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The Unexpected Mental Health Lesson I Got From 'Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness'

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Editor's Note

This mentions events in the movie “Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.” There will be spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)

Yesterday I went to see “Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.” I heard mixed reviews about it, and knew that it’d be dealing with grief, but I wasn’t expecting a specific mental health lesson that came through the movie that’s challenging me even as I type these words.

Spoilers lie ahead beyond this point, so proceed with caution!

A massive sub theme in the movie was the idea of how no one wanted to trust Doctor Strange because of what other versions of him did. In fact, some people in the movie wanted to kill him outright. There were people who didn’t trust him, wanted him dead, or who were quick to jump to the worst conclusion about him based off of what other universes’ version of him did. Professor Xavier, when questioned about why he was willing to trust him, said something that stuck with me. 

“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.”

In my opinion, the “messiest” time for someone who lives with a mood or health disorder is when they don’t know they have the disorder, or when they’re first starting to live with it. It’s that period of time where there’s no discernible reason for their actions other than that precise moment. There’s no safety rails or guards up to keep someone in place, or internal conversations to talk down disordered thoughts. It’s just you, your undiagnosed condition, and the world.

Then you get your diagnosis. Sometimes you get medicated, other times you just learn how to live with your condition. You may reach a point where you’re stable and better, but now you’re left with the damage and wreckage from before. I don’t know about you, but living with the actions I made because of my disordered thinking was hard at times. I found myself unforgivable for things I said or did. Even though I grew, I still had those ghosts haunting me reminding me of who I was at my worst.

Something I think we can all learn from this quote is that we are not our past mistakes, especially those of us who live with a mood or personality disorder. We aren’t unforgivable. We are still worthy (wrong MCU movie but y’know). Just because we did a “bad” thing then, doesn’t mean we are condemned to it. 

You aren’t lost forever. That moment is in the past. We can take it, learn from it, and grow. 

Toward the end of the movie, Doctor Strange does something similar to what other Stranges have done, but he makes a pivotal decision that separates him from the rest. On top of that, he made a conscious decision at the end of the adventure to move on from his past, and step into the future. If he can do that, then I wonder why can’t we?

Lead image by Marvel Entertainment’s YouTube channel

Originally published: May 19, 2022
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