Journeyman's Row
         Discovering tomorrow's future starts by discussing yesterday & today.

Click here to edit subtitle

Blog

Motoko "Major" Kusanagi

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

For those of you who are faithfully following along with my blogging, I thank you because however silent you are still an inspiration for me. The reason for my silence is because of several reasons I will soon address, so don't worry. To pass the time, I have quite an interesting topic choice to share with all of you. I included this entry under the category, To Know Me Better, because I consider it central to my life, my creativity, and a reflection of who I am.


The single most fascinating and inspiring fictional female character I have ever come across in my life is not something I take lightly. So, this blog post will not be all that short. Motoko "Major" Kusanagi is the main character of Mamoru Oshii's anime film Ghost In The Shell, originally created as manga comics by Masamune Shirow. It just so happens that I finished watching the big screen production of it on DVD only a couple days ago. I told myself, despite needing to post updates, I have to write a blog about this character and share my admiration of her for others to read about. Allow me to take you back to when I first discovered the Major and why I feel such a connection to the way she has been portrayed.


The time was the 1990s. My first confirmed symptoms of depression had surfaced during the summer of 1994 just before I turned thirteen. Twelve years old. I didn't know it back then, but my interest in Japanese animation would expose me to some of the most powerful creative forces I have come to know. When I first saw the original anime movie I was quite taken with how Major was portrayed. In anime productions and the feature film since then, she has become almost an idol for me with her personality. But who is she and why do I seem so taken with her?


For those who don't know the character or the Ghost In The Shell series, I will attempt to do my best with a summary first. She is the first of her kind. The first human brain (referred to as a ghost) transplanted into a cybernetic body (referred to as a shell). Hence the title. The Major serves as the lead operative of the future Japan-based Public Security Section 9. Section 9 serves under the Ministry of Internal Affairs answering to the Prime Minister as an intelligence department. Think combining the CIA with the FBI. Most of Section 9's operatives, including the Major, are also partially or entirely cyberized with the exception of Togusa.


Due to her prior distinguished military service, Kusanagi earned the nickname Major because of her rank. However, she stands above the other characters because of her inherent human qualities which are often portrayed to surface over computerized behavior. In simple terms, the Major longs for more. To know more about her mysterious past, what makes her what she is, why does she exist, to question, explore, and discover herself beyond the cybernetic limitations of her enhanced artificial body. Her desires for self-awareness also include understanding the vast and infinite reaches of the net as well.


She's not just another cardboard cut-out fictional female character. Forget how endowed or fit she is portrayed. That is because her artificial body (shell) is designed for combat. In some cases, she is portrayed taking on a spider tank using her bare hands. As a female character, the Major is strong-willed, confident, feminine but not feminist, mysterious yet passionate, very loyal and independent, very keenly aware of herself and her surroundings through mindfulness traits. She could go toe to toe with a tank just as adeptly as a male counterpart. Yes, technically she is not a human female character because she is cybernetic. Personally, I don't see the need to differentiate between that.


My strong admiration for and inspiration of the Major is what I long to find in a soulmate someday. She is an equal. An equal but without the need to be above or beneath a man in order to be who she is. She's one of a kind. I know how odd it may seem to say this, but her counterpart in some of the productions known by the name Hideo Kuze is actually who I would consider myself. I long to find the kind of person that the Major has been portrayed in fiction just as much as Kuze is portrayed to be drawn to her so instinctively. Whether or not I find that kind of woman in this life is rather irrelevant, but my respect for the character known as Motoko "Major" Kusanagi will always be of the utmost and strong.


Thank you, Masamune Shirow and Mamoru Oshii, for creating portraying such a deeply inspiring character.

Beyond young Jim Kirk

Posted on November 27, 2016 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

At the very beginning of the most recent Star Trek film, Beyond, the character of Jim Kirk, played superbly by actor Christopher Pine, was depicted confronting the demons of his youth shown during the two prior films. Those parallel mental health issues included an identity crisis caused by the untimely death of his father, as well as having risked his life based on lacking self-confidence and having considerable anxiety from that identity crisis. It is how these issues are quietly brought to the forefront during the first seventeen minutes of this film that define young Jim Kirk himself, and are what makes him much more inspirational for me than I could have hoped to see on film.


Not everyone likes to celebrate their birthday, and both age as well as mental health can influence this. Personally, celebrating my birthday is my third least favorite day of the year for obvious reasons. A number of my mental health issues are very similar to what Jim Kirk is shown to feel in Star Trek Beyond. Near the beginning of the film Kirk, along with character Dr. Leonard McCoy played by actor Karl Urban, are privately celebrating Kirk's birthday. A somber celebration two days prior to his actual birth date because of the fact that Kirk's father had died on the same day. In order to illustrate the myriad of mental health issues being expressed in this birthday scene, I have broken it down to illustrate at least six individual issues that Kirk is actually dealing with. Notice how the stressors quickly pile up.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death, and is apprehensive to celebrate his own birthday from the discomfort and grief.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death, feels apprehensive to celebrate his birthday from the discomfort and grief, and feels anxiety because of his own age and getting a year older.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death, feels apprehensive to celebrate his birthday from the discomfort and grief, feels anxiety because of his own age and getting a year older, while he also feels depressed because of now being a year older than his father was before he died.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death, feels apprehensive to celebrate his birthday from the discomfort and grief, feels anxiety because of his own age and getting a year older, feels depressed because of now being a year older than his father was before he died, and he realizes he has an identity crisis that made him try to live up to his father while doubting his own self-worth.


