Jessica Jones: an inspirational character

TW: sexual abuse, PTSD

Also, SPOILERS!

When I heard that Marvel was coming out with a new series on Netflix and that David Tennant would be in it, I was elated. Not only do I love Marvel, but I am also a huge David Tennant fangirl. I really liked Daredevil, so I had high hopes that Netflix would do a good job with this new series. I’m still a bit of a comic noob, so I wasn’t familiar with the storyline behind Jessica Jones.

When the time came for this new series to be released on Netflix, I was a bit busy and didn’t get to it in the first few days. Then I started seeing warnings on Twitter that, though good, this series could possibly be very triggering to anyone with a history of abuse/PTSD. This was during the time when I was having very serious issues with my own PTSD, although I hadn’t been diagnosed yet, so I decided it wasn’t wise for me to start the series, yet. Now that my new meds have taken effect and I am doing better than I was, I decided to try watching it and see if it was still too soon for me. My roommate and I watched it together, which helped.

To my surprise, instead of being triggered by this series, I was encouraged by it. Jessica faced some horrible, horrible things at the hands of Kilgrave, and her suffering often resonated with me. The long term effects of it were very obvious, and her PTSD symptoms were almost palpable to me, at times. Yet, through it all, Jessica showed incredible resilience and strength of mind and will. Yes, she obviously has some issues, which include her drinking habit, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She continues to live her life as best she can and she reaches out to others like Hope and Malcolm when they are affected by Kilgrave, as well. She goes so far above and beyond to try and help Hope. Are her ways of trying to help her always the best? No. But she does the best that she can.

Seeing how Kilgrave acted towards Jessica and others was also very illuminating, to me. His manipulation often gave me the chills. The way that he was so convinced that there was nothing wrong with what he had done and clearly believed his own justification was eerily familiar to me. The way that Jessica stood up to him and refused to let him gaslight her into thinking that his version of reality was the accurate one was amazing. It takes a lot of strength to stand up to someone like that and to refuse to allow them to change your perception. Not only did she refuse to allow him to change her perception, she also told him point blank that he raped her and refused to budge when he tried to convince her otherwise. She recognized how abusive and manipulative he was being when she stayed with him in her childhood home and she still set some boundaries with him and insisted that he honor them (not touching her, for example).

To me, Jessica developing a resistance to Kilgrave’s powers was symbolic of learning not to let the person/event that caused your trauma continue to control your life. She defied him openly on multiple occasions and refused to allow him to resume control over her, regardless of how much he got under her skin. I know it probably wasn’t meant to be symbolic by the writers, but to me, Jessica Jones will be a reminder of the fact that I can learn to live without letting my PTSD control my life.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Jessica grows in the next season, now that Kilgrave is gone. I’m looking forward to seeing her work to help others, and hopefully start to heal from the pain and trauma that she went through.

While Jessica Jones is not a great role model, in terms of some bad decisions she makes in the course of the series, as well as her drinking habits, she’s still an inspiration to me and quite the bad ass, despite what she went through. I can’t wait to see the next season!

 

 

Advertisements

Welcome to Midnight 2016

One of the mental health support and awareness groups I follow is called To Write Love On Her Arms. Every year for New Year’s Eve, they do a thing called “Welcome to Midnight.” It’s about more than just your typical NYE resolutions. It focuses on truly believing that it is possible the change and turn your life around, and that those changes don’t happen in a moment.

I use Welcome to Midnight as a chance to reflect on the last year – how I have learned and grown and changed, and also how I struggled. I use it to decide what I want to work on and how I want to grow in the coming year. I’ve never publicly shared this before, but this year I decided to do it. I’m fairly late, this year, but better late than never.

Here is what I decided last year that I wanted to work on in 2015.

I want to learn that it’s okay to need help and how to trust enough to ask for that help, even when I am at my most broken. That I am worth the help of my friends. That I am worthy of love and that I deserve to see better days. That better days are coming.
 
I want to continue to grow in the area of living every moment and not just existing and dragging myself through life. I want to continue to grow in terms of not just refusing to let fear hold me back, but in living a life free of the fear and uncertainty I’ve allowed to hold me back for so long. I want to grow in my relationships – in truly knowing my trusted friends and letting them know me. Not just the pretty parts of me, the areas where I seem to have my life together, but the struggles, the pitfalls and the triumphs, as well.

