Saturday, 17 December 2016

Depression and Friends

A while ago I talked about my therapy and my medication. I got a lot of positive reactions from those blog entries. Loads of people telling my I'm strong and courageous for (publicly) speaking up about it. Or that they were there for me if need be, if I wanted to talk or something. This was heart warming, especially because I felt so alone before. A friend of mine told me she felt bad for not talking to me more. She pointed out that, even though she wished she could have helped me more in some ways, she did not know how to talk about it because she'd never been in my position. For her it was a difficult and uncomfortable subject because she didn't know what to say.  She ended with asking what she could have done (or do) for me. I realized that I talked about what happened, how I solved it and my ongoing journey to a better version of Alyssa. But I have not pointed out what it is I needed from the people around me.

In my blog entry called Life Lessons & Therapy, I pointed out that I had a lot of things going on, one of which was the fact that my social contacts were fading and breaking due to my issues and feelings. This was a problem, because I hoped the people around me would notice I wasn't doing so good without having to actually tell them. I realise now that, even though it was what I thought I needed, it was a crazy expectation, one no one would ever have been able to figure out. Simply because everyone has their own things going on and I was doing my very best to hide what was really going on. Whenever I had one of those days in which I felt like crap, I would just avoid people. Not necessarily ignore them but just cancel appointments with little lies so nobody would see how weak and pathetic I was (my own thoughts at the time, nobody actually said this), even if I secretly just wished they would come over anyways and hug me.

I remember lonely days and nights, with loads of crying and just wondering why I was alone. Why didn't anybody notice? Doesn't anybody care? But how could they if I did my very best to never show them scars, tears, or bad days? I wasn't explaining it to anyone so how could they know? How could they help me if I didn't want them to know? Well.. they couldn't. That does not mean that there weren't things that would have helped, or things that did the exact opposite of helping. What didn't help was not being invited. That may seem like another impossible expectation because nobody gets invited for everything. Also, who wants a gloomy person on a fun night out? Nobody I guess. But I remember, especially when I just started my meds, people wouldn't invite me because I wouldn't be able to come (or wouldn't want to) anyways. But you see the thing is, I'm not a mind reader. 

If my friends have a fun night out and (together) did not think to invite me, I assumed they didn't want me there. If they wanted me there, I would have been invited, right? Especially when they would tell me all about it afterwards. Aside from all this, what I really needed was just hugs and shoulders. I did not need great advice, or life lessons, or "hey, it'll be okay". I just needed company. The best days were the days when Fabian would just show up and hug me while I cried. We'd watch Disney films of Friends or whatever I felt like. In my case that could have been the best thing ever. Or when he listened on to me crying over the phone, just being there. I never expected anyone to solve my problems or to have all the answers. I just needed people around me, I needed love. I needed phone calls and text of people who told me they wanted to hang out with me. Or responses to the texts I send to people when I was lonely. My sadness may have made people uncomfortable. Especially if you don't know what to say. But I just felt so lonely most of the time. After I moved to Utrecht, I was living on my own for the first time in my life. And it was horrible. I didn't know how to do that. I would just sit in my room, looking at my walls and wondering why it was so quiet. I was so alone and vulnerable. 

Whenever I see a picture on the internet that says 'depressed people don't need pills, they need a good walk in nature', (example on the right) or something. It really pisses me off for two reasons. First of all, everyone has a different way of dealing with problems and sadness. Now it may be true that a good walk never hurt anyone, but in some cases the big and wide environment of nature (especially when alone) made me feel so vulnerable and small. Two: it makes it seem as if the person saying that your problems aren't problems. It has absolutely no regard for whatever someone is going through. That's the thing I hate most I think. People who don't know what's going, who have never experienced therapy or whatever themselves, telling me what it is I need. Saying: 'just go out and exercise, you'll feel better', without realising that their 'just' is really difficult for someone who has a difficult time (this is an understatement) getting up in the morning, let alone getting out of the house.

