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What 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Taught Me About My Mental Health

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I learn a lot about myself and my mental health from watching television and movies. If it wasn’t for Claire Danes’ character on “Homeland,” I may never have gone to see my doctor about my mood swings. Now that I have a few diagnosed mental illnesses, I like to see myself in fictional characters, especially superheroes.

When I went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” I was surprised that the film reminded me of a few things I believe to be true about my mental health.

1. “Only we can remake the universe.” One celestial being is not enough. We were put on Earth to live in connection with others, supervillains or otherwise. We need each other to share in our joys and in our sorrows. I need the help of my husband to know when I’m starting a depression relapse because I rarely catch it myself before it takes over completely. It’s up to me to communicate how I’m feeling because unlike Mantis, he can’t feel what’s in my brain. I like to think this sharing further strengthens our bond.

2. Music and beautiful things help my mood. Music, dancing, exercise, gardening and good food don’t cure my depression, but they bring me joy if I allow myself to let go. Seeing Baby Groot dance without a care in the world reminded me that it’s OK to let go and be joyful. We can find joy even in the midst of sorrow or a crisis.

3. Never judge someone else’s story by their appearance. Baby Groot gets bullied in the movie, but at the end, he’s just as cute and happy as ever. I can never tell by looking at someone what they might be facing and I lose connection with them when I make assumptions.

4. Possessions and skills, even superpowers, don’t give meaning to our lives. No matter how much I have had in my life, when I feel worthless it is all meaningless. I constantly feel the need to prove my worth by accomplishing my goals, but as soon as I check something off of my to-do list I add two more things. I want to remember that a lifetime spent chasing tasks is no life at all.

5. Empathy brings us together. I don’t have to be an empath like Mantis to practice empathy with everyone I meet. When Drax said, “You don’t have to believe in yourself because I believe in you,” I realized my husband does that for me all the time just by being present.

I want to learn to treat myself the way the Guardians treat Baby Groot — with compassion, kindness and patience. After Groot is bullied, the Guardians ask for his help rather than smothering him with sympathy. And they do it with patience, asking him only for what he is capable of doing. It’s up to me to remember the Baby Groot inside of me that wants to learn and grow and help others, and sometimes do a little dance.

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Image via Guardians of the Galaxy social media.

Originally published: May 13, 2017
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