Mentally Ill, Not a Manic Pixie

Mentally Ill, Not a Manic Pixie

How the manic pixie dream girl trope romanticizes mental illness
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The phrase “manic pixie dream girl” came to be in Nathan Rabin’s review for Elizabethtown. He was describing the female lead Claire, played by Kirsten Dunst. He coined the term to define female characters that “exist solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Since then, all of those writers have given birth to an army of dream girls: Sam from Garden State, Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and most of Zooey Deschanel’s repertoire. We have watched them be their authentic selves and still be able not only to win the boy but save him from his depressing and humdrum life. That being said, if we actually take the time to look through the one-dimensional characters’ blue hair and vintage record collection, you can see the mental illnesses Hollywood has painted its romanticized veneer over.

All audiences have fallen in love with these dream girls. They are quirky, but not too quirky where they become unattractively awkward. Their fascination for making life matter and finding the beauty and excitement in every little thing drags our dreary male protagonist into the light. They teach the young man to live again though petty crime like shoplifting in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or underage smoking and drinking in Looking for Alaska. With quotes about belonging to nobody and feeling unique in the world, how can anyone not fall in love with these girls and even see a bit of ourselves in them?

What usually goes unnoticed, however, is the mental illness seeded within. Their title includes the word manic, a major symptom of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. The term’s creator even uses “psychotically chipper waitress in the sky”. Upon further investigation into manic pixie dream girls, all of their quirks and habits morph into symptoms of a mental illness. The petty theft at the corner store becomes impulsive tendencies, and their ukuleles and knitting reveal themselves as self-care methods. Then when the boy begins to learn his dream might have a few cracks in it, and those flights of fancy that took you both on spontaneous outings turn out to be a relationship-sparked spin into a manic episode. However, still entranced by her symptoms, he believes his life is for the better with her in it.

As someone with bipolar disorder, I find myself with similar qualities as the MPDG with the odd hobbies and frantic impulses I can’t control, and I usually do find myself falling into relationships with men who are depressed and stuck in some sort of rut. Up until recently, I unknowingly have guided six boys out of whatever phase they were in and became their muse. To follow the trope’s storyline, at the first sign of trouble on my end, and my façade broke right before their eyes. They went running for the hills. I am not some manic pixie dream girl trope and neither are anyone else’s girlfriends for that matter. Take a note from Clementine in Eternal Sunshine. We’re just screwed up girls looking for our own peace of mind. Don't assign us yours.

Cover Image Credit: Full HD Pictures

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Smiling Is The Greatest Medicine

And it's free.

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Have you ever had a bad day where everything just seems like it's going wrong? Then one of your friends texts you a picture of a dog covered in spaghetti and even though you're on the bus, you smile and chuckle. That is the best feeling to get from another person. I love when someone does something or says something funny and it just makes you smile and realize that today really isn't that bad. If you smiled or laughed after reading "a dog covered in spaghetti," then I gave you a dose of the best medicine you can receive besides love, smiling and laughter.

I want you to think about today or yesterday or the past couple days, has anyone gone out of their way to make you laugh or smile? If they have, you should definitely keep them around, unless they were creepy then maybe don't keep them around. Have you ever just randomly smiled at someone and it made you feel better and knew it made them feel better? That's you sharing the wonderful thing called happiness. Happiness can be shared between anyone you know and anyone you meet.

Sharing a smile with someone can actually do more than you think. It can remind someone that they are important and needed. It can make someone who is having a terrible day realizes that it gets better. You might be helping more people than you know. Just by talking to someone can make someone smile because it makes them realize that they matter to you regardless you know them or not. You can make someone smile by telling a joke or a story or just waving hello to them.

I think that it can be difficult for us sometimes to share our emotions because we usually think that if we smile at someone that it means we like them. You are very capable of smiling at someone without having a crush on them. If you see someone you might know, you are allowed to smile at them without it being weird. If you were to smile at someone that you barely know, it is perfectly fine is they are holding the door for you or let you cross, but don't be weird. If you were to smile at someone and didn't know them and you didn't have a reason to, that might be kind of creepy.

I think that smiling is the best thing you can do for someone because it can mean so much even though it's so small. It can change a life and save a life. It can make someone feel like they are important and needed in this world. Smiling is one of the greatest things you can do for a person and it is also one of the easiest thing you can do. By smiling, you can make yourself feel better and others feel better too. Smile is wonderful and you should try and smile every day.

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