Kirk is mourning his father's untimely death, feels apprehensive to celebrate his birthday from the discomfort and grief, feels anxiety because of his own age and getting a year older, feels depressed because of now being a year older than his father was before he died, has an identity crisis that made him doubt his self-worth, but also feels uncertainty now having to confront what it will mean to finally be himself after being lost for a number of years already.


Wow... Really speaks for itself, doesn't it? Grief, discomfort, anxiety, depression, insecurity, low self-worth/esteem, uncertainty. All of these simply from a scene that lasted only a few minutes. Just imagine what someone like myself would have to list for my mental illnesses stretching back to the mid-1990s. Such is why from my very first blog I emphasized peeling back the layers in order to share my experiences effectively. Before anyone dismisses the excessive negativity, allow me to offer a way to counter this emotion and create balance. The positive reinforcement for the private birthday scene, and brings Jim Kirk's mental health back into the positive zone, is shown at the end.


Once the villains had been vanquished in Star Trek Beyond, at the end of the film Jim Kirk is unknowingly led by McCoy to a much less private and more positively reinforcing birthday celebration. Vastly surrounded by his fellow crew mates, it was not that McCoy shouldn't have arranged the surprise party, but what happens is that Kirk experiences the emotional relief instead of being ushered into brooding silence. His crew mates didn't have to give an arm and a leg. Instead they did what they could and some were able to be there for him. And what a pleasure it was seeing actor Christopher Pine smiling ear to ear when the surprise was revealed. Imagine that on anyone's face who has endured mental illness. I could. :)


Charting a course away from Star Trek, for now, I want to return to a more personal view from the present and express my moral support before continuing on in this journey.

young Jim Kirk

Posted on November 26, 2016 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

With Star Trek Beyond being an inspiring film and part of a larger positive influence in my life, I had not always identified with the character of James T. Kirk. Don't get me wrong. There was no one I would have rather chosen to play the character back in the day than William Shatner. He embodied everything that has made the character what it is today. Though for me, back in the 1990s the age difference was greater than actor Christopher Pine's Kirk is to me now. In the Original Series films, we have been able to see what the character could have been like in his younger years. Again, score one for realistically flawed, yet empowering characterization.


Although Jim Kirk was portrayed losing his father in the 2009 Star Trek film, it was the problematic identity crisis which followed that struck a chord with me. A connection that few people or fictional characters had ever matched before. It was also depicted in the film that actor Bruce Greenwood's character, Christopher Pike, confronted Kirk about how his father saved more than eight hundred of his crew, including Jim and his mother, before he himself had perished. Pike dared him to do better. He challenged the aimless Jim Kirk into trying to better himself and to have courage. The character of Pike was one of many older, male role models that I have idolized and wished I'd had during my troubled youth. Kirk's identity crisis worsened during the next film, Into Darkness.


"I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I can do." Christopher Pine, as Jim Kirk, Star Trek Into Darkness, followed by Kirk sacrificing his life to save his crew.


When the trailer for this film stated those two sentences, I can't even begin to describe how stunned I felt. I can, on the other hand, describe how many times I replayed that part of the movie trailer on my media player to make sure it was actually real. To see if for the first time in my life that I found a common source of inspiration for my career anxiety. Career indecision which, of the two major sources of mental illness influencing my life, has affected me for longer than anything else has and has been the worst stressor. I'm talking hardcore since 1994 and 1995 while getting worse with each year. And now, I finally could relate to someone who was expressed feeling the same way. This was why being closer in age made the younger Kirk more identifiable, for me.


So, in these two Original Series films Jim Kirk is characterized as having difficulty finding his own identity, difficulty having full confidence with what he pursues as his career, and hadn't always made sound decisions in favor of flying by the seat of his pants. All of these factors culminated with pushing him close enough to the edge that, in the second film, he risked his life to save others. He may have been shown to do that anyway, but his anxieties played a major part in that edginess and it needs to be acknowledged. If you are beginning to see me talk about movies as if they were real events, don't be surprised. When you have watched as many and absorbed as deeply the movies that I have, they tend to be described as if they were real events.


