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Dexter is one of my all-time favorite tv shows. The first three seasons are a masterpiece. 

I know you are probably wondering now, how can a serial killer teach you anything about living with a mental illness? Well, I am here to tell you that Dexter is actually a very good character to learn from.

If we take away what he does on the side, we can actually see how good he is at handling his mental disorder (ASPD) and life in general.

Now, I do not know what living with this disorder is like, but I do know how it feels to be different because of the darkness within. By the way, I call my illness the darkness but if you feel uncomfortable with it, just pretend I call it something else. 


Seeing how he approaches problems while having this illness, is very interesting.

I took these lessons from watching him live with little to no empathy, having different views on life from the rest of society, and being a slave to his own urges. As I said, we don’t have to suffer from the same darkness as he does to be able to relate to him.

While we might have different disorders and illnesses we are facing, we all share at least a few symptoms and understand how it feels to not have control over what having them makes you do and feel (impulsivity, anger, emptiness, depression, anxiety etc.).

If you still don’t understand why I want us to learn from him, just please bear with me, okay? I promise Dex has a few lessons you can take with you.

So, here are things Dexter taught me about living with a mental illness.

  • Accept that you are different.

You have a mental illness. You are fighting battles most people don’t know about. You will stand out and people will notice that. Just like Dexter we can sometimes play along but only for a certain period, because at the end of the day we have to accept we will not fit in. He may go to a party now and then to pretend he is just a normal guy, but people know him well enough to know that he prefers to spend alone time on his boat – and he is, to a certain extent, okay about standing out.

  • Have a moral code and live by it.

Sometimes we can be so consumed by pain that we do and say things we don’t really agree with. We can say something that hurts others. We can do things that we think are unethical. In those times it helps to have a code that we follow. So when we come to the line that tempts us to cross it, we can detain ourselves from doing it. Dexter has that code when it comes to killing – he only kills criminals – but as we are nothing like him, we can use this code for other issues we face. One of my codes is that no matter how I feel, I will not harm any animal (human or non-human). Meaning, I don’t have an excuse to buy meat or eggs, no matter how much I might be suffering or how nihilistic I might be. I have many moral codes but this is the most important one.

  • Use your illness for good.

I know this probably sounds a bit perverse but hear me out. Dexter is a serial killer, so he is a forensic analyst, specializing in blood spatter pattern analysis. I have social anxiety so I write on my blog and use social media to help me with my activism. Me and Dex are very, very different but we do what our darkness helps us be good at. Can you find a silver lining in having a mental illness? No, having it is not good but since you do have it, might as well focus on what you can get out of it beside the suffering. 

What do you think? Did I manage to not sound creepy while writing about what a serial killer taught me? He’s a fictional character so chill.

Watching Dexter is so refreshing because he is a calm person. It makes me calm too.

As I said at the beginning, the first three seasons are beyond amazing, but after that, I can hardly watch it. The fourth one has a villain whose murders I cannot watch because they make me pass out, and from the 5th one on the show just goes downhill. 

This was a bit of a different take on mental illness and how I usually write about it, but I don’t want to hide behind a curtain and pretend that I don’t like true crime. I think that having a police officer as a father pretty much gave me an interest in criminals from a young age.

Please leave a comment below if you found this post useful and if you watch Dexter, did I miss any lessons? Let me know, I would love to hear them.

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