Remember the time....

SkyArts have been airing series one of the US telly show 'In Treatment' over here, which is surprising in that we don't often get these sorts of dramas in the UK. Will and I've been making our way through the show one episode at a time, which is a bit slow-going because not only is the subject-matter sometimes really disturbing for us but also because there are so many damn episodes - like 45 in the first season alone!

Quick side note - please don't shoot me for switching between 'series' and 'season' accidentally. I'm becoming so anglicised with my word selection that I'm not even aware of when I switch between the two vernaculars most often.

Anyway, back to 'In Treatment'... The show has some really amazing acting in it, and is also quite cleverly directed in my opinion. The actor who stands out the most to me in the first season is Mia Wasikowska, who is about to hit worldwide stardom as Tim Burton's Alice this year. Her performances opposite Gabriel Byrne on the show are both delightful and gut-wrenching simultaneously. I identify with her character Sophie more than any of the other 'patients' on Paul's therapy couch, which is odd considering my life probably has just as many parallels with the Laura character (self-hating overly sexualised woman with major 'mommy and daddy issues' who is attracted to older, unavailable men). But no, it's Sophie that tugs at my heart and brings on the flood of nearly forgotten memories.

Some reasons that I identify with Sophie are her precocious nature despite being so young, and because she's been forced to grow up too quickly and blames herself for her parents' problems. But the biggest reason I identify with her is that she is pragmatic and mature on the outside whilst suffering from paralysing depression and anxiety just underneath the surface of the nearly-perfect mask she wears to make it through the day. When Sophie describes her fascination with death, her confused loyalties to the adults around her, the pain she feels she's caused to everyone she's loved...well...I just fall to pieces. Things I haven't thought about in years come back to me and it knocks me for a loop, sometimes for a few days. Sophie's character feels like an exaggerated made-for-telly version of the more real self that I was when I was younger. It's painful to watch, yet I keep going back.

Now let's be real here...no, I never threw myself in front of a car to attempt suicide. And no, I wasn't an Olympic hopeful in gymnastics. Nor did I have upper middle class parents who could buy me anything I wanted including a $300/hour therapist. And honestly, I'm pretty sure it's far too easy to assume the root of all of Sophie's problems lie with her father's deceit and her mother's reclusive depression. Life just isn't that clean-cut and in reality, chemical imbalances play just as much of a part in depression as stupid parents or poor life choices. It's not any of those things about Sophie that remind me of my past: it's the way her character speaks about the confusion of being thrust into adulthood too early, and the rawness in which she exists just under the veneer she tries in vain to show the world. And the desperate wish for it all to stop.

I spent years, decades even, feeling the same way. Therapy, age, maturity and hindsight have all helped me to realise my parents aren't completely to blame for the pain I felt as a child, and neither am I. I also know that I don't have to feel that way anymore, that it's within my control to stop from hating myself or becoming a martyr. I am so SO glad of the stability and contentment that I've found over the past few years, and of the support I receive from my husband, my family and my friends. Sometimes it is easy to forget that I used to be a 9 year old who would almost daily write in her diary about wanting to die after being insanely bullied at school and completely depended upon (or conversely ignored) by adults at home. But I WAS that little girl - that was me, that's how I felt and what I wrote. I never want to forget that scared little girl, but I also never want her fears to rule my life again. Watching Sophie's sessions on 'In Treatment' make me realise that it would be a HUGE mistake to forget who I was and to not acknowledge who I've become.

Thank you Sophie.

1 comment:

  1. funny how powerful certain things can be. but now i have to check out the show!