Katniss Everdeen & PTSD

This article says it so well.

My undergrad mentor posts some pretty cool things on his Facebook, and I’ve always known he liked The Hunger Games trilogy, but he’s right, this article really nails down why they’re such amazing books.

I thought there was a trend, or something, with Mockingjay and then Iron Man 3. It seemed like PTSD was finally getting good representation in mainstream stories. I won’t say that I noticed any kind of trickle-down effect. We got just as many callers at the Suicide Prevention Center talking about how people don’t understand mental illness, how it’s stigmatized, how no one knows how to deal with it. But it was refreshing to see our “heroes” have realistic emotional turmoil. I’ve said it a million times (to the point where I’m sure those close to me are sick of hearing it), but Superman just can’t reach the all-time low that we need to see our characters reach (no, not even with Kryptonite). If you never fear for their lives or sanity or wellbeing, how can you really feel their triumph?

And that’s the thing–it isn’t just good character building that drives us to write those lows into our stories. Because everyone struggles, life can be a more or less constant struggle, and to gloss over that is to deprive readers/audiences of truth. Most of the time you aren’t getting the full story if you aren’t told about the lows. I wouldn’t be so proud of myself for having a brand new job and surviving another move if it weren’t for the horrible summer I had, sunk in a pit of depression that seems to hit me every year at that time. Triumph in the face of adversity, and all that.

We need more heroes who have to climb their bloody way up from rock bottom. The bravest people I’ve ever encountered are the ones who live with suicidal thoughts, or depression, or manic episodes, or voices in their heads, all the time. And are still here. So that’s why I love Katniss, and why I love that they explored Iron Man’s PTSD. I wasn’t disappointed with the Hunger Games epilogue the way so many people seem to be. When you’ve experienced the things Katniss has, would you ever expect to be able to sleep without one eye open? I know that, having fallen prey to the depression fog at various times in my life, I won’t ever forget what it feels like. And I won’t ever stop fearing that it might come back. Sure, I don’t let it rule my life, but that takes a lot of building up, to get to that point. And it isn’t at all a permanent thing.


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