Depression in a fantasy world

Alexandra Brell

Chances are most of you saw at least one movie over the semester break. Chances are you remained emotionally unscathed as a result. Chances are, though, some of you have fallen prey to the “Avatar” blues.

When I first heard about this epidemic, I rolled my eyes so high and far back in my head it hurt. Let me explain in case you haven’t seen this in the news or read about it in the blogosphere: Many people who have seen the movie “Avatar’ are claiming to be depressed, even having suicidal thoughts upon realizing their own lives and surroundings fall short of those in the world of Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system that is the setting for the film.

In the interest of full disclosure, fact #1: I have not seen the movie in its entirety. I have seen a good portion and it looks incredible. Let me be clear: I am not debating the genius production skill of James Cameron, Jon Landau and the slew of others involved.

In the interest in full disclosure, fact #2: I am not claiming to be the poster child for complete mental health but I am doing all right. I am aware enough and empathetic enough to know that depression is not to be taken lightly.

If “Avatar” is a depressive trigger for you, then there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed. If you are bummed that your life sucks and you’re using “Avatar” as an example to justify how terrible the world is, if you think you will never achieve the feeling of utopia, and if you’re using it as a reason to no longer shower – give me a break.

This depressive state is an affront to those who may truly suffer from depression.

Any legitimate medical source, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, says that depression is a “serious medical condition” that can be triggered by a severe life-changing tragedy. Another theory is that depression is caused by a possible chemical imbalance.

If you are unfamiliar with depression, a little research will show you how prevalent it is among people of all ages. More importantly, you will learn how serious it can be.

However, if you are fragile enough to have your world shaken by producers and post-production experts in Hollywood, I’ve discovered some other cinematic depressives that run the risk of forcing you under the covers:

“Up in the Air” – If George Clooney is lonely, there’s no hope for you or me.

“It’s Complicated” – Meryl Streep has TWO men?

“The Princess and the Frog” – Ladies, please. Do you think you or your daughters will ever achieve the flawless beauty of a Disney princess?

Do you want to see examples of a less than charmed life? Do you want to see life-changing desperation that would take even the most mentally strong and cause them to wilt? Turn to any hard news outlet and let me know what you saw last week? Yesterday? What do you see today?

Life is meant to be imperfect. That’s part of the beauty of it all. Living, learning, loving and the uncontrollable – none of it is experienced without its flaws and missteps. The growth of mistakes is an underrated blessing.

If “Avatar” or any other fantasy story shows you the kind of world you think is out of your reach, then take some action for the greater good instead of retreating because you feel your life is inadequate. Get up off your ass, open the curtains, eat a sandwich and figure out ways you can be beneficial to society. Reach beyond your self-absorption and give to others. Try creating a universe in which we can all be happy to live.