The Fifty Shades movie is all the rage because of the sexual content in the story line but far more interesting to me is the psyche of the main character. There are allusions toward his upbringing and the mental distress he suffered that caused him to develop unconventional relationships. Skip to the scenes that speak of his childhood, his traumas, his unbearable secrets! As a psych major and compassionate person, I want to “figure him out” and “fix him,” not be entertained by his fantasy world.
Outside of fiction, in the real world, probably all of us have fifty shades to our personalities. We behave differently around particular people, we have ranging moods, talents, and traits, and we experience feelings, interactions and relationships to varying degrees. And that’s on a GOOD day. If you add any difficulties with our mental health such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or chemical dependency, our shades multiply and we don’t want anyone to see the dark ones, the embarrassing ones, the unspeakable ones.
As many shades as there are to our personalities, there are just as many root causes for illness and addictions. Depression alone can have more than 50 contributing factors such as loss, rejection, perceived failure, marital status, family history, poor self-esteem, childhood trauma, unemployment, alcohol abuse… to name a few. And as many contributing factors as there are, there must be an equal number of undesired outcomes: social withdrawal, poor concentration, fatigue, loss of appetite, anger and irritability, suicidal thoughts… The list goes on.
There is no shame in mental illness. No one asks to become sick or addicted. Each person is unique and copes with distress in whatever fashion they know and with whatever resources they have. Or perhaps they don’t cope at all, and the illness or chemical dependency takes over. When undesired outcomes are dominating the shades of our personality, it is time to seek help so that our “50 shades” don’t negatively affect those close to us or lead us to self-harm.