Sunday 15 February 2009

Painting and thinking about depression.

My chum and fellow blogger Rob McDonagh has just posted a very good post on Depression and while I am not a fellow sufferer someone very close to me is, and his post describes almost perfectly what I saw (or possibly what i thought i saw) as the carer for someone suffering the trials and tribulations of an acute depressive episode.

I recommend you nip over to his blog and read it.

I have never had a depressive episode like the way he describes or like the one I experienced second hand and I hope I never do. I have been down yes, everyone has those days but I have never had that seemingly all encompassing black cloud descends and sucks the joy out of life.

Rob, my friend , I salute you .. a very brave and incredibly well written post!

I was sitting as you do on a Saturday evening re-reading Rob's post and remembering my own experiences and I remembered some paintings I did partly as catharsis and partly to expose my own demons. There are no answers in what follows, just thoughts and some brush strokes on paper.

A solitary figure poised cruciform above a swirling void, a red point of dull light at the base. Fingers of cold blue reach out. The symbolism is fairly brutal and simple, but that is the way that it appeared to me when my loved one was in the throes of her depression.

I felt that I was an observer, forced to watch this dive into the void and unable to help, as the hell I could only guess at was completely internal to someone else.

This next one came along when the anxiety and anguish kicked in. The mood swings that went from normal functioning human to one where every limb was contracted and twisted, every wrinkle was a fissure of deepest despair. It was around this time I started to understand what "anguish" really meant.

This one started as a homage to several nudes by several artists but as I painted it became a much more personal experience. It went from one colour to another and eventually settled on red, a warm colour but also the colour of rage, pain and danger.

A turned back is a sign of dismissal, a refusal to engage,the bald head a ancient sign of grieving In this instance as a symbol of the partial death of the self in the sufferer.

Lastly this one... a much stranger painting ... an open window inviting the figure to exit the dark room into a summer day. The figure with dropped head facing away from the outside, but yet may have opened the window in preparation for leaving.

The figure is facing a falling leaf, in nature a sign of the transition from one season to another, here a symbol for the demise of the depression
when the leaf hits the floor, the figure may well leave the room and enter the sunlight.

Who knows....

Painting these pictures helped me get through a difficult time, looking at them now, having dug them out from under my study table is an odd mixture of remembering the way I felt watching a loved one implode and relief that while there are still echoes from time to time, the dark visitor that made her life a misery has not come back to stay.

Cuz Rob .. and the rest of your family.. You are in the thoughts of the McDonaghs on the other side of the pond and we are send as many "Feel Better" vides as it takes to make a difference. :-)

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