I’m only a few episode’s into FX’s Legion (so don’t spoil it for me), a superhero show about a character from Marvel’s X-men. Or at least that’s what it’s sort of about. Really, it's about mental illness. David Haller, the main character, has schizophrenia or at least that’s what he thinks, until a group of fellow mutants free him from a mental hospital and save him from potential government experimentation. Turns out all the things he’s be hearing and seeing are real. Even though he’s learned that his powers don’t mean he is crazy in exactly the way he thought before, it now means he has to comb back to his past to do” memory work” so he can unlearn various wrongs he’s thought and believed that impact his ability to control his powers. Plus he has to go through various psychotherapy-esqe conversations and tests if he wants to learn how to control his powers and feel sane.
If you have every been through psychotherapy (like me), you might find yourself going “Wait, that sounds like psychotherapy”. You maybe remember your own counselor asking you to remember your mess from your past that you think you are better off forgetting, or asking you to dissect why you go off on those you love when they say that one certain thing. Or maybe it’s just me. I mean Legion’s memory work includes a mutant that helps the characters literally walk through their old memories. So, it’s way cooler to watch on TV, but you get the idea.
David’s love interest tells him that if he wants to get better, to learn how to use his powers rather than be tortured by them, he’s going to have to do the work. And I flashed back to years earlier when my own counselor “fired me” because as she put it, I was immensely better because I had been willing to ‘do the work’. Now this didn’t stop me from needing to visit her again in a couple years. But, still I couldn’t help but feel the obvious parallel that this show was making.
When David does the work, David will get better (at least, that’s what we hope. Again I’m only a few episodes in). When we are willing to grapple with harsh memories, talk about our triggers, or otherwise be vulnerable with people who can help us, we do the work. And we can, hopefully, get better. Maybe we, like David, can stop seeing our own weirdness as weakness but as a superpower. Or at least, see how it could become that.