Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Life 9 - words on depression that will go on the body






My friend Debbi whose blog is linked here and on the sidebar has kindly written for me about depression. She is a professional writer and I'm so very grateful for her help.

I know from your comments that this is something that affects a lot of people and they get quite angry and verbose at inane and belittling comments (who doesn't?). I haven't felt able to write this piece for myself and sought help as I don't want to hash out other peoples well worn cliches, and have no experience of deep depression myself.

After reading the words, I feel the piece has profoundly changed; it's evolved, and so I have changed the title of the piece to:



Life 9 - Not Fighting Back (the image therefore becomes a parody)


“You just need to think positively, like I do.”/“ You always dwell on the negative. You’re just making it worse for yourself.”/“ Pretend you’re happy and then people will want to be around you again.”/“ There’s nothing wrong with your life. Just snap out of it.”

Yeah, it’s true. You’re right. You who live in a world where depression is something to be sneered at or pitied. You who lives in a world free of this. There is nothing wrong with my life. I shouldn’t wake up feeling like I’m caught in a vice. I shouldn’t stumble through each day a second away from tears, with a knot of tension in my stomach that never eases, afraid of everything and everyone.

I am alive, not destitute, not in severe pain every day, I can move my limbs, I am cognisant, I am smart. I’m a middle class, white, privileged English woman. What the hell do I have to be depressed about?

But on a semi-regular basis my world fades to black. And it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you say to me. It doesn’t matter that you think I’m pathetic, or self-pitying or hysterical or overly dramatic or selfish or self-pitying or wanting attention or boring or needy or any of those things I’ve been called and told over the years. My world remains black, whatever you think of me.  

I’m good at hiding it, for the most part. Some people only see me as short tempered and moody and all the rest of that hilarious stuff. What they don’t know is that I spend days at a time choking back tears, that my amusingly low tolerance for teasing and banter makes me cry till I choke when I’m in private, that the simplest noise, like someone talking loudly or the phone ringing, can make me jump out of my skin because I am so tense, that I wake up in the morning with my heart racing and my limbs aching from clenching muscles, even in my sleep, that I wake up and cry, that I cry myself to sleep, that I can only see, hear, think and feel black and dark and despair and blank terror at the pointlessness of existence. That during the bad times I feel rudderless, so that I am floating, untethered through uncertainty and fear and every face I see is blank and every person I meet wants to hurt me and every path I choose is blocked.

My depression traps me, it smothers me, it makes it hard to breathe, it makes it hard to think, it makes it hard for me to look at my own face in the mirror, to talk to my own mother, to set foot outside my door. I want to crawl away from the world. And not stop. Just keep going until I die or the world ends. Whichever comes first.

Depression is insidious, it is without logic, it is without charm and it is without romance. It twists everything you see, you feel and you do. Depression has robbed me of relationships, friends, jobs and opportunities. As the years go by, the web of despair may flex and change - sometimes it’s way in the horizon and I can breathe and live, and sometimes it is clinging to my very skin, a damp, stultifying gauze between me and the world - but it never leaves me. And it most likely never will.

10 comments:

  1. In our family, we don't say any of those things now, because we see. We can't be in there but we know you are suffering. It leaves nothing to say except that we are out here. At least it is now shared. That is the benefit of depression being given recognition & finding its place as a recognisable illness. So very sad.

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  2. Powerful stuff. I, like so many, have experienced bits and pieces of this and know that there is nothing for it but to grit one's teeth until the worst of it passes, thankful for the occasional truly understanding person who reaches out in just the right way.

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  3. I know exactly what you are saying.

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  4. Annabel- some day I must have a private tutorial with you on how you stitch your words onto the quilt. I am getting into words now on art in a big way but am still experimenting with the best way to add them to the work.

    Meanwhile, another stimulating and thought provoking work. Interestingly, this time I feel quite challenged by it but in a different way. I have never yet ( tough wood) had depression but I believe that 2 members of my family have but won't acknowledge it. How do you say to someone, I think you're depressed- seek help? Mean while my poor elderly mother, herself not in the best of health, is battling with my father who is slipping into dementia. Se was like me, never depressed, but now defiantly has her black dog days and has every right to as well but I feel so powerless to help.

    So as always another brilliant piece in the making.

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  5. Thank you all for your comments. I'm beginning to understand depression better myself by doing this piece of work. Debbi's words made me cry to be honest, and made me feel like I'd discovered a basement to my tower block of a character, that I didn't know existed, and it was full of black concrete! My sympathies to all those who suffer and their families who must have a fairly hard time of it too.

    As for text on work, well, it's just free machining. All I do is draw a pencil line and go over it! xx

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    1. I had a thought, for anyone interested in text on quilts, my very good friend Laura Kemshall is doing a few courses this summer on that very subject. I think she may be booked up by now, but it's always worth a try. Here's a link for you: http://laurakemshall.blogspot.co.uk/ At the moment, she's stitching text on to gilded fabric. Really worth looking!

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  6. Hi, Annabel. Very exciting piece. The subject matter is so dense and important and could certainly turn into a whole series. Having lived most of my life with people who suffered bouts of depression, I find your text to be pertinent.
    best, nadia

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    1. Hiya Nadia, Indeed it could, but I think you'd have to intersperse it with lighter moments too for your own sanity - could be a bit heavy going!

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  7. A student of Linda's, I come to your work through DMTV... but I am also almost 7 years a widow, coming up age 61, seeing myself in many of your pieces...must express my admiration and delight and appreciation of your artistry, wisdom and insight. "Switching Off"...could be me.

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    1. A deep thank you Margaret. Switching Off is the one piece that people have found hardest to deal with, but it contains a truth for some. My deepest sympthies x

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Portrait in parts

For this portrait I'm starting off by using some stencils and stamps to make a background. I especially like the stencil with the jumble...