Stranger Things' Monster Vecna Is a Not-So-Subtle Symbol of Depression

While I’ve never suffered nosebleeds or nightmares, I have had depression and anxiety since I was in middle school, so I can relate to Max’s fight with Vecna. Ironically enough, I called depression my monster or alter ego, because I can’t always tell which thoughts and feelings are in fact my own. During a depressive episode, I’ll start thinking to myself, ‘No one cares about what you’re feeling, they’ve got problems of their own,’ which isn’t true. But, in the moment, it’s incredibly difficult to reason with yourself, especially as an insecure and hormone-filled teenager.

Like Max, I had friends who wanted me in their lives and made an effort to be there, but that other part of me, the depressed part, told me that they couldn’t understand how I was feeling. So I’d isolate myself, turning to books, movies and, most importantly, music for comfort. 

The Duffer brothers highlight the importance of music in the series by featuring Kate Bush‘s song “Running Up the Hill” (which is now No.1 on Apple Music). Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) play the song for Max while she’s under Vecna’s spell, helping shift her focus from the nightmarish Upside Down to the people in front of her. And it’s in this moment that Max is reminded she is loved and supported.

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