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Did Spuffy help Buffy's Depression?

Miss Muffet

"Can I trade in the children for more cash?"
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Do you think that Buffy's relationship with Spike helped her overcome her depression or made it harder to overcome it? Or do you think their relationship didn't affect her depression at all?
If the two of them didn't start a relationship, do you think Buffy would have worked through her depression sooner or later?
(Please keep in mind I know little to nothing about depression.)
 

AstridDante

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I think it helped alleviate it in that it allowed her to ‘feel’ something other than emptiness. In other ways it also prolonged it by her avoiding dealing with her issues in a healthier way.
 

Bop

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Sineya
I think Buffy being with Spike prolonged her depression in some ways and Spike encouraged her isolation because it meant she was with him.
What’s key is that when Buffy decided to work on being healthy again she 'broke up' with Spike because she knew their relationship was toxic in a lot of ways.

But I think if their relationship didn't happen Buffy would have just found another outlet that might have been equally bad for her.
 
S
Spanky
But that was only after she was in a place where she wanted to. She needed to step away from everything before she could rejoin and reconnect.

Spanky

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Black Thorn
Bop
Bop
It was a bad thing in Buffy's case because we see what actually helps Buffy's depression is reconnecting with Dawn and wanting to reconnect with her friends.

Stake fodder

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Do you think that Buffy's relationship with Spike helped her overcome her depression or made it harder to overcome it? Or do you think their relationship didn't affect her depression at all?
If the two of them didn't start a relationship, do you think Buffy would have worked through her depression sooner or later?
(Please keep in mind I know little to nothing about depression.)
I think her early conversations with Spike, about heaven and his understanding about her trauma, was helping. Having someone to talk to who understands does. Once they started having sex, though, she stopped allowing such conversations. The sexual relationship may have prolonged her depression by giving her a way to distract herself, or may have made no difference, but I don't think it shortened it.
 

NothingVentured

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Buffy's depression existed before Spike and after it, so it's a bit of a stretch to say it helped or prolonged it. It's really only something that happened. A choice she made during it. A bit of a coping mechanism perhaps since sex provides an endorphin kick, but that's it.
 

palabravampiress

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Black Thorn
I think Spike was a way of self-medicating for Buffy. NothingVentured mentioned the endorphin kick of sex, and that's a good point. When you feel so numb, feeling something - anything - is like a shot in the arm. She also had a lot of friendly talks with him, though, and opened up to him about her feelings in ways that she didn't yet feel comfortable doing with her friends and family members. I think Buffy used Spike as a crutch or a support to get her to a place where she was able to recover. In that sense, I think it actually helped Buffy. That said, knowingly hurting another person for your own benefit isn't healthy and, like she said when they broke up, it wasn't good for her, either. I think continuing like that would have been bad for both of them and maybe prolonged her depression or added to her feelings of guilt and self-loathing.
 

NothingVentured

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I think Spike was a way of self-medicating for Buffy. NothingVentured mentioned the endorphin kick of sex, and that's a good point. When you feel so numb, feeling something - anything - is like a shot in the arm. She also had a lot of friendly talks with him, though, and opened up to him about her feelings in ways that she didn't yet feel comfortable doing with her friends and family members. I think Buffy used Spike as a crutch or a support to get her to a place where she was able to recover. In that sense, I think it actually helped Buffy. That said, knowingly hurting another person for your own benefit isn't healthy and, like she said when they broke up, it wasn't good for her, either. I think continuing like that would have been bad for both of them and maybe prolonged her depression or added to her feelings of guilt and self-loathing.

The talks didn't really do anything. If they did, it never would have continued into what it did. Her dalliances with Spike were only temporary reprieves, but they did operate on multiple levels. Sex provides a high. Sex is an antidepressant (literally) and it provides way to exercise the self-loathing cycle. On top of all that you have genuine feelings and attraction. It's simplistic to say he was just a crutch. After they did break up, she only got worse.
 

TriBel

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Athene It was a bad thing in Buffy's case because we see what actually helps Buffy's depression is reconnecting with Dawn and wanting to reconnect with her friends.

But she doesn't stay reconnected does she? She loses interest in Dawn when the Potentials arrive and her relationship with her friends deteriorates. She bounces back to Spike. So was the depression just in remission?

I was looking at Normal. The episode is about missing people (in every sense of the word): Willow is missing Tara. Xander's been missing and misses Anya. Anya misses Xander. Who's Buffy missing?

From Xander:
I know that I'm a better person with her in my life. But things got so complicated with the wedding, and with my family, and with her ... demons, and ... what if it all goes to hell, a-and forever? (the girls looking sympathetic) But then I left ... and ever since ... I've had this painful hole inside. (Buffy looking pensive) And I'm the idiot that dug it out.

Buffy responds to the last remark and casts her eyes down. Her "depression" has all the characteristics of melancholia...a failure in the grieving process. It's a term dating back to the Greeks (I think). I tend to be happier using it because it has a place in the arts that predates the medicalisation of depression. I'm not sure Buffy's depression is pathological - I tend to read it as a "reasonable response to an unreasonable world". Unreasonable not just because she's a Slayer but also because she's a woman. IMO opinion her "depression" and how it's handled is key to whether or not BtVS is a feminist text.

