Thursday, 16 August 2012

Depression as I see it ...

Some days I wake from non-sleep with self-loathing dripping from every pore; I almost can’t believe it when the mirror shows no sign of the inner pain I feel.  How can feeling like this look so normal?   

I saw this fantastic pictorial representation of depression the other day.  In a single image it encapsulates so much about the illness.  The fact that we feel we have to hide behind a "public face" of being "fine";  the pain that is invisible to those who see us; the fact that no matter how we look on the outside, the emotions we really feel are too painful to share, sometimes even with those closest to us.  

What the image doesn't show is that the emotion we are hiding may not just be sadness.  Depression is so much more than just feeling sad, although that of course is part of it.  The picture behind the façade could also be writhing in pain, or running round in circles trying to find a way to escape, or screaming into the wind.  No picture could capture the spiralling self-commentary spelling out just how useless, fat, ugly, stupid, worthless and trapped we feel.  No picture could show how seeing someone happy can make our heart break and how guilty and pathetic that makes us feel.  A picture may be able to depict us injuring ourselves but it cannot explain why we do it.  Trying to create outer wounds to reflect the invisible inner ones cannot be described by pictures.

Perhaps I am wrong though, and mental pain can be portrayed, maybe not in simplistic representations like the apple picture above, but in art.  Recently I visited the Picasso & Modern British Art Exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.  Picasso's cubist style is not to my taste and this exhibition did nothing to change my opinion, but the works associated with his Guernica masterpiece are different.  They are extremely powerful depictions of human pain.  Other artists too have captured human suffering in their work.  Maybe one day I too will find the medium to express the pain within, whether that would help ease the pain perhaps only time will tell.

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