What follows next are some thoughts I don't want anyone to feel alarmed about. During Into Darkness, Kirk is also portrayed sacrificing his life to save his crew, in part, because of feeling so lost in his life and choosing the righteous thing to do. Self-sacrifice. Sure, I get all of the happy people praising this noble behavior for what it is. I would too. But despite all of the positive encouragement I have said in the last thirteen years and from this blog, ever since 2003 I have been ready and willing to do the same as Kirk if the circumstances were to arise in my life. Yes, you read it right. Part of sharing my experiences with mental illness has to involve more honesty than some people might feel is appropriate, given the subject matter.


We are only human, after all the sooner you admit to yourself that you have no idea what you are doing the sooner you can begin finding your salvation. The sooner you just put on a happy face, because your critics believe you need to stop brooding and move on, then the sooner you could wind up down a path of denial or even ruin. There have been numerous times since my weak overdose attempt in 2003 when I have experienced suicidal tendencies.


The key difference, as I will explain later on, is that I have never acted on those tendencies since 2003. Right now, do I feel like giving up? Honestly, yes and there is much more to this than anyone realizes at the moment. Would I run into a burning building to save people? I sure would. Would I run into a burning building with the intention to die saving those lives? No. If it happened, so be it. As Christopher Pine's Kirk is quoted saying in Star Trek Beyond, "I'd rather die saving lives than live with ending them." Including my own, intentionally.


So to address the elephant in the room, am I lying when other times I have said that I will not give up? No. Part of what it is like to deal with having attempted suicide in the past, failed, and lived thereafter is to make sure that suicidal tendencies remain, at a distance, so it can be better controlled without sneaking up on you in a rush. As The Bible says, to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


Except that sometimes venting suicidal tendencies, in my experience as one reader herself knows, can be extremely tricky given how sensitive social media is to negativity these days. Also, while writing this blog post on the 20th and 21st, most of the day I had a bad flare up of restlessness and depression which had faint thoughts of mortality cross my mind. But I still maintained the balance and by the time I got to this point of the post, I felt better.


Despite my critics having strongly disagreed in the past, I have found it to be increasingly true and helpful to acknowledge and maintain an emotional balance with the mental illnesses I suffer from. And to keep at it without letting yourself slip too far away. The character of Jim Kirk is shown to do this quite well in the first two Original Series films. He keeps taking stabs at what he can do, trying to figure out his confidence, and resolve the identity crisis plaguing him. This conflict comes to its conclusion in the most recent film, Star Trek Beyond.

Beyond

Posted on November 25, 2016 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

It is very true that during my first bout of depression I was unable to find inspiration, though there still were in fact many sources of inspiration that I would later draw from and cherish evermore. Despite this dampening of influence, one of those sources has likely played a pivotal role with how I perceive life itself, as well as having been a major driving force for constant creativity in my life since early childhood.


Science fiction.


To fully explain its pull on me personally, and the countless outlets I have experienced it through, such would take days upon days to talk about in full. So, I thought I would do the honors by beginning with the longest lasting, most influential, and arguably the most inspiring journey I have ever experienced through science fiction. One that millions of people around the world know all too well from fifty years of boundless imagination and discovery of the unknown.


To boldly go where no one has gone before.


Since the early 1990s when I recall watching The Wrath of Khan on television, over and over and over again, Star Trek has played a massive role with how science fiction has inspired me and influenced my way of thinking. By bringing the possibility of science down to the personable level of human conflict, with an incredible number of gifted actors, absolutely mesmerizing musical scores, and stunning visual effects, all it takes is to close my eyes and hear the original film series theme to catapult me into the powerful world that has become Star Trek.


In fact, moments ago as I started to listen to the theme for Star Trek First Contact I actually began to cry just from the fond memories and gripping musical score alone. No joke. Totally out of the blue. To think that something like this can become such a force to be reckoned with is honestly amazing. But where should I even begin? Dear Lord, there are thousands of prospective topics I could choose from. So, I believe it will be simpler to begin with the most recent production of the Star Trek film franchise, and how I have come to identify with it just as strongly as its leading cast and crew.


Star Trek Beyond.


Released in theaters earlier this year, Star Trek Beyond follows the younger Original Series characters after they had endured their destinies being altered, sabotage by a Starfleet Admiral as well as near annihilation by a chilling nemesis. Normally I end up getting sucked right in to a Star Trek film and become engrossed with what plays out. With this thirteenth franchise film, though, I was immediately taken aback by what and how they depicted during the beginning of the film. They paid attention to the captain and the crew enduring prolonged isolation in ways that showed how easily certain mental health issues can arise, but might not be recognized. Here are two quotes to show how this anxiety was vocalized.


"As for me, things have started to feel a little episodic. The farther out we go the more I find myself wondering what it is we're trying to accomplish. If the universe is truly endless, then are we not striving for something forever out of reach?" Christopher Pine, as Jim Kirk.


"It isn't uncommon you know? ...to want to leave. There's no relative direction in the vastness of space. There's only yourself, your ship, your crew. It's easier than you think to get lost." Shohreh Aghdashloo, as Commodore Paris.


