The world has gone stir crazy with views on mental illness; the awful stigma attached to it is something we desperately need to get rid of in order to help those who are suffering. Unfortunately, there aren’t any immediate answers and society continues to have its eyes closed, but E4’s run of My Mad Fat Diary certainly aims to help.
The show is a coming of age series that speaks either a shocking or relatable language. The best thing about My Mad Fat Diary is that it doesn’t sugar coat what it’s like to suffer; it throws both Rae Earl (Sharon Rooney) and its audience into a set of unpredictable situations that trigger an abundance of responses, showing the true extent of what it’s like to suffer with mental health issues that are typically considered taboo.
Based on the real life diary of a 17-year-old teenager leaving an adult psychiatric ward in 1989, My Mad Fat Diary is set in the 90s when mental health in young people was neither widely nor openly discussed in comparison to today’s society. As well as being extremely conscious of her body, Rae Earl was battling extreme anxiety, self-harm and an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Sharon Rooney succeeds in playing Rae Earl incredibly well, perfectly portraying every emotion to make you sympathise with her. Having a strong desire to fit in as well as being body conscious and boy crazy, her character experiences what many girls go through in their teens which makes the programme relatable.
The relationship she has with her mother is rocky to begin with, her unwillingness to talk about her illness creates friction between herself and her best friend, and her therapist’s attitude could be considered unprofessional. As Rae begins to understand her illnesses more, however, she understands the way it has affected her relationships. When we see her mental health take a relapse back to the downward spiral, it’s these relationships that save her.
In the very last episode of the last series, Rae so beautifully describes the way her mental health feels to her friends and in a lot of cases, this one description is as accurate and honest as it gets:
“The only way I can describe it is… It’s like I’m walking through a forest the whole time and for the most part it’s fine; it can be beautiful, peaceful even. But you always know that at some point you’re gonna come across these parts of the forest that you don’t recognize; dark corners that you didn’t know were there but you always kind of knew they were coming, and that’s when the world gets kind of scary and that’s when you can lose your way.”
Though it’s a show that isn’t without its flaws, My Mad Fat Diary dives into the mind of a girl who is larger than life, covering all areas of teenage dealings. It’s a representation of who we are, who we might become, and the decisions we have to make to be the women we might later be in life. Though some of us aren’t as strong as Rae Earl by the end of her struggles with mental health illnesses, I have faith that one day we might be. Rae’s character shows us how much things change as we travel the rough road to recovery; through the ups and downs we can grow stronger. With the help of ‘the gang’, Rae found enough strength to move forward with her life and understand her feelings more.
Overall, My Mad Fat Diary has a beautiful story that has helped so many people come forward and be open about their illnesses. Allowing the opportunity to still find something funny in the midst of a serious issue, the show is a must watch. Although it’s come to an end and it’s sad to say farewell, I have no doubt that the fan base will continue to expand.
What did you think of My Mad Fat Diary? Are you sad it’s over?
Comment with your thoughts.