If we’re being honest, the title of this post should probably be “My Love Letter to The 100”, because that was its original intent. But then Jason View Spoiler »killed Bellamy, for no reason and without logic, « Hide Spoiler and I was just too distraught to write it. Which is good! Because now I can write it here, and in a way that more thoroughly discusses fandom and mental health in general rather than just a personal post. It’ll be both, obviously, but I enjoy the idea of the two coexisting, especially for the purposes of #ShatteringStigmas.
Over the years, I’d often hear people say that a certain book or movie or show saved their life. And it seemed, in a way, silly. Or at least exaggerated. But then a show saved mine, and I understood. And sure, for most of us it isn’t in a literal sense, but it’s no less important. And for some, it is in a literal way, and that is everything.
If you’re here reading this post, this event as a whole, you likely have some idea what it feels like to have no hope for your future. Or maybe you don’t know, and that’s why you’re here, to gain some understanding. I’ll do my best to explain. My kids were young at the time, one (Sam) and three (Lena), and it was overwhelming. When Sammy was born, he was rushed to a NICU a few hours away. He was there for a week, but the months afterwards where a trying time. Surgeries, many doctor visits. And I felt completely alone. The thing is, once those long trips and terrifying moments were thankfully over, I was left with far more time to focus on my feelings. And most of them weren’t great. I was, of course, beyond grateful for my babies, but I think we can all agree that we can’t expect other people to fill the holes in ourselves. Not even adorable children.
I lived an hour away from my parents and extended family, and most of the friends I had lived quite far away. I stayed home with the kids during the day, and my marriage was already in collapse. Taking care of two kids around the clock is no joke, and exhaustion is real. I was, to put it bluntly, miserable. I cried every night after I got the kids to bed, just sobbed, often until I fell asleep. I wanted a way out, but could see none. As a stay at home mom with no income and no support to leave (my mom, who was my biggest support, thought I should stay “for the kids” which is a whole post for another time I figure), I felt utterly trapped. And quite frankly, angry at myself for not being brave enough to make a real change.
One night, as I was flipping through the channels, I saw an ad for a new show coming to The CW. It was compared to The Hunger Games, which, incidentally, was the last thing that had really brought me joy outside of my kids. (Actually- can we just agree for the sake of this post that I am always glad for them? Being unhappy or unfulfilled makes no one less of a parent, so let’s just set that aside now.) I’d heard about the book, post-apoc is my jam, so I tuned in. And yes, “Pilot” is cheesy, but I was still entertained. So I kept tuning in. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love.
Maybe that seems odd, it did to me when I first realized how enamored I was! But it brought me joy, total and pure joy, when nothing else seemed to. I began to write posts about every episode, sometimes with fellow fans, and then eventually alone. It took up so much time but I genuinely loved every minute of doing it. I learned new things along the way, too. I started to make my own GIFs, and I am even trying to get into video editing. I had the opportunity to attend a fan convention as press and be a part of a panel. It’s given me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams!
But that isn’t even how it saved my life. Not really, anyway. And it was a combination of things, to be sure. I had finally found a good therapist who supported me finding my courage. There were friends I made as a direct result of this show- many, in fact- who continue to be huge parts of my life to this day. They saved me, too, probably more than they’ll ever know.
It was seeing the characters risk everything to save themselves and their people. It was the cast and crew being genuine and caring and in support of mental health. It was the realization that if they deserved more, I too deserved more. So five seasons, four years, and several apocalypses later, I finally made the step to get out of a toxic environment.
If you follow along, you’ll know that it didn’t go the way I’d planned. I suppose that’s true of most things in life. But did The 100 and the great things it brought into my life help with that?
Because the crux of it is, fandom gives us so much. It gives us something to look forward to, to be invested in, to care about. It’s both an escape and a purpose, really. Because yes, it gives us an opportunity to get away from our troubles for 42 minutes, but it also gives us an opportunity to find our passions.
And yes, there can be downsides. I was inconsolable for days after Jason did that thing I referenced at the start. Even more so when it ended. But that too is part of life. Disappointments, and endings, and goodbyes. Regardless of the pain, I’d chose it again every time. Which is in effect what we should feel in our lives, right? Love that is worth the pain. And sometimes, until we can get to that feeling on our own, fandom can be a great stepping stone. I hope you can find one that gives you as much as The 100 has given to me. May we meet again.
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