At the end of the previous film, it is shown that the crew has embarked on a five year mission into deep space which they are in the middle of when Star Trek Beyond begins its story. Not that I was expecting the characters to just be portrayed as cheerful people after three of five years under pressure, because that could easily have been done. Instead, what I really appreciated was both portraying what the characters felt and more importantly why they felt as they did. Psychology is given too little credit for being able to show what a person feels and why they likely do what they do. Understanding this is where many of the answers about mental health exist, and is one of the most important things I hope to encourage with anyone who reads my blog.


I do not consider myself obsessed when human misery and suffering are portrayed in popular culture. But through the best scripting, expressing how characters real or imagined end up facing their adversity is where the real worth is. Whether it is a major issue or a small and nagging sense of doubt. Showing an honest expression of the Star Trek Beyond crew's psychological nature really set the tone and really stuck with me through the rest of the film. As well as how one of the underlying themes was to show unity being a strength rather than a weakness.


Unlike my own experiences during my first bout of depression, when I was sorely unable to gather strength or inspiration from knowing that other people were going through what I had been. Even right now a neighbor's youngest son, whom is younger than me though, still lives at home with his parents and despite this daily reminder I still cannot find solace from the obviously shared circumstances. If he was the same age as me, the disconnect stubbornly wouldn't change then either. Which is why, at this point in my life, it is important for me to reassure others so that they can avoid the same pitfalls I have fallen into. So that more people do not wind up feeling shut out from potential sources of assistance that they need.


One person in particular, was the main reason why at this time I decided to begin explaining Star Trek's influence in my life as well as to continue revealing more about my experiences with mental health and illness. She has recently taken a growing interest in the Star Trek franchise, and so I felt compelled to show her just how much of an influence it has been for me over the years along with encouraging her to further explore Star Trek in general.


So, I would like to dedicate this post to Abby Bennett, the daughter of a former coworker and dear friend of mine Michele Bridges Bennett. I hope I have further opened the doors of possibility and imagination for you and that you continue to find inspiration from Star Trek as well as anything else. Live long and prosper, Abby. ;)


The human adventure is just beginning.


And it continues with Star Trek Beyond, to show just how much I have identified with the portrayal of young Jim Kirk in the previous three Original Series films.

Marvel-ous Heroism

Posted on November 10, 2016 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Once I blogged about the film Doctor Strange on Friday, it was only a matter time before my burgeoning passion broke free for modern superheroes. And to think before Tuesday the 8th I was riddled by anxiety from what to blog about because of the contentious presidential election day. Then I just worked my way through it. After four weeks I am still continuing this incredible journey with all of you.


Which is why I sincerely want to thank each and every one of you for choosing to join me so far on this path of discovery and enlightenment. One month ago when I turned thirty five, I was going nowhere in life. Now there has been a direction and a chance to explore the new hope. Let's see what this next month brings to mind and reveals.


"Now I'm free. There are no strings on me", James Spader, voice of Ultron, Avengers Age of Ultron.


For now, my voice, I have found.


Since my first bout of depression between 1994 and 2003 left me unable to feel inspiration, while the character of Bruce Wayne as Batman became a superhero I was fortunate to identify with, my inspirational superhero count has gone up dramatically in recent years. Together with a truly amazing selection of gifted acting talent, I now fill my former void not just with inspiration but also with these superheroes. Characters I once turned my nose up at for not being idols I could relate to has now changed solely because of one collective group.


Marvel Studios.


Let's consider that an average superhero portrayal ranks a five out of ten, though can still be inspiring. What specifically has made Marvel's modern superheroes different? More potent? Better? A twelve out of ten? The answer is with realism. Making otherwise complete strangers become more than just characters with gifted talents or endless wealth. Making them human. Transforming them, in this case, from paper copies to real world film icons.


Just as the visionary director Christopher Nolan made both Bruce Wayne and Batman household sources of inspiration with his Dark Knight trilogy, Marvel has achieved the same feat tenfold. Who I humbly believe these characters are, the actors that have been crucial to their success, and particularly how they have managed to defy realism despite being fictional, is what I feel makes them stand apart.


What you are about to read is regarding characters that are not real, yet have reached such a level of realism that they have become equally inspirational when compared to actual people. For that to happen on a scale big enough to achieve, in this example it takes a well planned and executed film. While there are dozens of satellite characters who have become extra heroic in Marvel's films, the list is filtered only to include the superheroes with their own film series. A few are not included as their feature films have not yet come out.


Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman, Iron Man played by Robert Downey Jr., Captain America played by Chris Evans, Thor played by Chris Hemsworth, and Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch. One of the major reasons why I limited the list to superheroes with their own film series is simply because of the exploration of each character's back story. This gives valuable opportunities for an audience to find themselves on common ground with each main character.