It's difficult to really pin-point what it is I needed, because I don't feel like I did a year (or even a few months) ago. I couldn't keep up with my social-contacts for a while (next to therapy and uni and everything) which means that I have 'lost' a number of friends. All I have to say about that is that it's okay. I remember freaking out after primary school because I was so scared of losing my friends, but I moved onto high school and made new friends. Same thing happened when I went to the HU. And again when I went to from the HU to UU. It's just what happens. It doesn't mean people get replaced, it just means it's okay to move on. It does not take away from the amazing times you had before. It just means that people get out of touch. It's why I adore Facebook sometimes. I love seeing how people are doing. Who's travelling where or who has graduated from college. It shows me that those people I once talked to every day are okay too.

I hope this cleared some things up. I hope this may help anyone with maybe helping and connecting with friends who are struggling. Of course it doesn't mean that they need the same thing.. but I think showing someone you care, or that you're there for them, really helps. I know it helped/helps me, which is why the responses I got are so amazing and heart warming :) Thank you!

Lots of Love,
Alyssa 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Thoughts on Tarzan & Adaptations

By UlaFish (deviantart)
I'm currently taking a course called 'Adapting to the Novel' and I'm absolutely loving it. Especially because it's addressing a lot of novels I'm really interested in (Peter Pan, Tarzan, Lolita, Jane Eyre, etc). I really want to write an essay on Peter Pan so I won't go into that story just yet, to avoid plagiarism ( I will probably address it after January). This gives me the opportunity to write about Tarzan now, because I can only write about one novel for my essay. Also, it's super interesting to look at. I will talk about the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Disney's Tarzan, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932 film, just a little because it's a bore) and the Legend of Tarzan (with Margot Robbie). Before I start addressing the novel and it's adaptation I would like the state that the novel, published in 1912 (holy.. that's more than a century ago. I just realised this), is rather racist, sexist and a lot of other things. And as a person I was not amused by this but I forced myself to look passed this.

That being said, I really enjoyed the novel. A few class members stated that our generation can only view the book through the aforementioned Disney film, because most of us were exposed to the film before reading the novel. However, that only applied to me for the first couple of pages, after that I  experienced it much like I would any other new story; namely as an independent experience. I could not view this Tarzan as the same character I know (and love) from the film, simply because they are extremely different. I did, however, experience this when watching The Legend of Tarzan. I went into that with no expectations whatsoever due to what I heard from other people (namely that it's crap).  I watched this film through the novel (having finished the novel a few hours prior to watching this film). And I don't know, maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much.

The new Tarzan film really paid attention to detail. In the Disney film it begins with Tarzan and his parents, who are shipwrecked and build a tree house together to live in the jungle. We see Kala lose her baby and we learn that Tarzan's parents were killed by the Sabor (as well as the baby, though in the novel it dies because it falls from it's mothers back). So Kala takes Tarzan and raises him as her own. She does not die, nor does Tarzan find the cabin his parents stayed in. In fact the first time he sees Jane is the first time he ever sees another human-being (because the African Tribe is completely omitted from the equation in this version). However, in the novel Alice Clayton (his mother) and Lord Greystroke (his father) are put on the beach by pirates. The pirates killed the captain and then took over and while they were doing so the Clayton's stayed out of it causing them to live but putting them in an unfortunate position. Thus they are abandoned on the coast of Africa. 

Lord Greystroke (or Clayton) builds a cabin while his wife is pregnant and does nothing (in Disney they build it together). At one point she has to kill an animal to save her husband, after which she faints and goes insane (as I said.. the novel is rather sexist). She gives birth to a baby boy and a year later she dies due to weakness (no actual cause of death is given). When Clayton is burying her, he forgets to take a weapon with him. Unfortunately for him that's when the Apes decide to strike the beast that has been killing animals in their jungle and thus he is killed by the alfa male of the tribe. Kala has lost her baby at that point and leaves the body of her dead baby in Tarzan's crib while taking Tarzan in it's stead. She raises Tarzan as her own and he becomes mighty strong. Nobody in the tribe really likes him (safe for Kala). At one point he finds the cabin and he educates himself to such an extent that he can read and write proper English. He also finds some of the weapons in the cabin and later on takes some weapons from a near by African Tribe. That's how he eventually becomes King of the Jungle considering he's smarter than animals and uses the aforementioned weapons to his advantage, which causes him to be able to defeat the animals that are physically stronger/heavier than he is. At that point he is skilled enough to be able to kill a dangerous animal in a matter of minutes (piece of cake, that's how its portrayed in the novel). Kala gets killed by a teen from the African tribe and he thus kills the boy. 

