For over two years I've been wanting to write about this show but there was one problem: how do you write about something that has impacted your life so greatly?Firstly, if you've never heard of the Channel 4 television series My Mad Fat Diary, based on the real life diaries of Rae Earl, here's a quick run-down.
Set in 1996 in Lincolnshire, the show tells the tragic and humorous story of a very troubled young girl Rae, who has just left a psychiatric hospital, where she has spent four months after attempting suicide. She begins to reconnect with her best friend Chloe and her group, who are unaware of Rae's mental health and body image problems, believing she was in France for the past four months.
The series finale of My Mad Fat Diary airs today (I watched the advanced premiere yesterday) and it conjured up many feelings and memories for me. The episode took me back to the first series when I was a lot like the protagonist, Rae. I have a lot in common with Rae: my father isn't in my life, I've struggled with mental health (although not the same illnesses as her), and I have been overweight the majority of my life. There was a lot I learned from watching her story unfold in that first series - I took the lessons she was learning and applied them in my own life.
I'm such a happy person now that it's hard to think back to when I watched the first series and related to her depression and mental health struggles. Watching Rae and Kester's (her therapist) sessions made me decide to see a psychologist myself. I hadn't seen once since I was about 9 years old and really struggling to cope with my dad's death. I remember going to see that lady and sitting in the corner and crying. I wouldn't talk, and I wouldn't draw anything like she was asking me to as I had no drawing talent. I just wasn't ready to open up and begin to heal at that time when the pain was so raw.
Around March 2013, one month after series one had aired, I decided to look up psychologists in my area so I could start my own healing process. I came across a picture of one close by that I could tell I would get along with. I continued to see her every couple of weeks for a year and a half. That's the best way to find a therapist or psychologist - look them up and trust your intuition. I could tell from the picture that she was a warm person who would listen to what I had to say, without being condescending. Everyone has different needs for a therapist; I didn't need one that would tell me all the things I was doing wrong, I just wanted someone to listen and ask me questions that would lead to self-growth and acceptance.
|My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary by Rae Earl|
In My Mad Fat Diary's series three finale, Rae has to deal with moving on - not only moving to a new city, but moving on from her therapy sessions that she has so heavily relied on for two years. My sessions ended last November, but for a few months before that I could tell that the sessions weren't worth going to anymore; I was better, and that was hard to accept. I was in denial and disbelief for a while because ever since my dad died over 15 years ago, I never thought I wouldn't be miserable and grieving. What do you do when you finally realise you're happy? That happiness isn't a fake emotion people put on for show? That you've healed yourself?
I've always found moving onto a new phase of life really difficult. Leaving high school in particular was really hard. Even though like most people I didn't love going to school or many of the people there, it was still hard to move on without having any direction. Fortunately for me, fate took over and all of a sudden I was 18 and studying at University. Watching Rae take control of her future in this final episode was inspiring and goes to show that no matter what your struggles are, you can do whatever you want and follow your dreams.
There's many lessons to take from this show, but the most important one is that you have got to love yourself, first and foremost. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, good and bad qualities, and we're all trying our best to grow and be good people. You've got to look at other people and see the beautiful things about them, but you've also got to look at yourself the same way. We're all our own biggest critics and we need to let a lot of that go and treat ourselves well.
If you're dealing with any of the issues that were brought up in the show, please seek help. You don't have to struggle alone and there are people that want to help you get better. I truly believe that just letting your thoughts be heard and getting that negative energy out of your body, is the most healing thing of all. You've survived 100% of your worst days so far and you're stronger and better for it. ♥
There was a lot more I wanted to say about the show but these people say it better than I do:
Really Funny - Rookie Magazine
In Praise of My Mad Fat Diary - Emzae Music
My Mad Fat Diary Has Gotten It Oh So Right! - Retro and Thrift
My Mad Fat Diary - interview with screenwriter Tom Bidwell - Nicola Doherty