In the beginning, Arrow was just the show that came on before Supernatural, but over time it became one of my favorite shows. When I went to Alamo City Comic Con, I decided I wasn’t leaving without an Arrow t-shirt and a picture with someone in an Arrow cosplay. I found the t-shirt, but missed every opportunity to pose with an Arrow cosplayer (I know, I have failed this post; in my defense, I was carrying my infant son, which made taking pictures difficult). Unfortunately, Stephen Amell did not attend this Con. (Stephen if you read this, this a hint: come to Texas, specifically Austin.)
I think I enjoy Arrow because I am a sucker for a damaged hero. I despise the all good hero, the one who has a moral code that he never breaks. I want to see the hero that struggles to walk the fine line between the light and the darkness. I need to see a hero who falls and gets back up, only to fall again. I need to see this, because I need to know there is hope.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Depression at age 12 and I had been fighting the darkness long before then. Even as a young child I struggled to control my emotions, especially my anger. I hurt people; with my words and with my fists. I felt like I had no control over my actions. When my emotions took over, it felt like there was someone or something else living inside me and I had to do everything I could to keep it chained so I didn’t hurt people.
I fought this battle alone, because the people raising me looked down on my mental illness. To them I was weak and broken; I could never be a person of worth because of my struggles with anger and depression, and I was a disappointment because I couldn’t get rid of it. It was during this time that I traveled to the darkest corners of depression; I contemplated suicide, thought about cutting, and wished that I had never existed. I was tired of fighting alone. I was tired of the terrible thoughts that crept into my mind and the nightmares that prevented me from sleeping; the darkness was winning.
Everything changed when I moved down to Texas to be with my mom and her family. I was surrounded by people who were strong enough to admit they too suffered from a mental illness. I wasn’t fighting alone anymore and it was such a relief. I found a psychologist, began counseling, started medication and I am on the road to healing. But every day is a battle, and there are still some days when it seems the darkness might win. There are days when I’m so depressed I don’t want get out of bed; days I’m so angry that I use my words to hurt people, and I seem to know what will hurt someone the most.
This is why the character of The Green Arrow is so important to me, even if he is just a fictional character. He has shown me that you can’t get rid of the darkness; it is always there. It follows you and sometimes it wins, but you have to keep fighting. Sometimes you make mistakes and slip back into old habits, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. We fall, we get back up, we fall again, but this does not mean we can’t keep moving forward.
And this is why I wish we had seen more of Oliver’s struggle with PTSD at the beginning of the show. I connected with the show because of one scene; the moment when Oliver’s mother tries to wake him from a nightmare and he instinctively attacks her. I connected with Oliver because he was, and is, a character struggling with a mental illness.
I think it would have been interesting to see a scene with Oliver and Tommy roaming the city, when they hear a loud noise similar to a gunshot and Oliver ducks or jumps in front of Tommy to protect him and then he sees it was just a balloon popping. Or Thea is watching a movie and Oliver comes bursting into her room because he heard gunfire. This would pull the audience even more into Oliver’s struggle to assimilate back into society.
I also hope that one day (it could’ve already happened, being a new mom I haven’t been able to keep up with the most recent episodes) we get to see Oliver in therapy. I think this would be a great way for the writers of the show to reach out to the fans who suffer from mental illnesses; a way to say it is okay to ask for help. I know this is a lot to ask from a show, but to some, the actions of a fictional character can mean more to them than the actions of people in real life. Sometimes, fictional characters are the only ones who understand us.
To the Arrow fans who read this, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know it is okay to ask for help. I did, and it was the best thing I could’ve done. Remember to keep fighting and that you are making progress, even when you can’t see it.
Everyone has a favorite superhero and the Green Arrow has become mine, because he has shown me that damaged heroes are still heroes
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