The  whole novel is a struggle of Clayton adapting to the Jungle, following Tarzan trying to adapt to civilization. It's an interesting story and it's more or less used in the new Tarzan film (which is (I think) based on one of the 22 sequels). His mother dies for no apparent reason (very dramatically I might add), then his father is killed by the Apes, Kala is killed by a boy and Tarzan kills the boy (which causes the father to want to kill him, which is basically the reason why Tarzan was send to Africa in this story). However, it has also changed the plot on other elements. For example, he meets another African tribe after meeting Jane (who lives with the tribe), even though he previously killed the boy and thus had already seen humans. So even though the tribe  is not omitted in this version, it has slightly changed the essence of the tribe. Why? Well, because (in the novel) the African tribe appears to be more savage than the apes with whom Tarzan lives. They are said to be cannibals and they are not as friendly or kind as the apes. This is  also why Disney deleted the tribe, simply because the racism surrounding these people would have been problematic. They decided to delete it all together to avoid these problems (which in turn also makes it racist but hey, they tried I guess. Disney is known to be racist anyways).

Reading the novel made me see the Disney film in different light, but it also gave me the opportunity to view the new film as 'not bad'. I can really appreciate his silent nature in this version, simply because I read what he had to go through to get to that point. It really addresses his brooding nature. He's too happy and cheeky in Disney's but that makes sense too because it had to be family friendly. Making him silent and brooding also gives depth to the relationship between Jane and Tarzan. She's happy, sweet and almost childish; he's strong, sweet and silent. It made it feel so raw and real. There are loads of films in which couples are separated and then there's some suspense before we (as a viewer) know whether one of them survived or not. And some may think it was dramatic, I just perceived it as painfully real. I now realise that I haven't really talked about Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), but guys.. it's so boring. Tarzan does not talk at all. He's really dull in this version simply because he never taught himself to read/write, nor did anyone teach him to speak. So it's basically Jane screaming and babbling the whole time. Also the plot is changed dramatically. To such an extent that I wouldn't even have recognized it as Tarzan in different circumstances. It almost reminded me of George of the Jungle. I hope you enjoyed this entry. Let me know which tale you'd like to know more about next :)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Alice's Adventures: Carroll vs Disney


It has been awhile but here I am with another famous story and it's adaptations. This time it's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll (or Professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson if you want to name him by his real name). Many of you probably know Alice from the Disney film(s) Alice in Wonderland, either from the old animated version or the more recent live-action film (or both). I recently read the novel for one of my many essays (which is one of the reasons I have been a tat absent). That particular essay involved censorship in China, an issue I will not go into right now (though if you that are interested in it, I can tell you all about it). I will not provide you with a summary of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, however I will point a few differences and summarise Through the Looking-Glass, because film (produced earlier this year) is not faithful to the novel. 

So the most interesting difference between the novel and newly produced live-action film starts with the tea-party. The animated Disney film actually did a pretty good job of depicting the novel. It's confusing and sad in a way, just like the novel. However, the live-action makes it friendlier. The hatter and March Hare give her riddles and stories while the Dormouse keeps falling asleep. We learn that they have a tea-party forever due to the fact that time punished them (which is brought back in the film Alice Through the Looking-Glass). They insult Alice and she becomes very frustrated. You see Alice is not making friends when she is in wonderland. The Mad-Hatter is not nice to her at all, nor are most of the other characters. They either upset her, frustrate her or even hate her. 

