Iconic figures, Batman and J.R. Ewing, battled a common foe in theaters and on televisions across the world this summer – depression. The portrayal of their battles provides a fantastic glimpse into the life of someone faced with severe and prolonged depression.
In Bruce Wayne, we see a tragic hero in The Dark Knight Rises who not only lost the love of his life in Rachel Dawes, but also his reason for living – fighting crime as The Dark Knight – taken away. That double-whammy combined with the traumas of childhood plunged him into years of depression that left him isolated, stripped of all joys in life, and even more susceptible to the physical wear and tear his bodied suffered in battling Scarecrow, Joker, and the League of Shadows.
Likewise, in the revival of Dallas this summer we saw the unthinkable in early episodes: J.R. Ewing withering away alone, powerless, and not even a shadow of the former hard-driving, take-on-the-world SOB that we came to love and hate in the 80s. For J.R. it wasn’t the loss of romantic love that drove him into depression but loss of Ewing Oil, South Fork, and the power that came from the fear he instilled in his enemies.
In both cases, loss triggered their descent into depression but it was ultimately the lack of purpose and the loss of hope that kept them captive to it for years. This despite vast resources that could have helped them get the best of treatments that medicine has to offer.
Nevertheless, both emerged from the shadows of depression and it was because they found renewed purpose in life. For Batman it was the absolute necessity to save Gotham from the villain Bane and for J.R. it was the hope of rebuilding Ewing Oil with the discovery of vast deposits under South Fork, not to mention the opportunity to “teach” his son the rough and tumble oil business.
There is no silver bullet for dealing with depression but the lesson of their stories is obvious: finding a purpose (or a compelling goal) that speaks to the core of one’s self can be an invaluable key to winning the battle with depression.
Fantastic Artwork Courtesy of: