In this blog we will discuss the Cartoon show “Adventure time” and how it addresses depression.
Adventure time and how it addresses depression
Adventure time has addressed the topic of depression in one of their episodes titled “I remember you” in the fourth season of it’s running.
Adventure time has proven again and again to be one of the best cartoon shows that not only entertain but also educate by the themes that are tackled in each episode.
The cartoon show has taken on not only depression as a theme of an episode but it has also taken on other controversial topics and have discussed these issues through plotlines and characters as a bid to inform children and start a conversation amongst them.
In brief, Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network show about a boy named Finn and his talking dog named Jake who is also able to shapeshift. Finn lives in an absurdist world who are continuously faced with villains, an Ice King is a regular, as well as multiple Princesses.
The TV show has broken stereotypes by showcasing Princesses not needing to be saved, vampire princesses who want to play bass guitar in a band as well as a princess who is not a damsel in distress but rather a scientist.
The show has been appreciated for its portrayal of interesting characters and even more interesting themes and in the episode “I Remember You,”- the show discusses depression.
The premise of the show follows the Ice King who wants to get himself a girlfriend and hears that women love men with tragic pasts.
To find himself a romantic partner, the king makes himself believe that he has a tragic past that he can’t remember so he takes his scrapbook to Marceline, the bass playing guitar princess to help him write a song.
Interestingly enough, the song eventually breaks down to him wailing about wanting someone to love him which reflects a loneliness that was not revealed earlier.
This particular loneliness is often very similar to that of people who have mental illnesses like depression- a deep loneliness and sense of isolation all the while desiring love and acceptance.
As the episode progresses, we come to learn that the Ice king has a brain condition that is caused by his crown which is also one thing that keeps him alive, this leads him to have no control over his own reactions and also leads to losses of relationships.
While he is unaware of his lost relationship with Marceline, we see that he is also unaware that this is hurting marceline because he has no self awareness of his behaviours- ironically asking “Why won’t anyone tell me what’s wrong with me?”
This particular episode that is only 15 minutes short, is a powerful and direct conversation about mental illnesses and how it can impact relationships, cause so much distress to the person with the mental disorder, and at the same time the people who live in close proximity with them.
What is depression?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.
Depression is marked by the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts.
Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives.
People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.
This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts.
While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death.
How to cope and manage if you have depression?
Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:
Seek professional help
If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field.
There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you.
Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different.
If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists.
The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way.
By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it.
Learn and apply coping skills
If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression.
This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques.
You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound,
Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning.
Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself.
You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones.
Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care.
Eat a healthy diet
Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health.
There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.
Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse.
Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are
- Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine.
- Exercise daily
- Avoid heavy dinners
- Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing.
- Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.
Connect with loved ones
Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.
These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life.
Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy.
You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.
Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.
In this blog we have discussed the Cartoon show “Adventure time” and how it addresses depression.
FAQ related to adventure time depression
Is Finn depressed in Adventure Time?
In various episodes of the show Finn falls into an unusually deep depression as a result of infatuation and high rejection sensitivity when he is faced with rejection from Bubblegum princess.
Does Marceline have BPD?
It is possible that the character of Marceline has Borderline Personality Disorder as she has an “intense fear of abandonment” as a result of being possibly neglected and abused by her father.
Is the Ice King mentally ill?
Yes, the ice king does seem to have a mental conditon that is causing him to lose memories. We come to learn that the Ice king has a brain condition that is caused by his crown which is also one thing that keeps him alive, this leads him to have no control over his own reactions and also leads to losses of relationships.
Brandon Zachary. Magic Is Madness: How Adventure Time Explores Mental Health. CBR. Retrieved on 30th April 2022. https://www.cbr.com/how-adventure-time-explored-mental-health/
Mind Over Pop Culture: Adventure Time “I Remember You” Mental Health America. Retrieved on 30th April 2022. https://mhanational.org/blog/mind-over-pop-culture-adventure-time-i-remember-you