Mental Illness in the Hunger Games

I didn’t realize the connection I had with Katniss and Peeta as they experienced grief outside of the arena and after the war. It has taken me a while to understand how PTSD works, how anxiety and depression truly function. But, now, I feel a closer tie to these characters. I comprehend the messages in these stories even more than ever before. Katniss struggles to cope with the loss of Rue, of Prim, of Finnick, of so many people over the course of the stories. And, she feels so disconnected that she considers committing suicide.

Her hope is in Peeta. He is her dandelion in barren fields, the sunlight in a dark sky. He truly anchors her throughout the stories as she starts to trust him. But, even Peeta struggled to understand reality after being tortured by the Capitol. His “Real or not real” game with Katniss honestly reminds me of what it is like to have mental illnesses. When your mind is not well, it plays tricks on you. You cannot tell what is reality and what is pure paranoia.And, it becomes so confusing that all you can do is ask, sincerely, “Real or not real?”

Back to Katniss, who struggles to sleep, to use her bow and arrows, long after the games. If that is not a testament to how difficult PTSD is, I don’t what is. Yes, sure, she lives through the war, through the games (twice!), but even a strong girl like her is bound to break down. It’s only natural, honestly. But, it is also liberating to see that if a character like Katniss can get hurt by the things she faced, it is okay to go through the same thing. I am not saying that we all know what it’s like to go through wars; however, the struggles, the losses we experience are worthy of breaking us down at some point. Obviously, we have to fight. We have to be our own Mocking-jays, fight back the darkness, find the dandelions in our worlds. And, by the same token, our sunshine can falter and flicker. And, we need to be there for them. Support each other, and help get back up. That’s the best all of us we can do.

As Katniss says, “There are worse games to play.” Truly.

  ★QUESTIONS:Question #1: The Opening Ceremony: What book did you think had an incredible opening? I'll
  So, I bought The Disenchantments used and picked up my battered copy scared, because
Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.

Anl. Talking Tolkien

Having just revisited Middle Earth in movie form, it’d be fitting to talk about Tolkien’s work a bit on this blog. His work is valuable and offers great commentary about good and evil, temptation, and grace.

The Ring

The One Ring represents seduction to the evil of this world. Through it, Tolkien uses allegory to convey the importance of resisting temptations of evil.

Galadriel comes to mind, as she fights the ring’s call. She talks about how she could be a strong and terrifyingly effective queen if she had the ring. “All will love and despair.” It’s fear-based love, painful and anxious. Another example is Gandalf. He is pained when he tells Frodo that he’d not be able to control the ring. While he would be trying to use it for good purposes, it’d warp his power and produce negative outcomes.

Boromir falls into this trap. He is so sure that he’d use the ring to end the upcoming war on Middle Earth. Certain and confident in his own ability to resist it, that he doesn’t even see that thinking this way is a form of falling into temptation’s embrace.

Those who don’t try to hold the ring are rewarded for their actions. Aragorn become a great king. Gandalf becomes Gandalf the White. Sam becomes a hero and gets the girl. Merry and Pip become great warriors.

And, those who hold on to the ring are ultimately destroyed. Frodo and Bilbo are emotionally exhausted. Gollum is literally no longer in this world while the two Bagginses go to “heaven” in this world.


Unlike everyone in the story, Sam is unchanged by the ring, by the journey, and by the peril he encounters. He is the light for Frodo’s growing darkness. Resourceful and hopeful, he practically carries Frodo to Mount Doom.

He never has any desire to try the ring, no intentions or plans with relying on the ring at all.

The question is of whether you think it’s better to be unaffected or worn. Part of me admires Frodo for his brave decision to carry a burden on behalf of so many races in the story: Men, Elves, Dwarf, Hobbit, Wizards.

Good and Evil

Ultimately, this story is about temptation and its relationship with good and evil. Somewhat simplistic as an approach, but Tolkien relates goodness with the avoidance of temptation, or at least resisting it. However, to his credit, Tolkien still allows for a complex view of the nature of redemption. Ultimately, Frodo redeems himself by taking the burden and ridding the world from an extreme evil.

Your Turn:

What do you think of Tolkien’s depiction of temptation and choice? Share in the comments!


Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.
1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?  Maze Runner,  The Gemma
Today, a box of books appeared on our front step, which is probably the most

BR: Humor and Darkness in The Demon’s Lexicon

I got introduced to Sarah Rees Brennan through Cassandra Clare online. I feel a connection with certain writers. It’s not always spot on, but with SRB, it certainly was. When I started reading The Demon’s Lexicon, I was hesitant, at first, because I wasn’t sure about the set up and then later on because I started to love the characters way too much. It was truly terrifying to see the curses moving from one person to the next, the talismans lost, and demons summoned. Even now, I am scared for these precious babies.

Relationships: One of the things that I have loved most about Brennan’s writing is the relationships she establishes. For instance, I enjoy the relationship between Alan and Nick, I find it fascinating to see the relationship between the Ryves brothers and Jaimie and Mae as well. I like the push and pull between Alan and Nick while they try to figure out who they are and their relationship with the magicians. Olivia was also interesting in a haunting way. I like that she knows herself and her place in the world. I was sad to see her go. Maybe she can come back somehow. I don’t know, combustion seems kind of permanent.

Humor: The humor matched the darkness of the story, which was pretty refreshing. It honestly made me laugh a lot, just to hear the characters say the things they said, particularly Nick and Jaimie. They’re kind of an odd pair to see together, and they have their differences, for sure, so it’s a blast to read their interactions.

Originality of the World: Another superb aspect of the story was the originality factor. I like that the world was so unique and functioned within rules the characters address early on. The dances summoning the demons were epic and exciting. I just love the whole market atmosphere. It sounds so lively and tricky. I’m hoping to see the characters back at the market setting and interacting with the people there, because that’s probably one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Overall:  If you like “darker” characters, more morally ambiguous, then you’ll probably like the characters here. Everyone has complex identities and they have mixed feelings about each other. You really can’t predict what’s going to happen in the story, which is awesome to experience but also very scary. I honestly couldn’t read the book for years because I was frightened of what could happen in the first installment. I have the next one ready to go now, and I am going to delve in. Hope you check out this lovely hilarious author and read her books, too!

I read Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close a few years ago and it moved me tremendously. So,
  One of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter series is its symmetry. It is wonderful
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

Dreams & Destruction: Inception

There are  two other ways many mental ill patients, or traumatized individuals, deal with their overwhelming feelings: dreaming and construction. Like I have said before, this is not “sadness,” this is energy coursing through veins urging, moving a person. Inception is a story essentially  about a team of “dream hackers,” who try to implant an idea to help a wealthy man stay wealthy. I think this is the simplest explanation without any spoilers.

Things to Love About this Film and How it deals with Trauma, Dreams, Creation, and Destruction as Coping Mechanisms:

1. Nolan is careful to point out something that I was so happy to see: when you create worlds, it’s a very complex process. Dreaming is not easy—especially for those who are traumatized. We see that Cobb his subconscious knows, the people in the dream will look at him and they know that the world is wrong.

2. We see a lot of preparation, planning, and frustration. Unlike Sucker Punch’s Snyder, Nolan does not pretend that the dream world, or implanting an idea (inception) is easy.

3. This gives dreams a whole new weight. What we dream, whether literally in our sleep or when we are awake, consciously can lead us to a conclusion and then an idea that can ultimately change our lives.

4. We see that this is a team effort and that, even in “dreams,” we have fights and full on wars to fight. I like that a person can protect their dreams, have some sort of security—all while you’re sleeping, you can have armies defending your secrets and fears. Our dreams say so much about us…

5. The leads me to Cobb’s trauma issues with Mal (come on dude, look at her name!). Dreams, the worlds we create—projects, jobs, friendships, families (“in real life” or “in our sleep”) can be the death of us

7. Female empowerment, thank goodness: essentially the story begins and ends with women—Mal, the woman who locked away her “reality check” tool (which I thought was a cool addition, by the way) and started to confuse which world was which. Ariadne is an architect, but she soon becomes a creator of worlds; however, she learns not to put herself in them too much. We never learn a thing about her, Arthur, Eamus, or our awesome Yusuf.

8. The film’s artistry essentially taught (hopefully) people to dream and (de)construct to deal with issues.  We all have the power to create. It’s the restraints we place on ourselves, the rules.
Dream Away…

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
I really, really, really love this story of This is Where I Leave You. The
If you ever want to experience a love story, a beautiful one at that, read