It’s been a healthy topic of discussion in the wake of all the tragedies: mental illness and its role as the cause of gun violence. My stance on gun control has been well covered here in prior posts, and depression is something I discuss often from both a personal and broad subject point. Suffice to say: depression and other mental illness does not shape or predetermine the “kind of person” you are, or the way you behave. Depression does not remove individuality, nor does it remove choice from the equation.
Depression is an illness. As with a fever some people take medicine, vitamins and rest up, other people force themselves to work through and sweat it out. People behave and act towards the world in a number of different ways in the face of that struggle, just as the people without depression do. It’s this idea that is at the core of my current novel project, the fantasy story The Book of Resurrection.
In the case of this story, I’m showing two sides of depression- two kinds of people that battle it. On the one side is Lady Inqu, the villain of the story. On the other is Samuel Frost. Lady Inqu believes she was born from the fantastic event that originally killed Samuel, and believes she is a goddess. She also does not feel anything. Inqu believes this is a position of invincibility, and that its reflective of her superiority.
Inqu’s villainy and antagonism of Samuel is largely driven by her belief that she should be unmovable, unaffected and above these human “fires.” So she develops a sadistic obsession with Samuel Frost who spurs a feeling in her- any kind of feeling. I leave it up to the reader what that feeling might be- fear, admiration, love- but she’s astonished that he could do that to her.
Inqu antagonizes him both in intrigue of his causing that, and partly wanting to see if he can do it again. On the other side of her coin, Inqu is acting out of fear of feeling. She fears that feeling anything makes her less than the goddess she is convinced she is- fear that being able to feel means that she can be hurt or even destroyed.
Meanwhile, Samuel who has come back from 7 years in the afterlife to try to “save the world” is overwhelmed by the battle being far more complex than he originally assumed and finding a world that is far less welcoming to him and his mission than he ever hoped. Samuel carries on the fight in obligatory fashion, to an extent he’s running the motions hoping to die- just filling his role until someone else might step up.
It’s as clear a parallel to my own struggles and feelings as I can put on the page in such a fantastic allegory. On my best days, I believe in the good that come from the things I do, the way I treat people, the work I get done- but there are plenty days where I feel like the world doesn’t want me or anything I can do for it, and those days I’ll admit- I’m running the motions waiting to die thanks to my depression.
Samuel suffers through that, and finds the fire to fight again, but it takes time and genuine inspiration and support from his friends he finds- it takes their faith in him, and him finding faith in them as well.
Both hero and villain are metaphors for depression, both of them are acting with regards to feelings and people around them that are trying to breach the wall of their illness that makes them numb or pained by the outside world and trying to interact with it.
Both hero an villain are fighting and acting for what they personally believe, and what they aspire to be. Both battle depression in their own ways, and both have the very same potential to be the hero of their respective story.