OK, this is my very first article - I have never written an article for Fanpop before. It's a poor excuse if this turns out to be the poorest article ever submitted, but I'm going to use it anyway... please go easy on me xD. This is LONG, so bear with me, I appreciate it!
I have been wondering for some time now about Bella's vulnerability, state of mind, and overall mental well-being. New Moon, in the beginning, was my favourite book of the series, for two reasons: Jacob Black was instantly likeable and interesting, winning the title of my favourite character, but also the black hole that Bella goes through in this sequal.
Now, things are about to get boring, because I'm going to tell you a bit about me. *Groan!* I hear you say, *What has that got to do with Bella?* I hear you ask. Well, bear with me. When I was 14 (I am now 19), I was struck with Depression, which developed into other disorders, all of which I still struggle with today. I have come a long long way, with help, but I'm still in the darkness, still getting treatment, still unable to work, and still missing a lot of very important aspects of a healthy happy life. It is near impossible to describe Depression and its effects, though I believe that someone else who is a much better writer than I could give a powerful mental image and understanding. I, however, am going to just move right on to Bella Swan.
A lot of people describe Bella as 'empty'. I agree. It is apparent that there is something missing in Bella. She has no interests. She seems 'emotionless'. Do we know of any hobby that Bella has? Anything that she enjoys doing, anything that she is passionate about? What does Bella do with her days?
We know that Bella takes care of her mother, and we know that Bella's mother is vulnerable. Twilight, Page 4: 'I felt a spasm of panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leave my loving, erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course she had Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be food in the refrigerator, gas in the car, and someone to call when she got lost, but still...'. Bella has spent most of her life being her mother's carer. Looking after Renee and taking care of the home, must be very hard work, especially beginning at a young age, and is no doubt the reason she is 'mature for her years'. Perhaps Bella never found the time to explore hobbies and interests, to do the things that the other girls her age were doing. Her mother came first, her mother's well-being and the home running smoothly. Their roles were reversed. Bella devoted her life to her role.
Also, mental health problems often run in families. A higher chance of Bella being vulnerable.
At her new school, she feels isolated from her classmates. She is withdrawn, reserved. I get the impression that she wants to keep herself to herself. It also seems that she's reluctant to trust people, hesitant to show these people who she is, let them know her. She does not particularly like attention, she is uncomfortable in the spotlight.
We find out that Bella's self-esteem is poor. I know that a lot of fans say that they can relate to Bella, but here, it is probably true. Self-esteem is a fragile thing and during the teen years, it is easily knocked. My self esteem has been very unhealthy since I was about 13, I'm always putting myself down, thinking the worst of myself, rating everybody else much higher. Bella does all this. She thinks she is worthless. She believes she could never be good enough. She does not understand the interest she is getting from boys. She is repeatedly telling us how ridiculous it is that a guy like Edward, different, mysterious, fantastical, sees anything in plain, clumsy, average Bella. He is too good for her. She doesn't deserve him.
Dependancy often accompanies Depression. Dependancy is a powerful, and debilitating thing. Especially if the person you depend on is the only thing (even if only seemingly) in your life. There is nothing else to Bella's life, nothing that completes her, nothing that brings her joy and satisfaction, nothing that makes her feel fulfilled. Edward is everything to her. He has brought her happiness, given her days meaning, made her feel alive. She fulls madly in love with this saviour. He is everything. Then Edward leaves. Everything comes crashing down. Crumbling down to nothing. Her heart is broken; her self esteem has been destroyed, the man she loved has gone, her life has gone back to being empty, lonely, meaningless. Bella has always been vulnerable to this; her soul has left her. Not literally, not like dying physically. She has died inside. Depression has taken its hold of her, and all life has left. She is described as 'a zombie', which I'm pretty sure I have been many times in the past, particularly in the beginning. She is 'comatose', which I can relate with a lot. When my blackness envelops full force, I lay in bed, staring. I did this an awful lot when I was 14 and 15, just lay in bed, staring, not eating, not talking, not living at all. This is Bella for four months. We are not told what happens during those four months. I imagine that it is a very hard thing to write, and Stephenie Meyer felt that she couldn't show us this story. Or, she felt it better to get on with her 'waking up' and back to the real story of Jacob and Edward. But we are given a glimpse of how she was by Charlie, New Moon Page 396 - 398: "That first week --- I thought I was going to have to hospitalize her. She wouldn't eat or drink, she wouldn't move. Dr. Gerandy was throwing around words like 'catatonic', but I didn't let him up to see her. I was afraid it would scare her". "She was... empty. Her eyes were blank. There were lots of little things --- she wouldn't listen to music anymore; I found a bunch of CDs broken in the trash. She didn't read; she wouldn't be in the same room when the TV was on... I finally figured it out --- she was avoiding everything that might remind her of... him." "It was like night of the living dead around here. I still hear her screaming in her sleep..." "Now and then I see something in her eyes, and I wonder if I've ever grasped how much pain she's really in. It's not normal, Alice, and it frightens me. Not like someone left her, but like someone died." Bella even tells us: "It was like someone died --- like I had died". Back on Page 95, after waking up, Charlie describes Bella as 'lifeless'. He suggests that she 'get help, see a professional'.
I related to all of this. It really touched me. Why? Because I did all of the same things, especially when I was 15. I even did the avoiding stuff, because so many things caused me pain.
New Moon means more to me than just the awesomeness of Jacob. It's seeing Bella go through what I went through, and, at times, still do. Bella gets better; whether it was Edward's apparitions, or Jacob's friendship, or both combined, Bella gets better, with time. When Edward returns, she is recovered. Bella may still be vulnerable to Depression. We are told she has a happy ending... but maybe she will always be a step away.... underneathe.
This article is not to defend Bella. It is not an argument against Bella-hate or whatnot. It is simply something I've wondered, something I shared with her, and, at the risk of somebody calling me a nutjob (!) I've decided to share with you. Depression can be different for everybody, everybody goes through it their own way. I don't know how much about Depression Stephenie Meyer knows about -- someone in her family? Her own experience? Research? - but I really felt Bella's experience and I wondered what you think. A lot of Bella's behaviours, thoughts, and feelings may very well have Depression at the core. I know only too well. Everybody says that Bella is an awful role model and a weak woman, but Depression can make a person very dependant. I know about that only too well, too. Depression can do all sorts of things to a person. Maybe, with this in mind, we could read Bella in a new way.
Thank you so much for reading all this!