Monday, April 24, 2017

Welcome to the NHK is the only work of art that captures how I feel, and what I am - Otaku Thoughts #56

I hate it when people say something along the lines of "There are other people like you."
It feels so forced, and it seems like just a wishy-washy, half-hearted statement from people with more fulfilling lives with nothing better to tell you, because they don't and never will understand who you are nor how you feel. Whether they realize it or not, they are looking down on you, because if telling someone "There are other people like you" or "It's okay to be how you are" or "It's normal to have those feelings", but leave it at that and do nothing more to truly help, then they don't give two shits about you.
I don't ask to be pitied, I only want to point out how much it feels like there really isn't anyone else like me out there:
I've been a chronic truant in school with such social anxiety that I couldn't hang out with any of the (very few) kids who wanted to hang out with me, since the 6th grade.
My therapist has told me, after being shown my school attendance records, that he's "never seen anything like this". That I had the absolute worst school attendance he'd ever seen, besides kids who had dropped out.
People talking about me behind my back apparently isn't even only in my head; I remember a "friend" telling me that people, whenever I wasn't in the classroom, would say how weird I was for never talking, being so quiet.
I've been sent to a mental hospital twice, in the school refusal/social anxiety program... and I was the only one in the program that couldn't connect with others. I was the only one that would still sit by myself, while all the other apparently socially anxious kids chatted away with one another, shared Facebooks (even though that was forbidden to exchange contact info), and generally became friends with one another.
I have had my driving permit for almost a year (it's nearly expired), and despite my parents pushing me to get my license, I'm far too afraid to take the driving test; not for the driving aspect, but because of the social aspect of being tested, alone in a car with a person I don't even know.
I've been on more depression and anxiety meds than I can count, and over the years I've been on them, I've only gotten worse; I've only stood cooped up in my room more, depressed and thinking to myself how much I want to die, and how much I hate the world.

So, what does this have to do with Welcome to the NHK's original novel, which I'm currently reading, as well as its anime?

NHK isn't justification to stay how I am forever; no, it's quite the opposite, and shows how shitty a kind of life like this is, and that it cannot stay like this forever.
But, in a weird way, it is sort of comforting seeing Sato, the main character, in a situation similar to my own-- well, actually, probably worse than my own, dropping out of college and not having any real human interaction for nearly a year; not only that, but he's been a reclusive college dropout who does nothing but stay in his littered room, for four whole years, lying to his parents that he's still in college so that they can continue to support him by paying his small six-mat apartment's rent.

I've never seen a character as much of a failure as I am, except for Sato. Tomoya Okazaki from Clannad comes close, but it isn't specific if he has social anxiety, or how much school he misses (he went to school at 12PM every day that he didn't skip until the start of the story though, according to the visual novel), but Sato is clearly screwed up, with the same anxiety symptoms as me.
While his situation is college-- at least he passed high school, although despite how bad I am, I will pass high school, even if I have to retake this year-- it can still be compared to my life, and my gosh, is it relieving to think that even a fictional character was fathomed to be actually worse than me. I'm not the lowest of the low, after all-- even though Sato is fictitious, I'm just happy that someone put this kind of character to paper and acknowledges that pieces of shit like me exist.
The other thing is-- Welcome to the NHK has some hint of reality to it, because the author himself was, and still is apparently, a hikkikomori NEET. While it is on the other side of the globe, there are at least 2 million hikkikomori recluses living in Japan, with severe social anxiety who never leave their rooms. Sure, in America, it is known far and wide that there are tons of people with social anxiety, but they seem different. They don't seem as bad as me, because they can actually suck it up and overcome their struggles and make friends-- at least, all of the people I've encountered with supposed "social anxiety" have been able to do all of this.
But in Japan, people just like me, are out there. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but again... it's oddly comforting.

Maybe this is what ethnic and sexual minorities feel like when they want to be represented in media. I guess I can kind of understand. Welcome to the NHK is not only incredibly well written, but it's about the only piece of media I've ever seen that has so articulately encapsulated the kind of social anxiety and utter depression that I have. Some people might think that NHK takes it to an unrealistic degree, but I implore you that that is simply not true, because I am a living embodiment of it-- well, Sato is what I will likely become if I don't change my ways, anyway, as is the novel's overall moral.
Unfortunately, although that may be the story's moral, or 'theme', even the author himself had no real answer how to 'fix' oneself's hikkikomori ways, other than having a cute girl come into your life and help you out. And reality is cruel; there is no Misaki to help worthless trash out of this garbage bin that is my current rut of an anxious life. But even the novel doesn't paint Misaki as some sort of saint, and although she was a help to Sato, she wasn't the solution.

In the end, the only thing that somewhat solves Sato's reclusive lifestyle, was having it completely ripped out from under him. In the end, his parents couldn't provide for him anymore. They stop paying for his apartment, so it's either go get a job, or die on the streets.
It's a cold, hard message that hits incredibly hard. It tells you that there is no happy solution to a miserable life of severe depression and social anxiety. You just have to crawl forward and barely strive from minute paycheck to paycheck, and hope that one day, you'll find happiness.
Thankfully, Sato now has two genuine friends he can count on: Misaki and Yamazaki. I have my family and one good friend. Perhaps I can count on them. And maybe, I can count on myself, and prove to this world that yes, pieces of shit like me exist, and yes, even I can become somebody worth living.

Actually, he's the character I can relate to more than any other.
I fucking exist.


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