An overly long, and probably unnecessary, deeper look into the inspiration behind my newest art work, Weather Peace.
This piece was an attempt at self- acceptance. I could say something like, “I was diagnosed with hereditary chronic depression three years ago and since then have received continual treatment”. But that doesn’t sound true at all. In my personal experience there is nothing that feels “medical” or “treatable” about depression. For me there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete about depression that can be pinned down and understood.
First of all it is insanely common. Which is a problem I think someone should really try to figure that out. If 1 in 5 people have depression then someone should probably figure out why the human race is slowly evolving into unmotivated piles of self hatred and hopeless sadness. That seems a bit important.
Second of all the word “depression” hides all manner of sins doesn’t it? It can be referring to a normal emotion, a situational mental state, a chronic issue, or at it’s absolute worse something very serious and very scary.
Third, a lot of depression is hereditary. Which is a little terrifying. Because depending on your social class and the emotional intelligence of your family; the word depression can equal normal. If your parents have it and their parents had it, then not only are you genetically predisposed but also learned behavior definitely is a contributing factor. Plus since no one has experienced anything except depression then chronic exhausted hopeless is just reality. There isn’t or never was a different option.
My personal experience of this ambiguous state we call “depression” (which to this day there is a small part of me that doesn’t believe it exists and we are all just very dramatic and crazy) is not easily explained. When you have a headache it is obvious. Your head doesn’t hurt and then it hurts and you can’t really ignore it. Same thing with a stomach ache or breaking a limb. It’s physical. Something you can point to and say, “That was ok and now it is not ok and I would like it to be ok again please because this sucks”.
Depression for me was just normal. It was just life and how I functioned in it. It took therapy and anti-depressants for me to very slowly realize just because it may be normal and common does not mean it has to be my reality. It took therapy and anti-depressants for me to learn what it feels like to not be depressed. Which is personally very exciting. So the way I would describe my personal experience of depression is: tiny bites. Each individual bite doesn’t hurt very badly, but it is just a continuous unending stream of tiny bites into your being until you can’t take it anymore. You explode, implode, or go numb.
This is what lead me to the self acceptance idea. Chronic depression never goes away. It isn’t curable. Medication is extremely helpful but it always needs to be adjusted. So after time your dose needs to increase to be effective. I, personally, find the combination of therapy and medication helps. Either one on it’s own would not stand a chance at this point in my life. All the invisible symptoms of depression (which only you experience in your head and cannot be tested for) can only be treated as they come up. This is what lead me to the desire to be at peace with this weird very abstract fake feeling thing that is never going away. I just need to get better at facing it and dealing with it. I can’t fight it or hate it, it’s just pointless and wastes energy.
The art piece. Right. Why I started talking about my personal sob story. Brains contain a large amount of electricity and are extremely malleable. The amount the human brain is capable of curing itself is really cool. A very slow process we have no direct control over, but still cool. Thunderstorms are also full of electricity and have a weird double edged sword effect on the world. They can be extremely destructive and powerful but also really soothing and nourishing.
The only consistent physical effects on the body caused by depression (or that cause depression who really knows) are in the brain. There are always other side effects since depression can lead to a lot of physical issues, but the main issue and source is in the brain.
It seems there are a lot of issues with lack of connectivity, shrinkage, and inflammation caused by depression. But for this project I chose to focus of three concrete parts of the brain that I could wrap my head around (haha). Do not quote me on this I am not science-y human. The Hippocampus of the brain of depressed patients are typically smaller. Depression or stress can negatively effect the production of new neurons and they think (no one really knows) that is what causes this area of the brain to shrink which effects memory. The Amygdala is associated with very strong emotions. This part of the brain has a lot more (and probably not required or called for) activity in people with depression. Lastly I chose to focus the shrinkage recorded in the frontal lobe. That is part does a lot but is also associated with empathy. People with depression tend to be less empathetic, which I think is hilarious. I find really depressed people to be some of the most sensitive humans on the planet, but they are so wrapped up in their own stuff they are physically incapable of getting out of their own head. Even to help themselves. How messed up is that!?
In conclusion this project attempts to integrate all those elements; depression, concrete physical effects on the brain, the emotional range of a thunderstorm; in order to visualize my reality and learn to accept it.
Let’s see how that works out ;).