In Wolverine's two films, especially The Wolverine, we got to see the true kind of person that Logan is deep inside. The intense weight of essentially being immortal, as well as having been experimented on, but deep down being someone who tries to do the right things. You see his vulnerabilities, his emotional ties, not just weaknesses but how Logan turns some of them into strength. Hugh Jackman has brought an unprecedented level of humility and courage to this character that makes it very hard to imagine anyone else playing the part.


For myself, the character of Iron Man actually isn't as inspiring as the man behind the iron mask (no pun intended). To see Robert Downey Jr. take ownership of this character, one that first broke the mold of Marvel superheroes and began making them great again, is really what this character's most inspiring quality has become. To personally see my idol, Downey Jr., do so very well bringing his acting career to such great heights after his past with addiction, and bringing his one of a kind personality to Iron Man is what makes it all the more special to witness how this character unfolds. You just want to see Downey Jr. on screen doing what he does best.


Prior to the release of The First Avenger, I was never inspired by or interested in Captain America. On the other hand, I had seen Chris Evans' acting career develop into a promising start only for him to be given a subpar reputation and no defining lead roles. Few felt that Evans fit in, which is something I definitely can identify with. And he brings that to Captain America in a way that greatly enhances the character himself. It is indeed the perfect role for Evans because in real life he embodied the underdog. Working hard, doing his best, yet just not earning what he honestly deserved. As a result, I find a lot of pride and satisfaction watching how Captain America became the character he is now in Marvel films and being repeatedly tested to show how Rogers won't give up, neither will he betray his morality.


I was also never really impressed by Thor for having been given his powers through royalty of birth and magic. What changed that forever was his first film, and how for the first time I saw a side of the character I'd never even thought of. The entire film serves as a supreme example of a morality tale, with the character first being brash and arrogant only to be tested so strongly that Thor transforms into a wise and chivalrous person. Immaturity gave way to being much more like a gentleman and caring son to his parents, in much of the same way that I myself changed after my weak overdose attempt in the past. What Chris Hemsworth brings to this character is a one-of-a-kind image as well as superb acting performances that leave you wanting more.


The most recent addition to this list has been with actor Benedict Cumberbatch's inspiring and charming portrayal of Doctor Strange, whom I revealed on Friday was a character I had never been exposed to. Besides a top notch performance, with Cumberbatch's highly distinctive voice and look, what I also found interestingly identifiable was how Strange had his own morality tale just like Thor. Life dealt him a tragedy that pulled his personality down a peg to become humble, respectful, open minded, which availed all sorts of positive opportunities as well as standing up against evil. He displayed the courage to make that stand, put in the hard work to study for learning the mystic arts, and overcame the weakness of his damaged hands. Again, the underdog in a visually stunning performance.


I really look forward to seeing Black Panther and Captain Marvel come to the big screen for showcasing African Americans as well as women in similarly challenging superhero roles, and to see fans be inspired by them as a result. Again, while there are other characters I could name here, it was important to show how taking a character that isn't real, adding the right amount of realism with excellent acting talents, makes them immensely inspiring and a real joy to see progress. Realism is where the heart is.


Well, now with an entire month of honest blogging under my belt, I think it is time to highlight my latest public awareness event participation to commemorate this one month milestone.

Strange-r things have happened

Posted on November 4, 2016 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

To spruce emotions up, I wanted to continue sharing my love for movies and superhero characters by offering a special glimpse at a most unique opportunity. Ever since the summer of 1994, depression and anxiety disorders have dulled my willingness to go out in public but they haven't had full effect on my favorite pastime. Going to see movies while they are in theaters. As much as I am fond of movies though, I still haven't gone to see all of the ones I would want to. For the ones I outright do, nothing stands in my way. Nothing.


Particularly when expressing how anxious I felt about a week prior to today's release of Marvel's Doctor Strange, I simply acted like a six year old on Christmas morning. Or the cliché I often like to use of a kid at a candy store.


I can't wait. I can't wait. I can't wait. I can't wait!


Yes, I actually said that out loud.


Mmhmm. Just as I suspected Mr. Irion, said Dr. Strange. An acute case of frank immaturity. This case more than most for the superhero being portrayed, compared to other more recent Marvel and DC films. But why? Well, obviously Doctor Strange does not fall within the time period of my strongest bout of depression from 1994 to 2003, when I found it almost impossible to feel inspiration. It seems only from then did the character Bruce Wayne as Batman manage to reach me, until Star Wars' Anakin Skywalker did after that time.


What about other comic superheroes such as Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Black Widow, or Superman? Well, I'll put it like this. Superman was born with his powers, but I was not so gifted at birth than to have a bunch of ailments. Iron Man was highly intelligent and innovative, while I had below average intelligence. Thor was from another world, and I happen to be from Earth (contrary to some beliefs, Lol).


