Cartoons show me elements of DBT in practice.

I have been watching a lot of cartoons lately. (It’s mostly because after re-watching GoT four times in a row, you start to know what Little Finger is doing, and it becomes less exciting.) The cartoons I’m thinking of with this blog are Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I recommend all of these for Distress Tolerance purposes if you use DBT at all. Plus, they’re awesome shows.

***Spoilers ahead for all the shows listed above! Be warned: I’m about to go there.***

I like to think of Jake as my spirit animal. He is always looking on the bright side while still keeping it real. Lately I’ve been struggling, and coping with relationship dynamics and time management that seem insurmountable. I panic over the slightest things and get stuck in my head. I can’t seem to handle change in its smallest form, and then swing to the other extreme, abandoning all hope and willing to accept the end of the world as we know it. I’m also still off my birth control pills, so everything is as dramatic in my head as it sounds, albeit that logic keeps trying to insert itself without success. I keep trying to channel Jake, and his cool demeanor when he had ear imps. He literally says, “Well, now I’m a guy with these things on my head. I guess I’m just gonna roll with the punches.” That is a Radical Acceptance win. If Jake can roll with Chips and Ice Cream, I should be able to cope with my minor life issues.

Rick is another character I admire. Rick and Morty, for all it’s weird, sometimes totally gross stuff, is deep as fuck and makes me feel less alone in the world. Rick has been straight up suicidal in a way that made me feel seen, even though my own attempts were over a decade ago. It was dark, and depressing, but it was about suicide. That’s dark and depressing! It’s also reality for a lot of people. I don’t struggle with suicide like I did years ago, but I had the good fortune to have amazing therapists, an epic support system, and a ceremony to have helped close that door. I still struggle with other things. While it’s no longer about ending my life, the struggle stands, and Rick struggles alongside. Rick tends to maintain an attitude of “fuck it, we only have the moment” as well, which I appreciate. It is a Mindfulness win. And yet, despite the doomed state of us all, he makes his family a priority. Even Morty/especially Morty.

In one of the best episodes, Morty makes a point that is often on replay in my mind after panic swells and I’m drowning in all the fears and doubt. “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?” It sounds dark, and it is, but it gives me a sense of light in the darkness to know someone is laying it out there. It’s true: life is short, and often meaningless. But it’s what we have. So let’s enjoy a bit where we can, right?

I love the dynamics expressed in MLP. It’s the best part of the show, hands down. They even address being poly! (Just try and convince me that this episode isn’t about poly dynamics.) Sure, it’s cute and better written than one might assume, but the way that relationships are expressed is amazing. I see examples of communication growth throughout the show, with all the characters. Best of all, the show is self-aware and highly invested in its fan base, so it seems to talk back to the consumers. (Example: ALL of this episode.) They have a dialog going, the creators and the audience, in a way that rarely exists and less so in animation.

My boy compared me to Twilight recently, which is a character I’d always assigned to someone else in my mind. However, I do see myself in Twilight, now that I’m looking. My communication in all my relationships has grown spectacularly over the last few years. I’ve earned my wings, so to speak. I’ve studied hard, and been open about my findings as they occur, like Twily does via writing. I’m more self-aware, and able to correct mistakes I made from ignorance previously. I have a variety of relationships: family, friends, romantic, kink-based, professional, purposefully distant; they all display sets of healthy boundaries that I’ve discovered and implemented throughout the years. They are all flexible and open to new growth and change. It’s the best Interpersonal Relationship win I’ve had to date.

There are other cartoons that show me more examples of good therapy practice, including Regular Show and South Park, but that’s for another post. I need to get ready for chores….but I think I like posting this sort of thing. I want to show the things I’ve learned…I feel like I’m trying to answer that question from last year, “How did you get over it?” (My response was that some days, I’m not over anything at all.) Maybe one day I’ll know how best to answer, and then someone else can feel like they’re getting better, too. I don’t think we get over things so much as we get better at dealing with the way things are. In the meantime, cartoons help.

-recommended viewing-

Adventure Time s06e34: Chips and Ice Cream

Rick and Morty s02e03: Auto Erotic Assimilation 

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic s05e12: Amending Fences

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