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Monday, July 06, 2015

My Mad Fat Diary

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.
my mad fat diary dvds & books rae earl sharon rooney nico mirallegro finn nelson

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

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8 comments:

  1. Erin, I don't think you could have said it any better. I personally love the show as well - it's one of my favourites - and the fact that it has been so relatable to you is amazing. I'm glad you decided to take a step and combat the grief you'd dealt with for so long. I can wholly understand the difficulty of moving on, as often I feel like I'm always behind. They say change can be for the better, and I have to agree with that.
    I think the one thing a lot of people do, including myself, is beat themselves up about things they can't control. This show is so evaluative of that. I never quite thought about the show in that much depth until you'd pointed it out here. Thank you for doing so, it's certainly had me watching it with undermined appreciation.
    Moving on doesn't necessarily mean you're detached. It just means you're free from whatever was holding you back. :)

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment Rachel. ♥

      I honestly think no matter who or what you are that you can relate to the show because like you said, we all beat ourselves up when it's really unnecessary and unhealthy. It's obviously good to have awareness of yourself and be responsible for your actions, but we all worry so much and criticise things about ourselves that we shouldn't.

      Moving on doesn't necessarily mean you're detached. It just means you're free from whatever was holding you back. :)
      I really like that way of looking at it. I'm constantly evaluating my feelings and sometimes it seems like I am detached now that I don't feel as much as I used to, but this is a much better way of looking at it.

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  2. This show sounds truly amazing with so much to learn from it. I love the things in life like that with depth and meaning. I'm so glad it has helped you so much in such a positive way <3

    http://rainbow-roseblossom.blogspot.co.nz/

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    1. It really is an incredible show! Thanks for commenting :)

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  3. I've never seen the show although I have seen some adverts for it, but I honestly didn't have much of a clue what it was about! I think it's great that it's helped you so much though, I have certain shows/books that I always look to for comfort and I know that whenever I feel worried or stressed I can watch/read and they'll help me feel a little better :) xxx

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    1. Honestly the advertisements for MMFD didn't do the show justice at all! It's definitely one that has so much more depth than can be portrayed in a 30 second ad. Hope you check it out x

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  4. I'm so glad that the show impacted you in such a great way ( I say that like I was involved in it haha), I personally didn't enjoy it but then I didn't really give it a fair chance (I'd watch parts of an episode at work and a bit on my night off etc.). Totally personal but I lost my dad at a young age too, it really sucks huh?


    we are dannah | australian lifestyle blog

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    1. You really can't watch just bits and pieces of My Mad Fat Diary - you need to watch the whole thing from the beginning to really grasp it. However, I would only recommend watching the first series because it ends on such a high.

      I'm sorry to hear that, Hannah. ♥ It really is awful. I've noticed that when young girls lose their fathers it impacts them in such a monumental way, differently than any other type of loss.

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I appreciate every single comment and do my best to respond to every one. If you would like to connect further you can find me on twitter at @BeingErinBlog.