Talking about Community (TV show) and Mental Health


Last time I marathon-watched Community I was in mental health crisis accommodation. The show held my sanity together in episode-long chunks. In fact, I would say that a combination of Community, and a couple of great mental health professionals, along with my determination to live life one minute at a time, were what recovered me from that breakdown. Watching it now reminds me of that difficult time, but also it reminds me of resilience, and the fact that I have come so far in the past year-and-a-bit.

The theme song to Community says “I can’t count the reasons I should stay, one by one they all just fade away”.

At the time, this theme song was a total hook into my mental health crisis: I couldn’t think of a single reason to stay alive. No amount of prompting from other people gave me a concrete case for living, but this theme song, and its casual, humorous admittance that the reasons to stay were fading away, gave me strength.

Sometimes people try to convince others that they do, in fact, have a reason to live. This is often well-meaning, but not always helpful. Sometimes all people need to hear is validation and empathy “yeah there really is no point to life, hilarious and terrifying isn’t it?”. I think people are so scared when their friend or relative stops seeing the point in life that they want to ‘fix’ this thought. Well, there really isn’t any fixing to be done. Even for a person in a totally healthy frame of mind, it seems impossible to pin down a ‘point’ to existence. Things like ‘love’ and ‘happiness’ can give people meaning and purpose, but in the end they don’t give a concrete answer to the question ‘why do we bother? what is the point?’. There just is no objective answer to this.

What Community does show is that no matter how little point there is (to existence, or to community college in fact!), people can still care about each other and be friends to each other. At the time I knew I had a couple of friends, but I had also lost friends and I felt lonely. The characters on this show became my friends. They also showed me that there was hope; that even in a pointless existence, it was possible for people from diverse backgrounds to get along with each other and be good to each other. This was something I had lost sight of having backed myself into a sub-culture and isolated myself there, only to find myself dumped and lonely when relationships failed. Daring myself to talk to the other people in my accommodation, and to eventually make my way back to Church, were all actions supported by my watching of this show. Sometimes embracing nihilism can give a person perspective (we are all together in this nihilistic nightmare and so we really need to be kind to one another).

It might surprise people that a Christian could be a nihilist, but I think that this is where faith comes in. If people were certain about their beliefs, then it wouldn’t be called ‘faith’. A leap of faith is just that – it is a leap that somebody takes who is not sure of the outcome. Trusting in God is a brave move for a nihilist.

Anyway, I will leave you with a clip from community. This is from an episode where Abed (who is the aspergers character on the show) has a mental health episode because his mum won’t be spending Christmas with him as per their usual tradition. He reacts by entering into a fantasy world where all of his friends are cartoons (the show is not usually in cartoon format). The episode highlights that supporting our friend’s processes is good, even if a person’s sense of meaning is shaken or abandoned. The ‘psychologist’ is trying to encourage Abed’s friends to challenge his delusion, but they refuse, and in the end this is what saves Abed.


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