Bella swan depression (+3 things we learn)

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In this blog we will discuss how the character of bella swan represents depression in the Twilight series. 

Bella Swan: Depression representation

Depression in New moon, the second book of the Twilight series, has been beautifully portrayed through the experience of Bella Swan post her breakup with Edward. 

Most of how Bella Swan, the protagonist of the book and movie of the same name, deals with the break up accurately portrayed grief and bereavement of a loss as well as depression following this loss. 

When Edward breaks up with Bella at the start of the book or the movie, we notice that she has been heavily impacted as the breakup has come as a shock and the break up, in her own experience, feels like death. 

We notice that the way she portrays her grief and depression is numbness- she is unable to feel happy nor sad following the shock of the loss of her relationship and her future with Edward. 

We also notice various other symptoms along with apathy. We watch Bella appear lifeless and listless as she stares out of her window for long periods of time and we watch the season change as well. 

This portrayal of her watching her life and friends pass her by is one that represents the painful detachment that people with depression experience when they are in a depressive episode. 

One is unable to engage with life nor with loved ones instead they remain unmotivated and detached from what is going around in life, simile letting life go by and doing only what is absolutely necessary for survival. 

Another symptom that Bella begins to show is insomnia, she has trouble falling asleep and remaining asleep as her seal is distrubed by dreams and nightmares which becomes a recurring thing considering that her father is always close by ready to go comfort her when her sleep breaks. 

We also watch Bella Swan become socially isolated and withdraw from her friends as she begins to eat lunch alone, she does not spend time with her friends nor with anyone else. This is a hallmark of symptoms of depression as well as with other mental illnesses.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

For Bella the experience of the break up is so extensive that she is unable to engage with her social relationships and tend to them because the pain is so overbearing that she has no emotional room for anything else. 

Over time, we also observe reckless behaviours and life threatening behaviours from Bella as she begins to seek out her adrenaline fix by doing dangerous things just so that she can feel something again. 

People with depression often seek to self medicate with alcohol and drugs so as to feel something or to feel none of the pain they are dealing with. This is also observed in the experiences of Bella Swan as she begins to learn how to ride a bike and even goes to the extent of jumping off a cliff. 

Her poor choice of doing reckless things is also observed in some people with depression who seek out distractions and experiences so that they feel something other than numbness. 

One could even say that what Bella does by jumping off a cliff is something akin to suicidal behaviour which is often observed in people who are depressed. 

Another aspect of living with depression that is portrayed in the book and movie is how Bella’s family seeks help from professionals, even encircling her to get medical support; however, most of what Bella does is to resist and instead pretend to be fine. 

Here, we observe that she is resistant as well as in denial over the fact that she is clearly depressed. The portrayal of depression in the life and experiences of Bella Swan after her break up with Edward is quite accurate as her inner experiences are very similar to what other people with depression also struggle with. 

What is depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia. 
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

Depression symptoms also include extremely low mood and fatigue and is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness which can lead to suicidal ideation and even attempts. 

Depression related symptoms such as inability to focus, lack of energy, and hopelessness can impact a person’s ability to work and meet the demands of their daily lives. 

People with depression often struggle with low self esteem and self worth which can cause them to negatively assess themselves. They may fear rejection and abandonment from other people which may cause them to isolate themselves in a bid to protect themselves.

This social withdrawal can make it difficult for them to maintain social commitments and relationships as they might choose to push people away especially when they do not have the skills to communicate and manage their emotions and thoughts. 

While these are some of the ways depression impacts a person, the disorder itself can cause the quality of life of people who have it to drastically decrease and in extreme cases, if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to suicide attempts and death. 

How to cope and manage if you have depression?

Here are a few things you can do to cope with depression:

Seek professional help

If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field. 

There may be different medications- some which might work for you while others that might not help you. 

Taking time to find a doctor who can help you with estimating the right dosage of medication and the right medical treatment can make the quality of your journey to recovery drastically different. 

Reduce stress

If it’s a job that is causing you immense stress, maybe it is time to consider taking a leave of absence. Or it could be your own family environment that is causing your symptoms to flare up- consider moving out if your financial situation persists. 

The intent here is to reduce or remove the things in your life that add stress. If it is a certain relationship, taking the time to set boundaries or communicate that you are taking time out can be one way. 

By reducing stressors, the thought of waking up and facing your day may seem a little less daunting, you might even look forward to it. 

Learn and apply coping skills

If you are depressed, you can learn coping skills and techniques and apply them at least once a day when experiencing depression. 

This can be learning how to tackle your anxieties and negative moods by regulating your breathing and engaging in deep breathing techniques. 

You can also try grounding techniques to help you cope with spiralling down a negative rumination. Make goals for each day and let your goals be small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, 

Make plans for your day that suit your pace- if today is especially difficult, make a step by step plan from your bed to the bathroom in the mornings. Reward yourself when you succeed and be kind when you slip up. Remind yourself that you are learning. 

Exercise

Engaging in exercise, even if it is only a 15 minute stretch can be a wonderful step towards loving yourself and caring for yourself. 

You can opt for joining the gym however, if this is too much you can consider yoga or pilates that you can start gradually; you can also go for walks or runs alone or with your loved ones. 

Getting out of your house and doing something that allows you to get your blood pumping in itself can be a great way of self care. 

Eat a healthy diet

Diet is an important aspect of overall health and is an important component of maintaining a positive state of mental health. 

There has been plenty of research studies that have been linked to what we eat and higher risks of depression. Research finds that well balanced meals with adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, grain, and healthy fats are related to lower risks of depression.

Sleep well

Take time to improve your sleep hygiene. Research has found that sleep disorders are also a core symptom of depression. Irregular sleep and not enough sleep can make your healing process difficult and can even heighten the risk of relapse. 

Some of the things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene are

  • Avoid substances that impact your sleep, this includes caffeine. 
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid heavy dinners
  • Change your sleeping environment to be more soothing and sleep inducing. 
  • Make changes in your pre-sleep routine such as taking relaxing baths before sleep, avoiding gadgets two hours before sleeping time.

Connect with loved ones

Reaching out to people who love you and letting them know that you are having a hard time now, can bring you closer to people who truly love and care for you.

These are positive relationships we want and need around you as you begin your journey to recovery. Positive relationships help you discover joys and meaning to your life. 

Make plans to meet them for lunch, or go for a walk with them. Make sure you make clear what you can and cannot do and agree on something that both you and them can enjoy. 

You can also take the step to connect with other people who are coping with depression through group therapy or support groups.

Oftentimes, listening to other people’s successes can instil hope, it also gives you the opportunity to learn new perspectives of living and life along with new techniques to cope.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed how the character of bella swan represents depression in the Twilight series. 

References

Julia Norton. How Bella in ‘New Moon’ Perfectly Explains the Different Stages of My Depression. The Mighty. Retrieved on 29th April 2022. https://themighty.com/2018/07/bella-new-moon-depression-stages/

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