I wasn't born with mythical healing or imbued with adamantium, nor am I a woman. On the other hand, I have liked most adaptations of Wolverine and the modern Marvel film portrayal of Black Widow is great for showing feminine equality to men. I never really understood Captain America's power until his modern Marvel films. Even when I first saw Thor and Captain America films, I wasn't yet convinced just how inspiring they were until The Avengers came out. So what is left?


It turns out that Doctor Strange was so far off of my radar until now that I never really saw much of him from cartoons, any comics I came across, or elsewhere. I never had the exposure to consider him uninspiring from my past, and never looked up anything about him. Only until now when his official film is to be released, well after 2012 when modern Marvel films had since deeply inspired me. Essentially, this is a perfect opportunity.


This is the first time a Marvel-style film superhero, one that I never knew much about, is being portrayed on film after the roughest times of my past. What I consider a Marvel-style film superhero is a very relatable, identifiable character which had to work hard for their status as a hero and endured much hardship instead of simply just being or becoming the good guy.


What I have seen from Youtube so far is that it looks like Strange has to study rigorously to learn his abilities and is pitted as the underdog against a powerful villain. I had to study hard to earn my Bachelor's degree, not to mention how intensely I love the underdog story type. So this kind of an event, combined with stunning visuals from the movie trailers, makes the chance to experience Doctor Strange an amazing inspirational opportunity.


I just want to soak up each moment of this film to make sure I absorb every positive influence possible. Sounds a little extreme, and so it should. Inspiration is all around us, so why not take it all in whenever possible rather than spending more time feeling gloomy about life? Just a little jab at the critics who feel I am always negative. ;) I know where I will be at 4 o'clock today. Carmike Movie Theater. And I already anticipate the film being so good that I intend to go back at least a second time. Maybe even a third. I encourage anyone to join me.


Now, so thankfully, I can actually embrace a superhero as a regular person would.


Bring on the Strange!

All emotions considered

Posted on November 3, 2016 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

In summary, the character Professor Charles Xavier demonstrated how I help others because the need is there and because I can from my ability to handle the emotional pressure. While Bruce Wayne and his alter persona Batman showed how and explained why I have a complex reason of feeling responsible to help people. With my case, another important point of view to cover is the person with the mental health concerns and what they feel about it as well as the why.


However, anxiety caused me to take longer to focus writing here than I had anticipated. To be honest, part of me often deals with a duality of whether to say or do things and whether not to particularly for social purposes. Should I say this about myself on Facebook. Should I really admit that when someone asks me in person how I am doing. Sometimes this also seems like guilt when it comes to sharing topics about my mental health.


Fortunately, a very dear relative brought me more back down to Earth by reminding me what I should be focusing on in my life rather than letting myself be swooned by anxiety. She was so very right; further proof of needing to cherish the family you have for only having so many to begin with. At times like this it is healthy to take a step back and analyze the way you are reacting. Becoming more aware of your emotional tendencies can, in time and with effort, enable you to manage them better.


Originally, I felt like giving a rather irrational response to what I feel now after so many years. Then I realized I was also letting selfishness take advantage of me too, which usually isn't like me. It almost seemed like I wanted everyone's attention only to make some star-studded ultimatum because of my inner turmoil. By the time I reached this point in the blog post however, I looked inward yet again to judge my emotions and found more twists, as you can see.


What is actually happening at the moment are the symptoms of the pervasive and tricky social anxiety disorder. Which, among other mental health symptoms, are what I hoped to capture live to share with all of you and provide the utmost realistic details possible. Surprised? So was I, because I hadn't intended doing a piece yet on this particular anxiety. Primary source material at its finest. Makes for a longer blog post than usual, too.


Now that I managed to get that aside, time to get to the truth about how I feel now. After suffering the rigors of depression and anxiety for over half of my life, to be honest I have to admit feeling very tired. Worn out, exhausted mentally, like running on fumes but not to be confused with feeling ready to give up. More like running a massive world class marathon in my mind, making it past where I thought I could reach, but still having no clear sight of how far ahead the finish line actually is...


A particular Japanese animation character, Vampire Hunter D, is portrayed as a half-human half-vampire hybrid constantly at war with himself. His human side of wisdom and honor battling with his vampire side of bloodlust and superiority. When confronted about his reasons for fighting against the half related vampires, D is quoted stating "because I don't get to live a normal life" and continues hunting anyway.


As time has worn on for me, yes I do feel more like I too don't get to live a normal life. Besides normal being a stereotype, I have at one point or another been at the mercy of my turmoil for it not to have left any marks. The closer you get to a flame the more your skin will burn, but that doesn't mean you will perish or become a bad person. It just means you know what it feels like. The choice to do good is always, believe me always there to take.


Do I still believe my future can be saved from oblivion or have I given up emotionally? Frankly, I don't know and that is also clouded by my debilitating chronophobia. On the other hand, I have decided to embrace the hero complex of my "Batman" persona more than before in my life. I am not giving up on the things in life I desire or need most, such as the quintessential female companionship or a stable job. I still find some inexplicable way to hang and hold on. For the time being I am here, and not going to give up.


