Home Op-ed Films and TV: Essentials of My Mental Wellness

Films and TV: Essentials of My Mental Wellness

by Courtney Le

Each time my finger hovers over the play button on the remote or my phone screen, I get an inexplicable rush—the play button is a sign that it’s time to escape reality. Even if it’s just for an hour or two, it’s enough time for me to recuperate and gather myself. (Unless I’m watching a tear-jerker like Billy Elliot (2000), then there’s no hope for me that day.)

When my friends and family couldn’t be there for me, a good episode or movie was always there and had my back. Truth be told, they still are there for me now. Whenever I’m feeling down, I just push play, sit back, and relax.

Films and television help upkeep my mental wellness. Without them, I would be lost—and for a while, I was. As a child, I didn’t cope in the same way as my friends. I often bottled up my emotions until I would throw a temper tantrum because of the pent up frustration. I had no form of releasing my emotions, and it resulted in fits and frequent breakdowns at home.

Later, the anger manifested itself into a mix of nervousness and random bouts of sadness. I wasn’t able to channel my emotions properly, and I constantly felt out of touch with reality. I couldn’t process what I was feeling. I’d feel emotions too intensely, and they were mostly negative. I didn’t enjoy life the way I knew I was supposed to.

I found an anime called Ouran High School Host Club. I became so obsessed with it that I made a now-defunct Tumblr blog dedicated to it. The girls in that fandom introduced me to American TV shows like The Office. I consumed them passionately. 

Strangely enough, after finding TV, I found that my emotions were changing—and for the better. After a good cry session when Pam and Jim finally got married, I felt like maybe it wasn’t all grey in the world. I felt relief—the weight that was on my chest was lifted. I could open the windows and take in a fresh breath of air. That was a strange feeling to experience, after years and years of letting anger, timidness, and melancholy envelope me. 

Connecting the dots, I realized that television made me feel better. It became my way of releasing emotions. I channeled feelings into a show and got a sense of satisfaction each and every time the credits rolled. Luckily, these emotions spilled out into the real world. I felt relaxed. If I ever felt upset, I resolved it by putting on another episode or turning on the TV. 

Shows like Suits and White Collar provided me comfort through hard times, and I still revisit them when I need a little pick-me-up. I feel warm and fuzzy inside—like I’m home. I get an indescribable comfort; it’s almost as if I’m being wrapped up in the show’s arms. Even if it’s just for a moment, I’m transported into a different world.

After years of binge-watching—thankfully it’s now “quirky” and socially acceptable to do so—I moved on to films and applied the same coping methods. Movies are a different experience; they’re one and done. However, it doesn’t change the impact they have on me. The content which sets in after finishing a good movie is a feeling I’d like to have every time I finish watching a film.

Although TV and film aren’t the solutions to my mental health problems—they’re just stress relievers—they keep me afloat. Being able to step into the shoes of Mike Ross (Suits) or watch as Harper sasses Charlie (Set It Up) gets me through the day. Watching a movie or episode is my mental wellness technique; even if others say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it’s films and television that keep me sane.

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