The "Stranger Things" About Mental Illness.

  1. To those who know me, it's no secret that I have battled with anxiety and depression since I was a child. For the warriors who live with mental illness, it's an ongoing fight between what you know, rationally, and what you feel.
  2. I have often sought comfort in fictional characters, and their stories, as a way to cope. Sometimes that escape can help me to understand and "normalise" my own story. Sometimes it is simply that, an escape. It's terrifying to be trapped and tortured by your own mind, be silently consumed by a monster inside, to feel as though you ARE the monster.
  3. A short while ago I escaped to the small town of Hawkins, and immersed myself in the 80s' perfection of 'Stranger Things'.
    There are many fan theories out there, but for me, this is more of an awareness of my own experience. Very recently my life has been flipped upside down again and it occurred to me that 'Stranger Things' is a metaphor for depression. At first you may think that I'm insane, and of course you'd be right, but hear me out. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
  4. The Upside Down and the Demogorgon represent depression.
    Everything, as you know it, feels out of reach, lost. You're alone, cold, trapped in the darkness, unable to eat or sleep, warring with a terrifying, often invisible monster. Every molecule of your strength is exhausted hiding from, or fighting the Demogorgon. You're screaming for help, but nobody hears it. There are those, like Barb, who are lost forever to the Upside Down. The lucky ones, like Will, find their way home.
  5. Joyce.
    Your mother tries desperately to communicate with and protect you. She drives herself insane trying to find a way to help you, to bring you back. She clings to the slightest chance that you're still there, and never loses hope that she can save you.
  6. Mike, Lucas, and Dustin.
    There are those special friends who never give up on you. No matter what. They help fight to keep your anxiety and the voices in your head (The Hawkins Lab bad guys) from destroying your way home.
  7. Serotonin and the chemical imbalance in your brain, are played to perfection by Eleven.
    She can be calm, rational, and even happy. But in an instant, Eleven can lose control, becoming explosive and unpredictable. Scared of others and herself, she feels guilt, confusion, pain, and great sadness, all while having a profound awareness that SHE is the danger that threatens the stability around her. She is her own worst enemy, but only she can save herself. Eleven is the villain and the heroine, rolled into one.
  8. Now, as I mentioned before, I sound insane, but I'm ok with that. This is my experience, the comfort I have found in the storytelling. But that's the whole point of a narrative, isn't it? And when it comes to storytelling, 'Stranger Things' is a masterpiece!