The Brilliant Portrayal of Mental Health Struggles in The Eclipse

The Brilliant Portrayal of Mental Health Struggles in The Eclipse
Image credit: YouTube

Fans all agree that this series raises some very unconventional topics for Boys Love genre.

In most Asian countries, the topic of mental health is under-discussed or may even be taboo. It is not surprising to see the signs of mental disorders in dramas and thrillers, or coated with a thick layer of symbolism and metaphors. However, when directors deliberately put their main characters through struggles and address different disorders in a romantic show with a portion of fan service expected by such a genre, it's a bold choice and a subject that should be threaded carefully at the same time.

We've already explored how important social issues have been explored in recent romantic shows for young adults produced in Thailand and how well-received they were by the community. This time, after watching episode 9 of The Eclipse, a currently ongoing Thai BL series, fans can't help but discuss how its characters openly show depression, and panic attacks, and discuss the reasons and consequences of those.

Fans have also loudly praised the actors, mainly First Kanaphan Puitrakul (Akk) and Khaotung Thanawat Rattanakitpaisarn (Ayan), for outstanding performance portraying mental struggles, emotional outbursts, and panic attacks. Considering Khaotung has been playing mostly cute and easygoing characters before, many admired how incredibly and effectively he handled such a complicated grieving character like Ayan.

"The Eclipse is a gem of history. We have character development, important issues, social criticism, mystery, different perspectives and LGBT representations, talk about mental health. Is that one of the best series 2022." – @LizethTerricola

Depression Disorder and The Trauma of Losing Loved Ones

The main reason that Ayan, one of the main characters in The Eclipse, has transferred to Suppalo school was revealed right from the start. His uncle Dika, who was a teacher, committed suicide allegedly because of the curse that ruled over everyone in that school. Or, as Ayan thinks, because somebody in Suppalo bullied him into this. As the show progresses, we get to see Dika's diary excerpt, where he wrote about his depression disorder and previous attempts in detail. That leads to a very heartbreaking scene between Ayan and his mom, in which they discuss the effect the trauma of losing a close person has on Ayan, the need of moving on past the grief and the disorder itself.

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Psychological Pressure and Mental Exhaustion

In one of the episodes, another main character Akk is suddenly shown absent from an important class, and Ayan finds him in the school's infirmary with a fever. Despite there's seemingly no reason for this character to catch a cold, this scene subtly shows the other reason for someone to get ill – suffering from immense pressure and mental exhaustion. In the previous scene, Akk was shown having mixed feelings during his talk with the Teacher Chadok whose orders Akk always obeyed but recently started to see flaws in. After Chadok reminds Akk to behave, the viewers see him sleeping in the infirmary. It seems like the social pressure to uphold the Suppalo school's and his own reputation as the head prefect, as well as the need to keep secrets, and slowly gained knowledge of the ugly truth about the school took its toll on Akk. Fans compliment The Eclipse for putting in effort and giving a reason for Ayan to find Akk and treat him with a towel bath and gentle care, instead of putting this scene in the show just fo fan service.

"It's so interesting and unusual to see the way Akk and Ayan get sick, compared to other shows. Like it's not done out of blue or to have some cute time in the school hospital. No, The Eclipse literally shows the affect the Suppalo school and Chadok have on young teenager's mental health, and consequences under any awful environment or life event's exposure. Creators made sure Akk had a fever and needed to sleep in school right after he's been manipulated, and pressured, and torn inside." – dropthedemiurge

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Panic Attacks and Depression Treatment

3) After getting close to unveiling the secret behind his uncle's death and finding the tangible connection between Dika and one of the oppressive and authoritarian teachers, Ayan went into a full-blown panic attack in school. Many fans have praised Khaotung's fascinating and dramatic acting in this scene, confirming it was a realistic and accurate portrayal of an emotional breakdown. After being taken home instead of classes, Ayan is still visibly weak and also spots a fever. The significant amount of attention also went to show that Ayan is prescribed amitriptyline, the medicine for treating depression. All the details are openly discussed by other characters, his mother and Akk, which also shows how seriously the creators take this topic in their work.

The fans of the Eclipse interviewed the director of the series Golf Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, screenwriter Yokee Apirak Chaipanha, and the author of the original novel Prapt Chairat Pipitpattanaprap recently. They discussed where all the meaningful topics came from and why The Eclipse series is so unusually heavy for a BL show.

"The Eclipse tackles so many relevant topics though, despite being set in a high school, so many of us can relate to this series. From politics, education systems, mental health, self-discovery and acceptance! I really love this series." – @fleurfuschia

The creative team shared that the main topic they decided to choose for The Eclipse wasn't coming out in the sense of understanding one's sexual orientation or gender, but for every character to come out of their comfort zone instead, as well as explore their ideals and goals. The screenwriter and the author of the novel admitted that in the novel main characters were younger and Ayan wasn't suffering from depression as much as he does in the show.

When asked why topic of mental illness shows up in his several recent works (such as The Eclipse and The Miracle of Teddy Bear), Prapt answered his original focus wasn't on BL genre, and such topics were included because he had been writing about teenagers therefore he thought it was important to be discussed due to the current society pressure they live in.

The creative team said they were surprised and happy to know that fans all over the world could relate to the specific experience of teenagers' life in Thailand's school system which watches and controls everyone different. Golf admitted that the topics in The Eclipse are heavier and more sensitive than in the usual BL series and they didn't expect so many viewers to be so dedicated to analyzing the characters and the scenes. They supposed the messages they wanted to tell were universal and this might be why viewers all over the world could understand and empathize with the characters' inner struggles.

"P'yokee said they werent expecting such a great feedback from fans all around the world but how could they not? the eclipse is different from every series thats ever been produced. it deals with sensitive topics, it's brave and provocative, it's a metaphor for ppl's cry for help." – @mixpawat