Consider my complex persona, the Guardian. Yes. I now have a name for it.  I am.


Especially not if I have a chance to inspire thousands of people with my ingenuity. The inspiration in store for you next happens to come from a rather unlikely source, for me.


Is the Doctor in, by chance?  ;)

Complex heroism

Posted on November 2, 2016 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Originally outlined by renowned psychologist Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, the fundamental definition of a hero complex essentially is a compulsion to help others above and beyond typical behavior or in combination with a desire to make the world right overall.


With the films Batman Forever and Batman Begins already demonstrating how the character Bruce Wayne and I shared experiencing a life-changing fear during childhood, internalizing the negative fallout to the fear's consequences, making decisions to act out violently and undergoing a formative transformation that lead to numerous years of soul searching, the final similarity is by far more positive.


The result of internalizing a traumatic experience, whether at a young or middle age, can often lead an individual to finally release those buried feelings of guilt and responsibility later in life. In the case of a hero complex, those people may then act out periodically or choose to pursue a pattern of selflessly positive behavior directly linked to their past experiences. While not typically considered a disorder, in recent years the symptoms have become more recognized and studied.


The character of Bruce Wayne demonstrates a hero complex by choosing to personify a heroic, but masked vigilante in a quest to help save other people from the fate of his parents as well as to inspire the same greater good in the general public. While I do not possess the wealth or influence Bruce had, by speaking out about myself with this blogging I have essentially donned my own cape and cowl to fight against what I suffered from and to help all of you.


I feel responsible for the peril of anyone who may become or are affected by mental illness, particularly suicide, depression, and anxiety, because of what I suffered through while growing up. In large part because of influence by the character Bruce Wayne and his persona of Batman, I have now come full circle by finding myself during the last six years of soul searching. I have now found my voice, and found a way to give of myself what I have learned and hopefully change lives for the better.


One last similarity to point out involves Bruce Wayne's indelible moral compass, which managed to remain unwavered despite all that he has been portrayed experiencing. Had this moral code been compromised in real life, the Batman persona we have come to know would have turned out to be much worse. In fact, my early overall exposure to the films of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and the cartoon Batman the Animated Series gave me a prominent and interesting example of doing good in the world.


Especially the cartoon series, because naturally versus a film it was aired more frequently affording ample opportunities to absorb it further. While the good that Batman has been portrayed engaging in was part of the influence for me, I have someone else entirely to thank for getting my morality straightened out when it mattered most. My parents, particularly my Dad.


Both of my parents were law abiding and morally sound influences as they raised me, a comparison which also actually fits with Bruce's parents Thomas and Martha Wayne. Furthermore, my Dad specifically was employed as a railroad police officer that I believe strongly reinforced my sense of what right and wrong was outside of my own interpretations. He did not break the law, therefore I didn't either.


This dual reinforcement of proper morality is one of the crucial traits I believe has made me who I am; someone who abides by the law thereby affording the correct psychosocial personality traits and life decisions thereafter. Not the opposite. No one to be feared for what danger I supposedly pose to the general public for talking about topics like depression and suicide, especially. I am me; a force for good to be reckoned with.


On the other hand, exactly how do I feel now about what I have endured?


Well...


This is the answer I could have given from the very beginning.

The Dark night begins

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

With the exceedingly psychological portrayal of young Bruce Wayne from Christopher Nolan's film, Batman Begins, Bruce's fear of bats becomes the scapegoat to blame himself for having urged his parents to leave the theater just prior to their murders. He felt it was his fault. In a very real way, Bruce exhibited a misplaced sense of responsibility which the fear of bats manipulated to influence his decisions for the next number of years. While I do not share the same fear as he did in the film, my demon has equally crippled me to the point of having changed my life ever since.


As is quoted later in Batman Begins, "There is no fear but fear itself". The fear I developed is actually quite astounding. In fact, and I swear on my namesake Uncle's grave, after all these years only just now did I actually look it up to make sure whether it fit the facts of my past or not. And it did, very much so.


Chronophobia; fear of one's future.


On one warm summer night during 1994, before I was to begin attending Junior High school for the first time, I broke down and wept while sitting alone on the front porch. I became overwhelmed by the fear of not being able to figure out what career goals to pursue, nor being able to envision or believe in where I would be ten years into the future. With the portrayal of Bruce Wayne having been so identifiable to me, the ground work was laid out for me to take responsibility years later in my own life. So essentially both the character Bruce Wayne and I suffered from a life-altering fear, which influenced our behavior in ways people can by now see as both being positive and negative. Yet, the similarities do not stop there.


After the flashback to his tragic childhood memories from Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is depicted later taking a handgun into court intending to exact revenge upon his parent's murderer. Bruce made an emotionally influenced, yet fundamental choice that, if carried out, would cross the line of ethics and morality. This experience can be described as a psychologically formative moment in Bruce's development as an adult. One that could either take him down a darker road or put him on the path to something more. Here again I share this unique experience with him, but in a way that only now can I realize because I am so far removed from that time of my life to actually recognize it.


