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Baby Reindeer – important reminders for us all

Glen Etive, Scotland

Before watching Baby Reindeer, I was aware that I may feel triggered.  There are scenes of characters in real mental distress and the story gets pretty dark.  It wasn’t an easy watch but I think it was powerful.  Here are some important reminders for us all.  Spoiler alert – If you still want to watch it then best to scroll past this blog.

Martha, once a lawyer, is now unemployed with no support network.  She has deep trauma from childhood and is lost and lonely.  She meets Donny when he serves her in a pub and he instantly reminds her of the baby reindeer she had as a child.  A reindeer that helped her feel safe.  From there, her obsession begins.  They have a nice friendship but then it gets messy.  She follows him, physically abuses him, camps outside his home, hounds him with messages every day and tries to destroy his career.  Many who watched the show have questioned how he took so long to report her behaviour.  Donny explains that he held off because he knew she was simply unwell and not a bad person.  We later find out there is a lot more to it.  He had been sexually abused numerous times a few years previously by a man named Darrien who was well, in a position of power and fully aware of what he was doing.  Many viewers were frustrated that Donny had not reported Darrien.  I get that.  It’s amazing how many people hold back due to fear or not wanting to acknowledge pain they have been through.  Some don’t want family or friends to find out, it’s easier to push things under the carpet.  We later learn that Donny’s Dad was also abused as a child, something he never spoke of.  History repeating.

In the end, Donny reports Martha but not Darrien.  Martha is surprisingly given 9 months in jail, which makes no sense as she clearly needed to get proper help in hospital.  With no support network, she sadly had nobody to ensure she got the care she needed.  Donny did try to get her help a couple of times.  I thought Donny’s reporting would be the blessing in disguise Martha needed and that with the right treatment, she could have a chance of recovery.  It turns out that in real life she didn’t go to jail and things are no longer an issue.  We don’t know about Darrien.

A big takeaway from this brilliant script is our reason why we do what we do.  Martha did some strange things because she was lost, deeply distressed and needed help.  She had a desperation for connection.  With a lack of capacity, she couldn’t see how her actions could be damaging to others.  I like the fact that Donny did show a genuine care for her at times, he wanted her to get well.  Darrien was motivated by hostility, power and control.  It’s a different ball game.  He should have been reported.  He should have gone to jail.

When a person is mentally fragile, their mind is basically a web of thoughts and fears.  I am not just speaking from years of research,  I have been there.  Sending multiple messages is common because the mind is working at the most crazy speed.  It will take the average person an hour to send hundreds of texts.  A person who is severely mentally distressed could do this in 5 minutes.  Time speeds up, everything can be so intense.  Lights, songs, words, music, ideas, communication.  It’s fast paced.  There is an urgency to whatever the narrative is and it can change quickly.  There are no helpful thoughts to question it, such as:  ‘slow down and think about what you are doing’.  It’s the ultimate race.  Examples could be:

I must set up the best band in the world right now and then a week later, I must set up the best political party.

I must cure covid right now, it has to be eradicated, two weeks later, I must help to end all abuse so there is freedom for all.

I must follow the signs from the universe, this person is my soulmate.  A week later, no I think it may be this person.

I must put a stop to this crazy matrix we are living in.  A week later, I must set up a freedom camp in the rainforest.

This is not just mental though.  The mind is indeed a melting pot of ideas but it is also physical, a person under deep distress may be unable to sit still or sleep.  They may need to listen to music and shake it off.  They may need to pace up and down.  Or go for a fast walk.  It can also be deeply spiritual and this is personal for everyone.

People like Darrien are slow and calculated.  They remain cool, calm and collected.  It is polar opposite.

In our world of social media, it can be very easy for those who feel lonely to latch on.  I’ve met people who joke that they think they are my best friend and it is perfectly harmless.  They love my writing or podcasts and they feel like they know me very well.  Perhaps they have related to me, my content has made them feel safe, heard and understood.  Putting in boundaries can be hard.  I love people.  I have had people who were unwell send me lots of messages.  I have had people make inappropriate comments.  I have heard all sorts of stories and theories.  Pre 2014, I used to be scared of mental illness but I am not any more.  I have a deep empathy for those who have been through mental trauma.  I can see through behaviours that society deems as weird and odd.  I have shared many meals with those who are struggling mentally and I have had great laughs, heard all sorts of wacky and wonderful thoughts.  Wow, there are some special minds out there and beautiful souls.  Whilst mental illness can upset me and I wish people didn’t have to suffer so much, it doesn’t scare me.  What does scare me is that we live in a society where it is normal to push genuine evil under the rug.  I would have liked scenes of Martha being discharged from hospital after a period of time, looking healthier and a scene of Darrien going to jail.  Many have commented that it would be really interesting to see the story through Martha’s point of view.  We definately need more of that on the screen so we can continue to challenge stigma and open our minds.  I do think the show has created a wave of compassion, with lots feeling a deep sympathy for Martha and Donny.  Both with their own issues.

Baby Reindeer is a great watch, amazing acting, wonderful writing but I think I will be watching lighter, feel good stuff for the foreseeable.

 

Jojo Fraser aka ‘Mummy Jojo’  is an award-winning mental health researcher, author, podcaster and speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate.   She is a Tedx speaker and a regular contributor on BBC radio.  Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental, emotional and spiritual health, making it accessible and relatable to all.  She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people.

She is a mega foodie and water baby and loves going on adventures, wild swimming and music.

Connect with her across social @jojofrasermojo

(the old Instagram was hacked)

Listen to her Tedx talk about the power of removing our masks.

Contact – mummyjojoblog@gmail.com

 

Mania and Hypo mania - Jojo Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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