Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting people all over the world. Whether in social situations or not, it can leave a person feeling worthless and paralysed. A superhero that’s needed to fight anxiety everyday is Jessica Cruz. As Earth’s first female Green Lantern, Jessica has a big role to fill, but her anxiety has made it difficult to fight crime. Her mental health struggles have been presented in an authentic way and I believe Jessica is a role model for people who suffer with anxiety.
Living with fear
Jessica’s anxiety manifested during a hunting trip with her friends. They came across two men who were burying a body and her friends were murdered in the process. Jessica managed to escape, but the incident traumatised her so much that she didn’t leave her apartment for four years. All that changed when she was found by the Ring of Volthoom, a device that fed off fear. The ring took control of Jessica, subjecting her to physical and psychological torture. After Batman encouraged her to face her fears, Jessica was able to regain control and she was chosen to be a Green Lantern.
Green Lanterns are picked for their ability to overcome great fear, which makes Jessica’s recruitment so important. Her fear is magnified by anxiety. Jessica’s disorder is so debilitating that she’s found it hard to get out of bed or answer the phone. She’s constantly questioned her self-worth and believed that she’s not good enough to be a superhero. This happened during a battle with the Red Lanterns, with Jessica thinking of herself as a failure. Her anxiety physically crippled her at the worst possible time.
Jessica has used coping techniques to deal with her mental illness. Some people are afraid of talking about their anxiety, but she’s chosen to be open about it. She’s done breathing exercises to try and alleviate the physical symptoms, which include heart palpations, chest pain and panic attacks. Jessica has also created a steady routine for herself, such as exercising and cleaning with her sister. The physical activities have helped Jessica get out of her own head, a coping mechanism that’s helped other sufferers.
An authentic look at anxiety
Even with all her strategies, Jessica’s anxiety has continued to bother her. This is a realistic approach because anxiety isn’t something that can be defeated overnight. It’s irrational, making a small task seem impossible to overcome. Jessica has been able to stand up to world-ending odds and other times she’s struggled to get up in the morning. Anxiety isn’t meant to be glamorous. It’s ugly and terrifying, which is why Jessica is so relatable. Her ability to overcome fear and then be consumed by it again is a reflection of what many anxiety sufferers go through.
Having the right support network is crucial for dealing with the disorder. Jessica’s friendship with Simon Baz is a wonderful dynamic because he’s never expected her to explain herself. Baz might not always understand Jessica’s anxiety, but he’s never stopped believing in her. The same can be said for Jessica’s sister, Sara, who loves her unconditionally.
Having suffered from social anxiety since my teenage years, I relate to Jessica. I believe her story is full of hope, a tale of connecting with the right people. As a Green Lantern, she’s the embodiment of willpower and that is fucking amazing. If Jessica can fight monsters, then I know I can push through my self-doubt and live the kind of life that I want.
When it comes to dealing with mental health issues, I think comics are inspiring. Feel free to check out this article about why I think comics can improve mental health.