By New Year's Eve of 2002, I had struggled my way through nine whole years of anxiety symptoms and deepening depression all originating from the onset of chronophobia in 1994. I felt as if there seemed to be no end in sight. This all came to a head during the following summer of 2003, when I unexpectedly turned on myself by rationalizing a chilling self-fulfilling prophecy that I hoped would solve my dilemma once and for all. This dangerous way of thinking, of gambling, could have easily cost me my life which is why I strongly urge no one to ever consider the same decision.


I finally broke down and admitted to myself of having had enough of my torment, immediately followed by feeling compelled to take matters into my own hands. Same as Bruce was depicted deciding to take a loaded handgun with him into his parent's murderer's trial. Either he himself would commit murder to seemingly resolve his inner turmoil, or he would choose not to and find some sense of resolution and moral direction afterward. Either my overdose attempt would succeed and put me out of my misery, or I would be forced through a near-death experience that might change my life.


The distinction with the act of my overdose attempt that sets me apart from actually wanting to die was that I only chose to give up. I consciously chose not to use a method that would have worked, such as a gun or jumping off a bridge. Hence my use of the term weak when I describe the overdose attempt. I wanted myself to die same as Bruce wanted his parent's murderer to die. In those crucial moments, both the character Bruce Wayne and I had reached our own pivotal tipping points and moments of truth.


Neither Bruce nor I succeeded, yet both of us had still made the same fateful choice in our lives. What followed after these moments was an extensive period of time during which both Bruce and myself embarked on a journey of serious self-discovery and soul searching. This subsequent psychological growth and judgment is unique to people who experience tragedy in their lives, and can often lead to becoming social activists against what was suffered. We all know what happened to Bruce once he emerged from his soul searching.


Enter the persona defined by the Hero Complex.


Batman.

Caped Crusader

Posted on October 31, 2016 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy Halloween everyone!



The character Professor Charles Xavier showed that I can help other people because the need and ability to are there. On the other hand, the next comic book character delves into a more mystifying and darker influence with this layer of explaining why me, for being a social activist against mental illness.


The one and only, Bruce Wayne as Batman.


Before I begin, I would like to take this special opportunity to express my immeasurable gratitude to three individuals for their creation and contribution to this enduring and iconic comic book legend. The late American comic book writer, artist, and creator, Bob Kane, the late contributing writer Bill Finger, as well as director Christopher Nolan for creating the modern film interpretation so filled with psychology and realism that it made this character forever memorable in the hearts and minds of fans everywhere.


While I never really became involved in superhero comics, I can still remember seeing each Batman film from years past and finding myself influenced on some level. But what exactly could someone like myself find about this character to identify with, for comparison? Bruce Wayne is a billionaire. I have less than the full price cost of an automobile to my name. Bruce Wayne is the CEO of his own company, Wayne Enterprises, Inc. I am the operator of a free website while currently unemployed and living at home.


Bruce Wayne is therefore connected to scores of politicians, wealthy businessmen and women, with many connections. I, on the other hand, neither personally know nor have been lucky to associate with anyone influential of high society status further contributing to my lack of employment opportunities. Young Bruce Wayne lost his parents tragically to murder. Thank the Lord both my parents are still living and healthy. Here is where the line becomes blurred.


One of the major reasons why I have long since considered the character of Bruce Wayne to be so identifiable is because of how he is portrayed personalizing his parent's deaths thereby becoming the persona of Batman. Particularly in both the Batman Forever and Batman Begins films. From even a young age, Bruce took exceptional responsibility for the tragedy that befell his parents and chose to carry that burden on through the rest of his life. Although he did not necessarily have to, the fact that he did take personal responsibility is something that happens to to people in real life as well.


The personalization of tragedy can and often does happen, particularly to children at young ages, or in older age groups, after suffering through traumatic experiences. These individuals tend to fixate the blame and responsibility on themselves and internalize the event and emotional turmoil from then on. In some cases, the victims grow up actively promoting awareness or go further to dedicate considerable time and efforts to those public outreach endeavors. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are susceptible to developing negative side effects from the internalization such as depression and a wide variety of mental health complications.


It seems so did I.


One Batman film in particular actually first exposed me to the concept of this personalization during my childhood, while I was already subconsciously personalizing my own struggles at the time. Batman Forever, which was released in 1995 just one year into the onset of my first noticeable depression symptoms. In fact, during my late teens I vividly recall having identified with Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne and what the flash backs in the film depict young Bruce struggling with specifically after his parent's murders. A more modern interpretation of the character, with a far more visceral and psychological background, enhanced this perception a hundred fold.


Batman Begins, and the fear that shaped both Bruce Wayne's and my life turned out to be strikingly similar.