Recently I have been anxiously rocking back and forth wondering when Teen Wolf is going to come back on the air. Despite my love and devotion for the show, I must admit that the show is pretty poorly written, especially when it comes to minority issues. And especially in recent seasons the show has been downright awful when it comes to portraying mental health and therapy. Thank God for fanfiction!
Anyone who has watched Teen Wolf can say without a doubt that Derek Hale needs therapy. It’s pretty evident almost from Episode 1. When we first meet Derek, we learn that he is one of the few survivors of a fire that killed his whole family. He, his sister Laura, and his Uncle Peter are the only ones who survived. His sister is later killed by his uncle, who is revealed to be a manipulative murderer. And we learn that Derek was sexually assaulted by his then much older girlfriend Kate—who then used him in order to burn his whole family alive. And that’s just Season 1! It is very clear that Derek needs help just to be able to live, trust people again, and move on with his life.
In our media, therapy is portrayed usually as something bad. Our list of well-known therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists include people like Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Dr. Jonathan Crane (the Scarecrow). Even Teen Wolf itself paints mental illness horribly with Eichen House, which is basically just Arkham Asylum. So it’s really nice to see a fic that addresses going to therapy and getting help for mental and emotional health as something positive and not creepy or terrifying.
Seeing Wolves (Where There Are No Wolves) takes place shortly after Season 3 of Teen Wolf and disregards Season 4. Our fic starts with Derek attending his very first therapy session and the rest shows a very realistic look at someone going through therapy and struggling to deal with trauma, sexual abuse, and panic/anxiety attacks.
“So, why are you here?” She asks conversationally.
He hadn’t considered explaining it, really.
He thinks about saying, ‘I’m an Omega and I was never meant to be alone, but it’s becoming apparent to me that I’m not supposed to have anyone in my life either,’ or ‘Peter makes me feel like I go about everything wrong and I’m scared I don’t know between right and wrong.’
He thinks about saying, ‘I’m twenty-five and my life is a shit show that is taking the form of a never-ending downward spiral,’ or ‘A bunch of teenagers have been joking about me needing therapy and I don’t know where to draw the line.’ He considers telling her, ‘I don’t remember the last time I was genuinely happy and I’m terrified that this only gets harder,’ or ‘Everything I touch is destroyed and I just don’t want to hurt anyone anymore,’ or ‘Love scares me, I can’t have any joy without guilt and I hate myself.’
He thinks, ‘I have nightmares before I even fall asleep,’ and ‘I’m passively suicidal, I feel exhausting anxiety more often than not, I have flash-backs and tremors.’ He thinks he might tell her, ‘My fourteen year old self would be so disappointed to see what I’ve become,’ or ‘I am always letting myself down and allowing the people that trust me to be hurt.’ He contemplates telling her, ‘I don’t know.’
He feels so trapped, so cornered and so stressed that he ends up saying nothing at all.
So goes his first appointment with Dr. Lundy.
This a Sterek fic, and I greatly enjoyed how this fic developed their relationship. Since Stiles is still in high school, nothing really happens between them until after Stiles graduates, which I appreciate, and I think that’s more in character for Derek (especially considering what he went through with Kate). But I love how, as Derek becomes healthier as a person, he finds he enjoys being with Stiles and opens up to Stiles more. There is no incidence of Stiles’s magical love healing Derek. He recovers with therapy and through support, not just from Stiles but from other characters as well. Stiles himself is not in therapy during the fic, though it’s clear he still suffers from an anxiety/panic disorder; however, unlike Derek, Stiles has dealt with his disorder since his mother’s death and can cope much better with it. There are a few times in the fic that Stiles still has trouble and breaks down, but in those moments he knows how to handle himself and lets other people help him.
Juxtaposing Derek and Stiles in this way was a brilliant bit of writing because it clearly shows that someone can have a disorder or even still just struggle with some emotional issues, but not necessarily have to be in therapy for the rest of their life. Stiles knows how to deal when he has panic attacks and Derek likewise eventually comes to rely less and less on his therapist.
It’s not often I say this, but in some ways, this fic really changed my life. I know it sounds corny, but I read this fic shortly after my mother’s death and my situation in life was not great. I wanted to see a therapist but I was too anxious to actually do so. Reading this fic really inspired me to get the help I needed. So check out Seeing Wolves (Where There Are No Wolves); it’s a really great fic that is worth the read.