Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mental Illness

Buffy and her crew. Image credit: Mutant Enemy Productions.

As far as a support system is concerned, Buffy does have some awesome friends but ultimately they don’t understand her. They support her, and they try everything they can to help her but they are always on the fringes of understanding the burden of being a vampire slayer, and that’s okay. In our own lives we have friends that don’t get it, and likely never will. That’s not their fault, and it’s not Willow’s or Xander’s or Tara’s or whoever’s fault either. Their lack of comprehension of the feelings and complexities involved with being the slayer aren’t there to further Buffy’s character arc. Buffy’s friends are dealing with their own problems—Willow has an untapped power inside of her that she is learning to control, Xander feels emasculated next to his powerful female buddies, and Giles is coming to terms with the fact that he may no longer be needed. Yet, my heart broke for Buffy who was constantly assumed to be emotionally stronger and more mature than she was, just because she was the slayer. Even upon meeting Faith, another slayer, she felt disconnected because Faith was swimming in her own issues and refused to let anyone in. Instead she put on the face of someone brave and tricked everyone into believing she was fine. This, in turn, hurt Buffy even more because it made her feel weak in comparison.

But that is simply not the case. Everyone has their own world inside their head, and everyone has a part of themselves that tries to get to your vulnerabilities and bring you down. The juxtaposition of Buffy and Faith and their respective ways of coping with life reminded me of this, and helped me realise even putting on a ‘fake’ brave face is still a show of bravery.

As Buffy Summers said, “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

Remember, your mental illness does not define you. Slay on, slayers.

4 thoughts on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mental Illness

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  2. sam

    i so identified with this. in high school, buffy helped me through my mom and stepdad’s divorce and the subsequent crumbling of my world because i could relate to her trying to balance being a teenager with a whole other world of scary responsibilities. for me, it was taking care of my depressed mom and younger siblings; for her, it was defending the world from the apocalypse. these things seem comparable with you’re 16.
    what i admired most about her was the fact that she was, physically, magically powerful, but emotionally still a teenager who questioned why she had to do this shit. that episode where she has a talk with giles at the end about how the world kind of sucks and her life is unfairly difficult (pretty vague i know–i wish i could remember). that made a huge impression on me. she could kick ass and still complain without being weak. she loses her virginity and her bf turns into a soulless demon and she still does what she has to do, but not without admitting that it really fucking sucks. at a time in my life when people kept telling me things were going to get better, it was refreshing to see someone else be fed up with how things are without giving up. you don’t have to be pollyanna to be a hero. you can be jaded as hell and still save the day.

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