We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which fictional characters helped them understand their mental illness. Here are a few of their most heartwarming responses.
1. Rae Earl, My Mad Fat Diary
"It wasn't made when I was a teenager but when I watched the show it reminded me so much of myself at 16. Rae is relatable because of her insecurities, her tendency to compare herself to those around her and her self-abhorrence. Also I loved that she had thoughts that I thought only I had."
Submitted by chloet1991.
"Rae, with her struggles to accept herself, helped me grow to love and respect who and what I am during the most difficult time of my year. Rae means the world to me and I hold her very dearly in my heart."
Submitted by Iona Bulloch, Facebook.
2. Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
"Similar to Charlie, I was sexually abused as a child by a very close relative. I was too young to understand it, but the vague memories I have suppressed still haunt me. I had depression as a teenager, and the abuse was something that I would always go back to in my mind. I have yet to tell anyone about it. Reading Charlie's emotions on paper really helped me in seeing that my post traumatic stress was valid."
3. Ginny Weasley, The Harry Potter Series
"She suffered great trauma at a young age after being possessed by Tom Riddle but still overcame it to become a powerful young woman ... She's such a great character who is so underrated. A lot of people shit on her character because they don't like that she ended up with Harry, but there's so much more to her than who she married."
Submitted by Courtney George, Facebook.
4. Joel Barish, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
"He made me understand my feeling of isolation and loneliness, and the fear that I was really crazy when I had an episode of psychotic depression. He also made me understand and accept that bad memories are just as important as good ones in the process of recovery."
Submitted by Georgia Bowden, Facebook.
5. Ian Gallagher, Shameless (U.S.)
"I started watching the show around the time I started showing symptoms for bipolar disorder ... I binge watch shows pretty quickly, so I got to the fourth season within a couple of weeks. That's when Ian Gallagher had his first manic episode. At that point, I was aware of bipolar disorder, but I thought it was just mood swings. But as I had my first hypomanic episode, the show, and Ian's story, really helped me learn about it, and see myself as being okay, even though people around me treated me differently."
6. Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault In Our Stars
"As a person with anxiety, I always felt like a bomb waiting to go off, and I shut myself away to try to protect the ones I loved when I inevitably exploded. When Hazel told Gus that she was a grenade and was trying to minimise her damage, it was like someone had looked into my mind and put on paper the jumbled thoughts that had been floating through my mind. It made me feel less crazy because someone else understood."
Submitted by Libby Pappendick, Facebook.
7. Craig Gilner, It's Kind of a Funny Story
"Craig made me realise that depression can happen to anyone, even if they do come from a good family and have a good life, therefore I shouldn't feel guilty about my depression. He helped me to accept my disorder and do something about it."
Submitted by Ann Catherine Hughes, Facebook.
8. Fear, Inside Out
"Fear helped me understand my anxiety, and how to explain it. Before, my anxiety was just this presence that was there. I didn't know how or why, and I couldn't explain to people why I was so anxious about doing something. Now I can define my anxiety as Fear: It's this feeling that sometimes gets control of the console in my head."
9. Alaska Young, Looking For Alaska
"She was the first character I read that had some type of mental illness and it really shocked me that I wasn't the only one with these terrible thoughts, even though I had a 'perfect life', just like others thought Alaska did."
Submitted by noobas295.
"She helped me understand depression. In my teens I lost a close friend to suicide, and I struggled to understand what he must have been feeling. Reading Looking for Alaska helped me answer a lot of questions I had not only about his death, but about my own mental health."
Submitted by heleng4956a130b.
10. Spongebob Squarepants
"I was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome as a teenager and felt wildly out of control and utterly failed by my brain and its lack of ability to do its damn job properly. I watched a lot of Spongebob around that time; bizarrely that flamboyant yellow square helped me on my way to realising, 'Huh, so I can be a bit weird and people will still like me.'"
11. Effy Stonem, Skins
"She changed from such a strong person to one that was so vulnerable and unrecognisable, and hid that for so long from people she was close to ... Effy's story made me understand that mental illness is not logical, and it doesn't make you a weak person, but a strong one for continuing to fight to become 'normal' again."
Submitted by Anna Sellars, Facebook.
12. Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"She was depressed, numb and generally in an awful place that she couldn't seem to get out of. But she got through it. And she was okay with how she felt. She knew that it would take time to heal so she didn't force herself to be cheery all the time. That helped me a lot when I was younger."
Submitted by Millie Olivia Sansoye, Facebook.
13. BoJack Horseman
"Even though he's a man-horse in a satiric universe, it's the most humanistic way I've seen depression portrayed. Because it doesn't exaggerate, and it's not even the centre of it all. But it shows how it follows you everywhere and can sabotage your relationships and the things that once you loved doing."
Submitted by Anna Martin, Facebook.
14. Elliot Reid, Scrubs
"She was neurotic, self deprecating, body conscious, aggressive, and incredibly self conscious. One episode she would get a win and be flying high but the next she would fall right back into a pit of doubt. Over the show though her character developed and she took her flaws and learned to work with them, not cave to them. It was so refreshing to see someone with anxiety not suddenly shake it off, but live with it and even find people who love you for it."
Submitted by Katherine Flaherty, Facebook.
15. Stiles Stillinski, Teen Wolf
"I had always felt like what I experienced wasn't a panic attack because it didn't feel the way people described it but seeing him have one onscreen was like a message to me that it was what I was experiencing and that something really was wrong. Watching him deal with his panic and worry and PTSD has helped me to deal with mine and to feel like I can talk about it a little bit more and that I'm not alone. I honestly feel like he saved me."
16. Luna Lovegood, The Harry Potter Series
"I'm a woman with Asperger's Syndrome and always felt like a round peg in a square hole. Social convention makes no sense to me. Everyday life is a puzzle I can't figure out. Growing up I always felt broken and that there was something was wrong with me – Luna gave me the confidence that difference is good."
Submitted by emmarbowman92.
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
If you need information and practical advice on mental health, you can call the Rethink advice and information service on 0300 5000 927 (10am–2pm), if you're in the UK.
You can call the Samaritans for confidential support if you're experiencing feelings of distress or despair on 116 123 (24-hour helpline).
You can call the Crisis Call Center at 1-800-273-8255 at any time of the day if you're based in the US.