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Mental health and “The Shattered Podcast”

SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT HEARD EPISODE 13!

Dr Phil Donan tells us at the conclusion of The Shattered Podcast that Nemo (Heather Brown) had a nervous breakdown and walked out of her friend Alicja’s apartment in Porte de Versailles, Paris, and disappeared. What happened to Nemo? Did she return to her ex-boyfriend, despite his denials of this to the police? Did she forge a new identity for herself? Did she fall victim to a tragic accident?

Let me (as the writer) assure you that Nemo is fine and is on new adventures (whether these new adventures will ever be dramatized is unknown). However, I want to make a point about the distinction between issues of mental health as a plot device and how they may affect real people. When I wrote the script in 2018, I was more familiar with the conceptualization of “madness” (that rather 19th century term, which Christine in Shattered uses to characterize the events of the night of Faust when Erik induced her to turn the grasshopper or the scorpion) as a plot device. Nemo’s obsession with the mystery of Shattered shifts to her undoing as she is haunted by the “ghost in the machine,” Erik’s vengeful spirit manifest through his recordings, and the pursuing, otherworldly figure of the (seemingly immortal) Shade. What her experiences of anxiety, depression, and grief were before this point are conjecture, though given the loss of her brother Patrick, she is unlikely to have been untouched by these emotions.

I wrote this script and recorded the drama before I was myself familiar with the loss of someone very close to me. I had also managed to avoid long-term, acute issues with my own mental health. On the other side of Shattered‘s release, however, I am a different person. Experience changes us, and of course we cannot grow without living. Living implies loss and making mistakes. It goes without saying that the writer I am today would have approached the writing of Shattered in a different way in 2022 than I did four years ago.

Nemo is meant as a figure of identification. She is our protagonist; if I’ve done a decent job as the writer, you as the listener should care about her at least a little. If, however, you find the things she goes through to touch a chord or bring up unwanted or uncomfortable feelings, please know that you don’t have to suffer in silence. Phil, blundering though he may have been, was on the right track in suggesting that Nemo accept help rather than taking the solitary, if self-controlled, road.

Thank you for listening and take good care.


Mental health resources

In the UK

Samaritans

Shout Crisis Text Line

In the United States

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Crisis Text Line

In Canada

Talk Suicide Canada

Wellness Together Canada

In Australia

Lifeline

SANE Australia Helpline

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