At the end of the novel, she is in the middle of a court hearing. She has been called up as a witness but she does not agree with how things are done in this particular court because it's so different from what it would be like in England. The Queen does not like this and tells her card-soldiers to catch her, which is when Alice wakes up and finds herself lying in her sister's lap. We are confronted (as readers) with the fact that all of it was a dream. Alice even states that herself. This is also the case in the Disney animated film but far from the case in the live-action films (or the Once Upon A Time spin-off for that matter),  in which Alice is convinced her fantasy world is real and will do absolutely anything to prove it. In both Alice Through the Looking-Glass and the Once Upon A Time spin-off, Alice ends up in an asylum because the people around her believe her to be hallucinating when it comes to her experiences/adventures.

So lets cut to Through the Looking-Glass. In the novel its just another adventure in her world that does not involve the Mad-hatter at all. She steps through the mirror and finds the chess pieces on the other side of it. After walking out of the house she comes across talking flowers, who tell her the Red Queen is in the area thus Alice goes looking for her (I don't know why, doesn't seem like someone you'd like the see). They meet and the Queen criticises her because she does not behave correctly (this happens a lot in both novels, because Carroll was obsessed with teaching children how to speak properly). They engage in a game of chess and if Alice wins she will become a Queen. After that it's a bit confusing at times, the novel has a dream-like quality at this point. A little later Alice realises that she has forgotten her own name (among other things).

After walking into the forest with a Fawn (who's memory is also failing), they soon find that their memories have come back and the Fawn runs away. This is when Alice meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee (the twins), who tell her she only exists in the Red King's dream. This upsets her and she decides the twins are talking nonsense, which causes the twins to engage in a wild discussion, which is interrupted by a giant crow who scares the twins off. This is when Alice meets the White Queen who tells her time moves backwards in this world. She then encounters a sheep in a shop, something weird happens with a boat and then she purchases an egg from the sheep which then transforms into Humpty Dumpty who sits on a wall and goes on to criticise Alice on her name. He's under the impression that he has power over words and can change their meaning. This annoys Alice and she leaves him.

Alice encounters the White King and a bunch of soldiers. She learns that there is about to be a big battle.  A red knight tries to take Alice but a white knight stops him after which the white knight and Alice engage in conversation. He promises to take her to the last square where she will become Queen. She finds herself in the company of the Red and the White Queen. They question her and soon after they vanish (too). This is when Alice encounters a huge castle marked Queen Alice. She goes through the door and starts to eat a banquet, which causes the party to devolve into chaos. This is when Alice, once again, wakes up and finds herself holding her cat.

Obviously, this is very different from the film that was produced earlier this year. In the film Alice goes back to her friends, to help the Mad-hatter (who's dying) with finding his family. She has to go to Time (a person, who is dating the Red Queen) so she can go back in time and safe the Mad-hatter's family. This causes a lot of problems (it usually does when people decide to mess with time). It is basically all about the Mad-hatter finding his family, discovering why the Red Queen is such a bitch toward everybody (and why her head is so big) and Alice improving her relationship with her mother. I honestly enjoyed the film but it was not what I was expecting. It makes the characters seem so lovely and loving. But originally the Mad-hatter is not even Alice's friend, nor is he in Through The Looking-Glass. The sad thing, though, is that because in this story line it is not a dream but a version of reality, she has to say goodbye to her friends forever (or at least that's what they think) and it's so sad!

When reading the Alice novels I realized that they really are books of nonsense. This was what Carroll intended to do with his books because he originally wrote them for his young friend (he really liked the company of girls under the age of 13.. seriously it's disturbing) Alice in 1865 (and 1871). But reading it as a grown-up in 2016, I can't help but think this would never be read by a child in present-day society because it is not easy to understand due to the use of language in the novels. If you'd like to know more about Lewis Carroll's pervert tendencies (or if you ask me rather his transgender behaviour), or about why China banned the novel in 1931 (which was quite justified if you look at China at that time) don't hesitate to ask :) See you next week!