Another outstanding series, My Mad Fat Diary has triumphed! Proceeding from the last series in 2013 Rae Earl, the protagonist in this inspiring story, starts her new life in college, which has caused her an array of problems. From pre-college nerves, to wanting to be accepted amongst new peers, bullying and to panic attacks this series has probably covered all of our worst nightmares whilst being in education, with perfect execution. The series ends with a massive explosion of facing her demons, from regrouping her amazing friends, standing up to the bully, re-establishing her relationship with her mother and meeting her baby sister.
My husband and I watched both series without fail, it became our Monday night ritual, and I called it my therapy. Why did I call it therapy? Because, despite being a creative writer, I struggle to find the words to describe how I am feeling. When anxiety takes hold or depression swarms in my mind is empty, with only fog and squiggles. What flooded my mind before self-harming was a catacomb of mess. But My Mad Fat Diary reached out to me in a deep way, more often in a painful way, and Rae would often describe those moments of fear, confusion, pain and abandonment with words that would often evade me, and those words described it perfectly to the letter. But not only did it help me find the words, it also made me realise that there are people out there who feel exactly as I do, and it’s OK to feel like that.
What was brought up that, which troubled me in respects to my illness, was the issue of how mental illness can consume our lives. We can become so absorbed in our own thoughts, feelings and pains that we forget that the world continues to rise and fall around us. Whilst we struggle with our battle we begin to forget that there are other battles to win, and they may not be our own. From Rae’s point of view she struggles with the impending college performance, still in pain from almost being raped, abandonment and having her home life fall apart that she becomes blind of what is happening to her best friend, Chloe, who is battling her demons of low self-esteem and self worth by involving herself with men who take advantage of her. In the end they both feel abandoned, trying to win the almighty fight on their own when, in the end, their support for each other gives them the strength to concur all. It took Rae to deceive her best friend by reading her diary to truly understand that Chloe is in much pain as she is, and she needs her help.
After getting over a period of time of thinking ‘I’m so blooming selfish!’ I began to realise that sometimes I become so absorbed in me that sometimes friends and family need me to be strong for them. And Finn, the guardian angel and voice of reason, tells Rae that everybody has problems, everybody feels hurt, we just have to be strong. We must stand up, shoulders back, head high, and not see the world as a cruel place, feeling like we’re the unlucky ones, but to realise that we are all not alone. Problems happen, but getting through them can make us better people, more wise and able to face other problems in the future. What is stopping us, is us.
I am not saying that our problems are meaningless and petty, everybody’s problems are important to them. What we must remember is that whether we have anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or a personality disorder, it is not us. A diagnosis cannot and shall not be the foundation of who we are. To live life every day with a mental illness is a challenge in its own right, then to have life problems thrown into the mixture. If we can get through the day then we are strong! We are not the awful, ugly people that we paint ourselves to be everyday. We are strong, and we are beautiful.
To round this blog off I would like to give my massive congratulations to the whole team who made My Mad Fat Diary the amazing success that it is, everybody on and off stage. Sharon Rooney, who plays Rae Earl, played her part excellently (and what a pair of lungs she has!) and enabled us to connect to her character, to laugh with her, to cry with her, to feel her pain. I also want to give my up most respect to the Rae Earl. To beat mental illness stigma we must be upfront and honest about our illness, the struggles, the pains, the treatment, the lot. Her courage to share her story will inspire many people who battle mental illness everyday, to believe that we are strong, beautiful people. Thank you, Rae.