WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Martian turn back now if you haven’t seen it yet and want to eventually.
I just finished watching The Martian and I felt the need to write a review and explore how this movie made me feel. The movie is based on the novel The Martian by Andy Weir. It is a story of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope which highlights that the good people outnumber the bad by a large margin. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I did feel a bit shitty for being depressed even though I have a home and a family and a car and food when Mark Watney survived and I would say thrived in such a dire situation. I know this is foolish because comparing is never a good idea and Mark Watney is a fictional character but, it’s just how I felt initially. I wished I could be half as strong, determined, and intelligent as Watney.
In case you’re reading this because you have no interest in seeing this movie, let me provide a synopsis; Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is one of six crew members doing research on Mars when a massive storm hits. Commander Melissa Lewis (played by Jessica Chastain) orders an evacuation and on the way to their ship Mark is struck by debris and lost in the storm. He is believed dead based on the most recent telemetry reading which showed no signs of life so the crew leave Mars leaving Mark behind. Turns out Marks biomonitor was damaged by the debris which led to the erroneous no signs of life reading. He is injured and alone on another planet with no way to contact anyone on Earth. He makes his way to the hab (habitat) and very painfully removes the antenna which impaled him. He patches himself up and assesses his situation. He plants and successfully grows potatoes, he searches out the Pathfinder and repairs it so that he can contact NASA.
Once he makes contact all of NASA begins working around the clock to get him supplies as he’ll run out of food before the next trip to Mars. The attempt fails but they find another solution. With the help of China the crew that left him behind head back to Mars to rescue him. The last 15-20 minutes of the movie are incredibly stressful as the crew and Mark run into many problems along the way. Every time a crew member was in danger I kept thinking, “if one member dies to bring home another this will have been for nothing.” Against all odds they rescue Mark and make it safely back to Earth. We get a glimpse into all of the character’s lives years later and they are all happy and healthy. Mark is now a survival instructor for new astronaut candidates and we see him give an inspirational and no bullshit speech to the awestruck candidates. That was when I went from feeling crummy about myself to feeling inspired to make changes. This is the speech that inspired me:
At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you…everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one…and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.
It’s easier said than done but, he’s right. I have so many problems that I tend to get overwhelmed and as a result mentally paralyzed, stuck, unable to see the way out. I can accept my mental paralysis and stay in bed all day or I can get to work. This is not an indictment of depressed people. You are not depressed because you won’t do the work, the work just feels impossible for so long. This speech, at this point in my recovery, was exactly what I needed to hear but, I understand if it sounds more like, “get off your ass already” to you, if I’d heard it a couple of months ago I doubt I’d be writing a blog post about it. I’m thankfully on a slow moving upswing which does not feel like hypomania. I finally began painting, I did the dishes before bed the other night, I’ve created and kept up with a self-care chart, and I was able to toot my own horn for getting all that done.
I was starting to worry it was a fluke but, I’ve decided not to let that line of thinking to halt my progress and this speech helped me to rethink things in a positive way. Work on solving the problems, I’m already on my way. I’m not going to dwell on my failures or just blindly accept that this is me now. I’m going to work hard now that I have the energy and motivation and a so far so great new psychiatrist. I’m feeling better but, I need inspiration to keep me feeling better and this movie provided that. I don’t know that this inspiration will last forever but it should get me through a week or so and that is longer than I’ve had in a really long time. I hope this post finds you well or on your way to wellness.