Waiting to Be 'Saved' from Depression
Can you be saved from depression? Many mainstream films and TV shows about mental health push the concept of the "savior" figure. A character suffering from mental illness meets another character and, through their relationship -- often romantic in nature -- comes to find recovery and health, or at least a happy medium. While certain relationships can help enhance our personal wellbeing, we should be careful when evaluating them for signs that we are falling for the myth of the savior figure. Being saved from depression is a myth.
Why We Fantasize of Being Saved from Depression
It's hard to deny that depression is romanticized to some extent. It is romanticized not only in the entertainment we consume, but in the mythos, we build around historical and celebrity figures with depression.
This romanticized narrative we construct often involves a savior figure because a savior figure fits mental illness into a story. It gives mental illness -- which is without order or sense -- a plot. In other words, it sharpens the edges of an otherwise nebulous sort of condition.
For those of us suffering from depression, this narrative also gives us hope. Taking those early steps to address our own mental illness can feel impossible while waiting for someone to address it for us seems easy enough to do. At the very least, it makes for a better story.
The Dangers of Waiting to Be Saved from Depression
Relying completely on another person to rescue us from the depths of mental illness makes for shallow, weak relationships. The relationship may not feel shallow or weak in the moment because of its intensity, but the superficiality of it will reveal itself over time as the relationship falls apart. And it will fall apart because it has no foundation. It is not founded on mutual respect, shared interests, chemistry, or any of the other components of a true relationship, and is instead founded on co-dependence and melodrama.
These relationships also breed resentment. Because it is not actually possible to "save" someone from depression, the depressed person may resent the other for failing. And the other may resent the depressed person for making them feel more like a caregiver than a partner or friend.
The ultimate danger, though, is in leaving the mental illness untreated. Because relying on a savior figure essentially prolongs the amount of time we are continuing to live with untreated depression, it risks the worsening of existing symptoms and the development of new symptoms, and even of co-morbid mental illnesses.
A healthy relationship helps us see the value strength in ourselves and, in doing so, encourages us to take responsibility for our mental health. A relationship based on the "savior" myth keeps us stuck in our sickness, turning depression into a bonding agent between us and the other person that can never be let go without also letting go of the relationship. Even though those initial steps are more difficult, finding our own path to mental health will lead to the type of meaningful relationships that we can draw true strength from.
Have you ever tried to be "saved" from your depression? How did it turn out? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Chang, K. (2019, November 7). Waiting to Be 'Saved' from Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2019/11/waiting-to-be-saved-from-depression