'The Virgin Suicides' Depicts Depression Surprisingly Well

'The Virgin Suicides' Depicts Depression Surprisingly Well

Suicide is never discussed until it's too late.
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As a P=psychology major and mental health advocate, it's only natural that I take interest in my Abnormal Psychology class. I absolutely LOVE learning about all types of disorders — from substance use to schizophrenia, and even depression.

Our most recent assignment was a movie critique. It was to analyze how mental health is depicted in movies. We were to identify when and if Hollywood distorts mental illness to their advantage. Of course, there are disorders (such as schizophrenia) that are weaved into the identities of some characters in order to boost horror movie sales and such; however, I believe that "The Virgin Suicides" did a good job depicting depression.

For those that haven't seen the movie, here's a summary. The first 15 minutes of the movie shows the aftermath of the attempted suicide of a 13-year-old girl. The neighborhood is buzzing with rumors and opinions. The young girl's caregiver suggests that her extremely strict, old-fashioned parents allow her to have friends of the opposite sex. In response, her family throws a party for her. During the party, she asks to be excused. A loud noise is heard and her lifeless body is found on the front lawn. Afterward, the movie follows her four sisters and parents in the aftermath of her suicide. It ends with all four of her sisters committing suicide on the same night.

There is not much of a backstory regarding the youngest girl's suicide. We see her wrists bandaged up and her attempts to hide them with bracelets, but that's the only physical evidence of her previous attempts. Her depression is very well-depicted, as she is very withdrawn from her peers and doesn't seem to respond to anyone at the party. Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, is represented as she cannot seem to have fun at her own party. This kind of behavior is abnormal for a young girl. It causes social and functional impairment — depicting the correct diagnosis and accuracy of the disorder.

Depression is seen most clearly in the middle sister, Lux. Following her sister's suicide, she begins to rebel. She turns to unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to deal with the grief. This often happens in those with depression, as it's seen simultaneously with substance use disorder. Lux is only 14 and chain-smokes cigarettes in many scenes. S starts smoking marijuana and trying to convince her sisters to join her. At a school dance, she drinks alcohol that was smuggled into the event; this risk-taking behavior is often a sign of depression, as well.

The other sisters are much more subtle. They seem to become emotionless. Their parents isolate them from the dangers of the outside world by taking them out of school and not allowing them to leave the house. Social capital is extremely important for mental health, and when taken away, it can have a detrimental effect on humans. Unfortunately, this led to the girls' suicides in an attempt to escape their own minds.

There's a quote that reads, "Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem." Though it is a very uncomfortable subject to talk about, it's a scary reality. Mental health is seen to be taboo throughout the movie — the neighbors keep making up rumors and calling the girls "kooks" when they really just needed some help. "The Virgin Suicides" did not use Hollywood to make money, but to show the backstory of these depressed girls' lives.

Cover Image Credit: The Dissolve

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When You're With The Right Guy, He'll Take The Time To Learn About Your Mental Illness, Trust Me

If he wants to make it work and really loves you, he'll learn all of your ins and outs.

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over a year. The journey we've been on to get to where we are now has been one of the scariest and most fun roller coasters I've ever been on.

My mental health has come in the way of a lot of relationships, both romantic and platonic. I've never quite been able to find a way to master explaining it to people. And I still haven't. Explaining what can happen in your head, when you can barely explain it to yourself is a very difficult and often heart wrenching task.

When I had started dating my boyfriend, I was scared to tell him about my mental health. While I have gained a lot of confidence and it isn't nearly as severe as it was years ago, I know how it can get when "one of those days" comes. I know how scary I can get when I fall into a panic attack. I know how hard it can be to look at someone you love while they have a tear stained face unable to tell you what's wrong.

In the past I've tried two different things. One being that I wouldn't tell them at all and I would try to go day by day like I didn't have this cloud above my head. Once they'd see what I can get like, they'd leave. They "couldn't handle the amount of work I needed" or they felt burdened by being with me. Some would even say they "love me too much to put themselves through seeing me like that."

The other option I tried was putting it all out on the table. I had tried that once. I had told my most recent ex boyfriend everything. I laid it all out on the line, hoping that it would be different. At first, it was. He was comforting and understanding. Until it got to a point where he was using what I told him against me.

He knew my weak points. He knew what would hit the hardest and he was good at what he was doing.

It wasn't until my current boyfriend that I realized that isn't how love should be.

He could tell from the beginning that there were missing puzzle pieces. There were walls that I had build around me that I wasn't about to let just anyone knock down. At first, I found his pestering quite rude. Until he proved his point. He had come to me one night and said he wanted me to tell him everything. No details left behind.

I kind of sat there with my mouth open. I actually tried to pretend as if I didn't know what he was talking about. Within minutes, I was spilling everything. Every crevice I could have touched base on, I did. While I thought he was going to look shocked, scared, or bored even.

He didn't.

He was looking deep into my eyes the whole time. He never broke eye contact with me. He was focused and didn't say anything, just nodded his head. After I was finished and the tears were falling, he held me in an embrace and the only words he could mutter was, "You are so beautiful and one of the strongest people I know. You will get stronger. I promise."

He's taken the time to learn everything. He's watched psychologist's lectures, he's read articles. He's done everything in his power to learn what I need on my dark times. He honestly has gotten to know me so well, I think he knows me better than I know myself.

Not only has it helped our relationship as a whole, but it's helped me learn about myself in a way that I couldn't quite do on my own. He's offered me a kind of love that I've never had before. One where I don't have to fear rejection or getting left behind.

Ladies, if he's the right guy, he'll do whatever it takes to make sure that you have exactly what you need. Not just physically but mentally as well. My guy knows the days where, I could just really use a good cry and being held for 20 minutes. He also knows when I need reassurance.

A guy that truly loves you will learn these things about you. He won't ignore you, he won't brush it off and say "you'll be fine."

Take my word on it, that's the guy you'll want to marry someday.

I know I do.

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