I did so much in the last year, in terms of not letting fear hold me back. In February, I accepted a new job. Within days of accepting that new job, a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that she needed a new roommate. In a matter of days, I had signed on as her new roommate. I moved on February 28th, a mere ten days after I decided to move, and started my new job two days later. Taking that leap was a terrifying thing to do. I grew up in a home where it was expected that I would live at home until I got married. It’s implied in that teaching that women are somehow unable to live independently, without a man to watch over them and care for them. Despite the fact that I no longer hold to those beliefs, the insidious ideas that were planted by purity culture and my fundamentalist upbringing still linger in more ways than I would like.

Moving out went smoothly, and I will forever be grateful for my friends who helped me with moving my things. My new roommate, Maggie, and I got along from the beginning, and being out of my mother’s house meant that I no longer had to conceal the way that my beliefs had changed. As welcome as the change was, it was difficult to adjust to at first. I often found myself missing home, though I knew I didn’t miss how afraid I often felt, at my mother’s house. And it was hard to learn to relax and feel safe in my new home. I found myself feeling afraid that Maggie wouldn’t like having me as a roommate, or that I would be a nuisance to her. It was quite the opposite, though, and she told me not long after I moved in that I was the best roommate she’d had since her sister moved out.

Emelee and B both helped to ease the transition quite a bit. B supported me and comforted me from afar, while Emelee frequently came over after we got off work and kept me company. It took a few months, but I gradually grew accustomed to the apartment and and it began to feel safe and to feel like home. Maggie and I become better and better friends, and I began to trust her and feel comfortable in confiding my struggles in her, too. She’s been extremely supportive during the struggles I’ve been facing with my mental illnesses, even when it has had an impact on her. I’ve learned to trust both her and Emelee, and to reach out to them when I need help. Especially as the symptoms of my PTSD worsened and I was officially diagnosed with it, I’ve had a lot of new opportunities to share about my struggles as part of my ongoing commitment to raising awareness about mental illness by being open about my own struggles.

Once I had begun to settle in a bit more, I decided to do something that I had always been loathe to do – I joined OkCupid. While I lived at home, I was afraid that Mom would want to watch over my shoulder and pre-screen any matches, in keeping with the purity culture traditions I was raised with, but no longer believed. I’ve already chronicled my adventures on OkCupid in some of my earlier posts, but this really was a huge step towards my goal of not letting fear and uncertainty to hold me back. The relationship I developed with A gave me an opportunity to work on growing in my relationships. We’ve taken time in letting our relationship develop, but there is very little I wouldn’t share with him, at this point.

I think this year was definitely a huge success, in terms of what I set out to accomplish, last year. I accomplished my goals and did things that I never imagined would be possible, at this point in my life. I have lived so much and done so many things that I would have previously allowed fear to hold me back from. I’m very proud of myself, all that I have done, and how far I have come.

So, what do I want to work on, this year? How do I want to welcome midnight, this year?

This year, I want to learn that it’s okay to give myself a break and to accept the limitations that the PTSD places on what I can do, while also challenging and pushing those limits. I want to continue to build a better life for myself. There are many more better days ahead of me. I know this, now.

I want to continue to grow in my relationships and the openness that I have been learning. It is a truly wonderful thing to be open with someone and to know that they accept me for who I really am and not hide behind the mask I so often put up when I am in public. I want to continue to work on not letting fear and uncertainty hold me back. Both of these things are ongoing projects for me, and will likely be something I work on for several years.

 

 

 

 

 

An update

It has been some time since I posted on here. I appreciate all of the encouragement and support that I have received, since then.

The med change that I went through was not well handled by my doctor and I ended up having some very serious side effects. Thankfully, I have adjusted to my new medication quite well and it seems to be working very well. The nightmares have mostly abated and I’m sleeping, again. Amazingly enough, I have more energy than I have in months. I hadn’t realized just how long my depression had been creeping back in and stealing my energy. I can finally get out of bed again in the mornings without having to fight to get up. It’s no longer so hard to go out and run errands and get things done around the apartment.

I am still struggling with learning to cope with the random triggers, but I know that isn’t something I will be able to do overnight. I’m slowly building up a repertoire of grounding exercises and techniques to help myself with the anxiety. I’m still afraid of how hard it will be to overcome this and how long it will take me to work through this. I’m no longer so afraid of the process and the struggle, though. I know that I have friends who will stand by me and support me as I work through these issues. It’s not going to be a quick or easy road, but it is one that I know I will be able to conquer.

Now that I am a bit more stable, I am looking forward to posting here more frequently. I already have a post scheduled for tomorrow, and hopefully I will be able to write more again, soon.