Depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses that people grapple with. It can strike at any time and makes no distinction between young or old. Learning to deal with thoughts of self-doubt can be difficult, which is why comics are a great source of inspiration for mental health representation. The Scarlet Witch is a superhero that’s struggled with depression in a realistic way. But rather than let it consume her, she’s adopted coping strategies that have helped to change her life. I think Scarlet Witch is a brilliant role model for anyone who suffers from depression and I’m going to look into the reasons why.
A character without agency
In her earliest appearance, Wanda Maximoff was portrayed as a background character. She acted as a foil to her brother Quicksilver, someone he could protect. When Magneto was revealed to be their father, Wanda continued to be viewed as an afterthought. She existed to further her father’s agenda and be seen as a damsel in distress.
On joining The Avengers, Scarlet Witch was placed into a love triangle with Hawkeye and The Vision. She became an object of affection, serving the plot without having agency of her own. Even in the early days, Wanda’s mental state became a talking point. She gave birth to twins, Thomas and William, through magic. When it became apparent they were magical constructs, Wanda’s mental health deteriorated.
Scarlet Witch’s depression took centre stage during House of M, when Quicksilver convinced her to warp reality to grant everyone their fondest wishes. This led to the events of M-Day, when Wanda wiped out a large number of the mutant population. This act came to define her for a long time, which made her mental health even worse.
Wanda’s lack of agency is a poignant reflection of how helpless someone can feel when they are going through depression. Originally, she had no motivation of her own. She was swept up in the events of her family and friends, acting in a passive mindset. This is similar to how a depressive can see the world. Negative thoughts pile up and life becomes overwhelming.
Yet Scarlet Witch found a way to cope with her disorder. She started going to therapy and talking about her problems. She took medication to help manage her condition. She stopped drinking because she knew alcohol would only make her feel worse. She learned to stop blaming herself.
Scarlet Witch’s road to recovery was detailed in her solo series. Written by James Robinson, the series explored Wanda’s desire to live a healthier lifestyle. Sensing the witchcraft in the world was broken, Wanda decided to fix it. It was a decision she made for herself and it gave her a purpose. It gave her a routine. By setting out to stop magical problems, Scarlet Witch found her self-worth again. Wanda managed to stand up to her brother and forced him to stop seeing her as someone who needed to be rescued.
Finding a routine can be a helpful coping strategy. By having a task to focus on, it stops the mind from overthinking. Wanda focused all of her energy into fixing witchcraft, which made her more determined to reclaim her life.
The Scarlet Witch series showcased depression in a respectful way. It showed Wanda dealing with it, but didn’t try to offer an easy fix. Depression is an ongoing battle, which Wanda acknowledged by saying that it would be with her every day.
Wanda has come a long way from a girl who started out as a spectator in her own life. By acknowledging and accepting her depression, she found a way to manage it. Acceptance is half the battle. Once that happens, it becomes easier to live with a mental health disorder. Everyone has their own coping strategies and if you’ve found a way to manage your depression, be proud of yourself.
Daredevil is another superhero who suffers with depression. Find out how why I think he can be seen as a mental health role model.