Here Comes A Thought: "Steven Universe" And Mental Health
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Health and Wellness

Here Comes A Thought: "Steven Universe" And Mental Health

Why is it that a kids cartoon has managed to teach me more about myself than anything else?

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Here Comes A Thought: "Steven Universe" And Mental Health
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I know it sounds crazy, that a kids cartoon that isn't obviously educational could teach a person so much about accepting themselves. But honestly, after the feelings shows like Adventure Time dumped on us, can you really be surprised? As a student, as a human being, I have always struggled with the possibility that who I am is not who I am meant to be. That maybe I'm doing it all wrong, maybe I'm not supposed to feel the way I feel. Am I really who I think I am or is my personality just a projection of what others think I should be?

Growing up, my parents never really focused on emotion. Don't get me wrong, my parents were amazing, they still are, and they have done everything that they can to make sure that I live a good life. They've taught me to be strong, focused, intelligent, and determined to succeed. The thing is, I was never taught how to fail. Up until college, I had excelled in almost everything I put my mind to, and my parents stood behind me every step of the way. I didn't really think about myself really, I only thought in terms of how what I was doing would help me succeed in the long run. I suppressed any emotions that would possibly get in my way.

I was never really a people person. Sure, I had a lot of friends, and my social life was fine, but I had to physically force myself into the kinds of situations that would allow me to make new friends. Up until this last year, I had to prepare myself mentally for hours just to make a phone call. I couldn't go anywhere by myself, I still feel uncomfortable doing so. Yes, my parents taught me to be independent, but they never taught me how to do so in a way that was healthy. I don't blame them for that of course, how could they have known?

Knowing what I know now, I know that those "attacks" I used to have every night before bed were panic attacks. My overall lack of interest in most things was not an aspect of my personality. My tendency to shake and freak out over small things was not what most people consider "normal". I understand that now.

Recently I have come to terms with the fact that I have severe anxiety and depression. It's amazing how some aspects of myself I assumed were just a part of who I am turned out to be the exact opposite. And interestingly enough, one of the things that helped me come to terms with that is Steven Universe. Which is weird, I know, I mean how could a kids cartoon possibly help me come to terms with the fact that who I thought I was is not actually who I am? How is a cartoon supposed to help me be comfortable with who I am.

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There are quite a few episodes that struck a chord in me, one of which is an episode called "Sworn to the Sword."

What really got me in this episode was a song called "Do It For Her." Since I was in middle school, I have consciously tried to be as unselfish as possible.I will do anything I can to help those who need it with no thoughts about my own well being. If I catch myself steering the conversation towards myself, I will often change the subject. I only talk about things that I've done that I know I should be proud of.

I love this song because I can relate to both Connie and Pearl. But, throughout this episode, viewers realize that sometimes you have to let others help you. Sometimes it's okay to do things for yourself, and there is always going to be someone who is willing to help you. Going out of your way constantly to be as unselfish as possible is not healthy. It's taken me a while to realize that. I've donated so much of my time, my energy, my life, to the point where I haven't stopped to think about the toll that all of this work is taking on my body. I've realized that despite my incessant need to be helpful, to help others, sometimes it's important to help myself first.

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Another episode that made me think, is my absolute favorite episode, called "The Answer."

"The Answer" was an episode about accepting who you are, and who you love. And realizing that the answer that you are searching for may be one that you already know. Granted this episode is mainly about two characters accepting their feelings for each other, which they do through song, but they had to accept themselves first.

Not only does this episode make me extremely happy because of how cute it is, but it also makes me...more accepting of myself. I've never really been uncomfortable about being gay, but I have always wondered if it's just another lie that I've told myself. There's always this nagging feeling in the back of my head that says "what if I'm faking it..if I force myself to try..." Those thoughts really should have rang some type of alarm within my brain. But they didn't. Because as a person I am always second-guessing myself. My sexuality is yet another thing that I question. But after watching this episode, I sat down and asked myself, "why do I think like this?" There's nothing wrong with being gay so why was I constantly trying to plant the seed in my brain that makes me wonder if I'm not? I realized after asking myself that question that I already knew the answer. It was my anxiety talking. It was that little voice in the back of my head that tells me all the ways my life could go wrong. Rose telling Garnet that she was the answer was what helped me come to terms with yet another part of who I am.

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The next episode that hit me hard was "Mr. Greg."

Specifically, a song called "It's Over Isn't It." This song is about getting over a lost love, and even though I have never been in a serious relationship, unfortunately, I have been in love. (It did not end well). I actually seriously relate to Pearl's jealousy and anger with the man who the woman she loved chose instead of her. By the time I heard this song, I had long since gotten over them. But, I admit that I still kind of hated the situation. "It's over isn't it, why can't I move on?"

Pearl showed maturity and understanding in a way that I had never thought of. She sings about closure, and how it's important to let yourself let people go. Or else you'll be miserable, holding onto the last piece of a relationship that has long since ended.

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Mindful Education was the most important one to me, it has such a beautiful and meaningful message.

Again, the show does a great job in getting its point across through song. "Here Comes A Thought" is probably the most heartbreaking song that I've heard so far on the show.

The song emphasizes on letting the past go and to not dwell on it. Don't let it manifest into something that stops you from living your life normally. "Take a moment, remind yourself, to take a moment and find yourself." It's important to understand that not every mistake is the end of the world and that there are always those around you that are willing to help you. Don't let it get to the point where you can't function anymore. Don't lose yourself in the panic and disappointment that comes from going over every mistake you have ever made. Sometimes the past is meant to stay in the past. And anyway, now that it's over, all that mistake is, is a thought.

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I promise that these four episodes were not the only ones that hit me hard, (admittedly, an episode once inadvertently caused the worst panic attack I have ever had) but these are the ones that made me look inside myself. It's important to realize that when you're living with a mental illness, no matter what that illness may be, sometimes the smallest things can lead to big revelations. Or moments of extreme emotion. Don't be afraid to feel, it's better to feel something than nothing at all. I know this from experience.

And while I will never be entirely free of my anxiety and depression, I have taken steps in order to live the life I want to live. I have worked to understand my emotions and to handle them in healthy ways. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am making progress. At this point in time, that's what matters to me the most.

Don't be afraid to experience what the world has to offer because you are unsure. While being unsure is natural, it is often the only thing holding you back.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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