More recently, melancholia's been characterised as "mourning for a lost mother and a lost self". "Mother" in this sense is a kind of illusionary plenitude - a completeness similar to the "Heaven" she describes- and to feel something is "missing" is quite normal. You could say necessary. But she's also lost her real mum. In the normal grieving process the loss is externalised - the world becomes a lesser place. In melancholia it's internalised - the self becomes less (Self-less?). So Buffy also has a painful hole inside. She misses her mum and she feels like hell (and like she's in Hell). BUT...could she also be missing Spike?

In response to Xander Buffy says "we all screw up" and it cuts to Spike...an edit that implies continuity. You can read the remark as she screwed up starting a relationship with Spike...or she screwed up by finishing the relationship and Spike is one of the people she's missing. There's a gravestone next to him that reads "Happy Land". Is death still Happy Land or did Spike take her to "Happy Land" (in several ways)? In this scene he asks her if she cried (at the wedding) and she doesn't immediately get the context. Something is definitely amiss.

Sex is an antidepressant (literally) and it provides way to exercise the self-loathing cycle.
Agree. IIRC, she says at the beginning of S8 "I miss that sex". She also says she misses her mum. The pleasure of sex is also associated with jouissance...which is "a form of women's pleasure or sexual rapture that combines mental, physical and spiritual aspects of female experience, bordering on mystical communion: "explosion, diffusion, effervescence, abundance...takes pleasure (jouit) in being limitless". Cixous maintains that jouissance is the source of a woman's creative power and that the suppression of jouissance prevents women from finding their own fully empowered voice.

In theory, the concept of jouissance associates Heaven and Hell; life and death (we call sexual climax "the little death") all of which are, in abstraction, associated with the mother. It could be jouissance she seeks in Normal. S7 is definitely an attempt to marry the physical with the spiritual/intellectual. So...what we call "endorphins" with something else.

At the beginning she's unloading on Spike as one would a therapist. She swears him to "patient confidentiality". In normal conditions, a therapist would have a mentor but she forbids him from telling anyone. In a sense she isolates him as much in the beginning as he attempts to isolate her after Smashed etc. It seems to me to be a perversion of the therapeutic process. As far as I'm aware, successful therapy (particularly psychoanalysis) doesn't mean a client is cured, it simply arms the client with new knowledge - what they do with it is up to them (kinda like Buffy in Get it Done). The client is supposed to come to this "awareness" or truth of his/her own volition over time. What happens in BtVS is the truth is forced out of them in OMWF. Isn't Sweet a god...I've seen overlaps suggested between therapy and the religious act of confession. In confession, the penitent is forgiven...in therapy, he/she forgives themselves. This might tie into St Francis Prayer played at the end of Grave. I dunno...I haven't joined all the dots. It's not just the story or plot...it's also about what they represent.

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it's in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born...
To eternal life.
Aaamen...

Do you think that Buffy's relationship with Spike helped her overcome her depression or made it harder to overcome it?
In answer to the OP - I think it helped. It could have helped more but for OMWF. But personally I don't think she ever overcomes it because it's representative of so much more than just Buffy's mental health. After that... well it's complicated. 😄
 

NothingVentured

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Athene It was a bad thing in Buffy's case because we see what actually helps Buffy's depression is reconnecting with Dawn and wanting to reconnect with her friends.

But she doesn't stay reconnected does she? She loses interest in Dawn when the Potentials arrive and her relationship with her friends deteriorates. She bounces back to Spike. So was the depression just in remission?

That's because they don't help any more than Spike did. To borrow the term 'crutch', Dawn really only serves the same purpose. She's a distraction and frankly, it's not really any more healthy than Spike though the show attempts to suggest otherwise. You can't live your life for other people.
 

Faded90

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That's because they don't help any more than Spike did. To borrow the term 'crutch', Dawn really only serves the same purpose. She's a distraction and frankly, it's not really any more healthy than Spike though the show attempts to suggest otherwise. You can't live your life for other people.
Honestly this adds to my love for the cookie dough speech which I know is predominantly about her love life - or eventual love life but I love that she seems to be thinking about herself and figuring herself out in a way that isn’t just about what she can do or be for other people
 

Dora

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Yes it prolonged Buffy depression, Buffy needed help and she knew being with Spike was wrong but she was mixed up she could not process it, Spike had pointed out she came back wrong, after smashed mostly it was Spike initiating the sex , touching Buffy being in her face manipulating her into sex, ignoring her no's and don't , yes there was times Buffy went to Spike, but Spike knew the real Buffy, the mentally well Buffy would have nothing to do with him, he took advantage, Buffy breakdown with Tara seems to be totally ignored by others her guilt about using Spike but not knowing why or why she let him do those things to her. The hatred lots on the Buffy boards for Riley but his talk to Buffy started to bring Buffy depression under some form of control, Buffy knew that to get better she had to stop letting Spike use her and her him , hence the AR in Buffy's bathroom when spike again tried to take advantage Buffy knowing she had a back injury, but this time she was mentally strong enough to fight him off
 
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