The Mathison Misunderstanding

For some reason, at dinner last night, my mother and I happened upon the subject of Homeland – one of my favorite TV shows that I haven’t watched in ages for reason I can’t even describe.

And of course, I wanted to explain how I felt about people calling Carrie Mathison (the main character, a CIA agent played by the lovely Claire Danes) a “nut”.

Carries has Bipolar Disorder, and the show can get kind of scary when she goes into a manic episode because Claire Danes is really good at what she does.

I’ve heard people describe Carrie as a “nut” at least two times in casual conversation when talking about the show.  I don’t think I said anything – honestly I can’t remember.  But I was definitely trying my hardest to keep my mouth shut.

My problem?  It’s quite simple really – I believe that people shouldn’t be defined by their mental illnesses.  Mom was saying that I’m being too sensitive, Carrie is only a fictional character after all, and the people who said such things were only trying to describe her because they couldn’t remember her name.  I am fully aware that Carrie Mathison is a fictional character.  But in my opinion, that’s all the more reason to stop using “nut” as a descriptor.  I mean, how – and when, for that matter – did “nut” even become a way to describe someone anyway?  Nuts are literally things that we eat.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but using “nut” to describe someone with a mental illness, regardless of whether they are real or not, only perpetuates the stigma that has surrounded mental health for so long.  If people see something on TV, they are more likely to think that the situation is normal whether they are conscious of normalizing it or not.

While we’ve made some progress in removing said stigma, we’ve still got a long way to go.  But that’s just my two cents.

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