5 Ways Doctor Who Help Me Fight Depression

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I’ve had depression for around five years and it was only in 2016 that I was diagnosed with bipolar II. I’ve received treatment ever since then and I’m currently in partial remission. I’m still trying to learn how to handle my thoughts but changing one’s view of the world is not something that can be done in a single night for people with mental illness–it is something you have to work at constantly and patiently for years. For me, being a medical student also adds to the problem.

The past year of medical school has been stressful for me.  I was ready to give up and fail the rotation. I felt empty and I didn’t know what to do. I had lost the idea of who I was, figuring that depression had bereaved me of it. So I revisited an old TV show I used to love when I was in high school, Doctor Who. I thought maybe it’ll help me remember who I am.

So What Exactly Is Doctor Who?

For those who aren’t familiar, Doctor Who is a British sci-fi TV show about a time-traveling alien (who looks like a white British male) called ‘The Doctor’ having adventures through time and space. He usually has a human companion since he’s the last of his species. The show’s been running since the ’60s and is quite iconic in UK.

It’s been years since I watched Doctor Who. I stopped after series 6 because I felt Steven Moffat (the new writer) had made the plot very convoluted. But I decided to give it a try with the newest series (8 and 9) since now it stars Peter Capaldi, a handsome and mature-looking actor I’d never seen before. I had a hunch that he’d make a great Doctor.

Now I can only say that I’m glad to be back inside the TARDIS. You know why?

1. I Go on Adventures

What’s the best way to forget about your problems than to run like hell to a world you’ve never seen before, finding mysteries that need to be solved and facing danger with your best friend? They can go to the future, where Earth has vanished and people are living in spaceships, or they can travel to 10th century and be captured by Vikings. The Doctor and Clara are addicted to adventures. And the thing about adventures is that… it reminds you of childhood. It takes away all “adult “considerations that make life difficult and reminds us of joy and thrill and friendship and love and… everything else that makes us human.

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Off to the next planet…

2. They Make Me Laugh and Smile

I have found humor to be the most pleasant coping mechanism. Laughing makes me forget my problems instantly, and the main source of my laughs in season 8-9 is the amusing relationship between the Doctor and his companion, Clara Oswald. Some would call  their chemistry similar to an old married couple, and I couldn’t agree more. Clara called him a “grey-haired stick insect” because Peter Capaldi is very thin and tall. The Doctor made comments about her height and funny nose. She loved hugging. He hated them, but tolerated some for her sake. He sometimes acted like a bloody idiot. She helped him corret his manners. It’s very sweet and endearing, really.

One of my favorite moments is when the Doctor pretended to be the new caretaker of Coal Hill Secondary School and failed miserably at his disguise as a normal caretaker.

3. They Teach Me Life Lessons

The story can be so fucking deep that you learn a thing or two from this alien, I swear. Doctor Who reminds me how to fight, showing me that in every difficult situation there is a solution, and that there will be people who can help you. In my case, it’s the show itself.

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“Run. Run like hell, because you always need to. Laugh at everything, because it’s always funny. Never be cruel and never be cowardly. And if you ever are, always make amends.”

4. They Make Me Feel Special

Doctor Who is not about adventures you simply watch and enjoy. The audience is somewhat involved in the problem-solving and emotional conflicts. I used to be a person with zero self-confidence because I can’t help thinking that my worth lies in the things I am able to do, and often times I find that I’m not good at anything! No excellent grades, no achievements, even my drawings are not as good as I wish them to be. But Doctor Who makes me forget about all that and actually think about what the hell is going on in the show. I don’t remember where I read this, but someone (Steven Moffat, I think) said that watching Doctor Who needs the participation of the audience to make it real. I can’t agree more.

“In all of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who isn’t important,” the Doctor once said. For someone who feels worthless and sees nothing in her future, this means a lot. He snatches you from the world and gives you a whole new purpose, a life that is much more exciting, and he makes you a hero.  

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5. They Help Me Find Myself

I didn’t remember when’s the last time I made a decent, finished drawing. I have been drawing since I was 5 but ever since medical school and depression, I had never been able to finish anything I started. I was horribly impatient and looking at the things I made frustrated me to no end. My friends at medical school weren’t into the things I like either, so I simply had no audience. I was not into any fandom because I had no time to watch shows/read stuff. Nothing motivated me to draw and for several years I made nothing more than doodles. I had thought I could no longer draw so I forgot about drawing entirely. I lost a huge part of my identity, my art.

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Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor

But then I was so inspired by the Twelfth Doctor portrayed by Peter Capaldi, and I couldn’t help but draw him. I uploaded my drawing on Tumblr and DeviantArt. Some people find it good. That’s when I remembered that before I had depression, I used to do this: uploading my drawings, get responses from people online, make more drawings… it was my life, it was how I spend my time!

I also met new friends who also love Doctor Who. It’s been a long while since I met people with similar interests so it makes me very happy. Seriously. To finally have people who can listen to your opinions is a huge relief.


So, that’s that. I’m just glad I tried watching this absurd show about an alien in a blue phone box. It’s really more amazing than what it looks like. It’s definitely bigger on the inside.

Thank you Doctor. Thank you Peter Capaldi. Thank you Jenna Coleman. Thank you Steven Moffat (even though your treatment towards Clara piss me off these days). For making this story happen and sharing it to the world.

Doctor Who is one of the best stories I’ve ever experienced and I will eagerly wait for the Doctor’s next adventures, which will begin on April 15th.

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