it was a lot more than a hug: an (unintentional) short essay on mental health & steven worm
I LOVED THE HUG OKAY.
I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “uGh thE eNdiNG sUcKEd geTtiNg a hUG doEsN’T sOLvE aLL yOuR pRoBLeMs”. but in my opinion, that’s exactly the point.
All throughout the second half of SUF, they’re trying to show us that there is no one way to feel immediately better and have all of your problems solved. He goes to pretty much every source he can. The gems aren’t necessarily seeing what he’s going through, Connie isn’t going to solve this for him, his Dad is helping in an unhelpful way, so he goes to Jasper and that went haywire, so he goes to the diamonds and they just make it worse. And then what is he supposed to do?
Every single time Steven goes to a person to “help” him, he’s going to them seeking help in order to fix it. and there’s a big difference between the two.
I have anxiety, depression, and OCD, and often when I’m panicking or having moments of high anxiety, I do what Steven did: I seek out people not to help me, but to fix it for me. I then react the same way Steven did - with anger - when people try to help instead of just fixing it.
Anxiety, depression, panic, none of those things can be completely and magically cured and rid of in the snap of a finger. But in the moment, for people like me, for a person like Steven, the thought of that feeling not being entirely solveable is petrifying.
It’s like if someone is drowning and splashing around: you can’t get the life ring around them because of how much movement and commotion they’re creating. But they’re drowning, so you can’t just tell them “Hey, stop moving so I can help you!” From your perspective, you’re trying to help them by encouraging them to do something that will in turn allow you to help them. But to that person, if they stop flailing, they’re going to sink even further, and that is terrifying, so much so that they can’t even consider that you might be wanting to help them. All they can process is that you told them to stop doing the one thing that they don’t want to do: sink. Even if they’re sinking just for a moment, before you save them, that doesn’t matter. That feeling of sinking is terrifying, so they end up splashing around more.
When Steven seems to be babbling on, almost comedically, in “Everything is Fine”, trying to convince himself he’s fine, he’s gotten to a stage that I was in for a while, a sort of mania, where he is not only attempting to convince everyone around him that he’s fine, he has convinced himself that he is fine. This is a huge red flag for people with bipolar disorder or manic depression (NOT diagnosing Steven, I am not a professional, I’ve just experienced many of these things and been surrounded by people experiencing these things and professionals explaining them to me. Like I said, I was in the hospital for this, so). Everyone around him starts to see that he is, in fact, not fine, as they’ve already surmised. But the physical consequences of them not doing anything, not doing enough, are starting to manifest.
When he morphs into the Steven Worm, he has lost his sense of self. He doesn’t know what to do with himself, he can’t exist within himself with the world he’s created. He didn’t tell the Gems about the hospital, he didn’t tell his dad he was angry, he didn’t actually tell Connie he needed her he just proposed. He doesn’t know what to DO with all of this. So it explodes around him.
He can’t control his feelings, himself anymore. He feels he’s lost control. For me, a human, this morphs into a panic attack. But for him, he’s a gem, he turns into Steven Worm.
Not even the diamonds, the most powerful beings in the entire Gem universe, are incapable of changing him. His emotions bring White Diamond to her knees. But what they’re doing wrong here is they’re trying to fix him!
When Connie bolts in on Lion and is making her (iconic) rallying cry, she never says they need to fix Steven or heal him; she says they need to help him. Because that’s the only way he can get better.
When you go to the psychiatric hospital, you don’t go to get fixed. You’re in an environment where you’re made so you’re not a physical danger to yourself, and then you do a shit ton of work. You have therapy multiple times a day, every day, all week. You do work, they don’t just fix it for you. And this is the solution that we need to see portrayed. This is the solution they did portray in SUF.
Mental health disorders can’t be fixed. And Steven’s problems weren’t solved with a hug.
But we needed to see the hug. Because Steven needed to see the hug.
The hug wasn’t just about hugging him. It was about literally forcing him to come face-to-face with the love and support he had been inadvertenly, and then intentionally, pushing away. It forced him to say, “Okay, this is who I am right now. And these people love me.”
I had to have the people in my life tell me over and over that they loved me when I went to the hospital. I had to have my doctors tell me that they cared for me, my therapist tell me that I wasn’t talking too much, because I didn’t believe them. I had convinced myself I wasn’t worthy, I was a fraud, just like Steven. Sometimes you need that love in your face, surrounding you so that it is the only thing you can see, for you to be able to let it in.
The hug didn’t fix everything! That’s the big thing. The hug was a pure, beautiful moment, but I don’t believe it was meant to be a plot device to try to fix everything. Everyone was still emotional, he still destroyed things, he scared people, he scared himself. That wasn’t all magically fixed because of the hug. But his resolve to do the work, get help, and accept what happened to him - that is what made him go from Worm Steven to Boy Steven.
And afterward, we seen Steven has grown. He hasn’t morphed, his hair hasn’t changed, he’s not pink. But he’s grown mentally. He’s communicating more making plans, his disposition has changed.
Previously on this post, I said" I don’t like that they called what he had a meltdown (again, I vouch that it was a gem version of a panic attack)" However, I learned that this is actually a really good term to describe what Steven experienced, and as a person in my ask box (@a2Ieep) noted, could be relevant to the headcanon/idea that Steven is autistic, or at least autistic-coded, as well as his PTSD or cPTSD. None of us can diagnose Steven but that also means I shouldn't just pass off terminology like that! I realized it gave people who self-identify as autistic, the same feelings it gave me as I struggle with panic and anxiety. While we surmise different meanings from the meltdown, it was a meltdown. We all feel so touched by it, and Steven's meltdown felf like a panic attack to me, that doesn't mean it isn't a meltdown, and that it can't be meaningful to someone else with autism or PTSD. Steven's meltdown is just as meaningful to someone who has autism or PTSD, as it is to me with panic attacks. Erasure of someone else's feelings on my part was not okay, regardless of my intent or my own strength of different feelings. Plus, it was his choice to use that term. I just want to make it clear that at first I didn't like the term, but it is actually a really important term to use. I didn't expect the post to blow up like this, so I wanted to make this edit known and seen as it's a really important of this post. Thank you to everyone for understanding! And thank you to @tentacrocacles @transtistic @satoshigekk0uga @mercurialmeditator @possumpiebruh and @a2leep for sharing their feelings ans thoughts with me, which helped me to realize this and investigate and alter my own sentiments!
but YALL STEVEN HAS A THERAPIST NOW! He’s is not only getting the help that he needs, he is showing that he is going to continue needing this help, and that’s okay! He’s making plans to visit people, to go see the world, on his own terms!
He’s scared and sad of leaving the gems, and it’s also time to leave the gems. It’s time to move on, and be a new Steven.
We’ve seen a lot of Stevens the past few weeks. But Steven driving off past the Big Donut into the night was my favorite Steven. That was vulnerable Steven. That was Steven doing the work to be himself, to exist with his feelings and the ways he had acted, and the things he had gone through. That was my boy. Steven Universe.
When I saw my mom for the first time while I was in the hospital, the first thing she did was give me a big hug (I was a blubbering mess, of course). But it wasn’t just that my mom was giving me a hug. She was telling me she was there for me, she loved me, she was telling me she would stay up on the phone with me as long as the doctors would let me, she would drive 3 1/2 hours from our home in Michigan to the hospital in Ohio at a moments notice (I went to school in Ohio and went to the hospital there too before coming home). That hug was her forcing me to see that she was there for me, even if I didn’t believe it, or didn’t want to believe it.
So yeah, Steven got a hug. But it was a lot more than a hug, okay? Take my word for it
13K notes · View notes