Note: For some context on my situation, see my blog. I don’t say Will is an absolute depiction of PTSD, just a good example of common symptoms.
Going into the show, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. Hannibal invoked awful memories. The premise seemed tasteless, pandering to people who like watching murder and torture from a distance — I expected even the characters themselves didn’t have to deal with what happens after dealing with horror on a daily basis, much less in a way I could relate to.
Except Will does.
The nightmares (and the insomnia they bring).
The flashbacks triggered by everyday things (daily sensory overloads).
The excessive sweat (I’ve changed my sheets three times this week).
Seeing yourself as the dark (ITSNOTYOURFAULT, they say. Ha.).
The visual hallucinations (don’t get me started).
Sleepwalking (degue states — walking for hours without realizing).
Inability to really talk to somebody about it since he’s staring into the dark alone.
(Because that’s the only way you can.)
Tonight, Will’s shown he hears things too. (No voices. Yet.)
And he deals with it by working. Taking care of dogs. A support system of sorts, with Hannibal (which
/who will bite him in the ass later, unfortunately) and Alana.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see a realistic depiction of PTSD. I’ve rarely seen someone else reflect what I go through in mainstream media without being demeaned, misunderstood, or rendered powerless.
He’s not a broken pony or delicate china or some other patronizing metaphor. He’s the antithesis to Hannibal’s detachment from humanity. He’s written to be unable to look people in the eyes and yet he feels pure empathy.
For someone with PTSD, you feel isolated. Social interaction is difficult. Even if people want to support you, and try to relate, they can’t really because they just can’t feel it too. It’s easy to be distrustful and suppress everything.
Will, with all of his trauma flayed for everyone to see, is able to share exactly what he wants to share and have the privacy to keep some things to himself. Will’s not given a pitying, get-out-of-hardships-and-work-free card. He works in spite of it all, is distressed but surviving, just like us. He has to.
It’s empowering to watch Will Graham.