Being hemmed in
When I was really in the thick of it, I pushed everybody away. I’d cross the street to avoid friends that I’d known for a long time. So the sense of being crowded in society, I think this kind of represents that in a way, like there’s just this sense of being hemmed in.
I think just the colour and the feeling of the image resonated with me on how depression can feel. It feels slightly sort of melancholic and often looking out and seeing that it’s quite a beautiful day, but that’s all of what I’ll see.
Although it’s quite a beautiful view it's sort of bleak. The mountains in the distance and this is quite a nice hotel, but it just seems like a prison, that’s what I’m kind of getting across, it’s like that jail of like this thing that’s far away that you can’t reach.
I feel a lot safer now. Not safer from a threat, but safer from a social interaction. Basically I have a feeling that anyone can show up at any time. It’s this kind of feeling of being exposed and not having any privacy, or an absolute desire for privacy, and someone could just show up.
That’s just me sitting in my room during the day on my computer probably playing video games, probably vaping and then it being a perfectly good day outside and I feel like that is often where my depression traps me. I know that I should go outside but not having a reason to and not being able to find the motivation to leave the house.
I just was standing there. In that moment I just felt like throwing myself off the edge and falling forever. I was there for about an hour and a half, just contemplating, just thinking. Eventually, I walked away. But it was quite a nasty horrible day, there was rain, wind, and everything kind of reflected how I was feeling internally.
My view of the world
That was my view of the world as I walked through it. I didn’t want to look at people. I didn’t want to make eye contact with people and then have to talk to them. So I would look two to three metres at the ground in front of me and just walk to wherever I was going.
The weather’s closing in a bit there but before that it had been, not an amazing day but it had been a much nicer day, and I think it captures the idea that your bad or darker thoughts or darker feelings can sort of creep in even though it’s the same landscape. You can be in the same place but things can change.
I remember I had a conversation with my pastor and he said to me ‘Look at a tree, it’s got no leaves on it, it looks lifeless. That’s how you are at the moment, but we know that in a season this tree will bear fruit again, and we know that in a season you will bear fruit again’. I really trusted and respected this pastor, so I saw it as a positive thing, but I think what happened is it really burnt on my life, this sense that I was dead, or not bearing fruit, or you know that I was stuck in this kind of grey, dismal, season.
When I’m depressed I just cannot explain why I’m feeling that way. Normally pictures of the sky and landscape bring me a lot of joy but that day I still didn’t feel it and I was just staring at the sky, still unable to explain why I was feeling the way I was.
Tunnelling into blackness
It just says so much about the sense of emotions with it for men. It’s dark, it's almost tomb like, and the colours that you do get out of the world when it is in colour, they’re not bright vibrant colours, there’s none of those vibrant colours that would otherwise bring us up.
Survival through the cracks
Slowly, society closed in around me and pushed me down, that’s how I experienced it. The little wee grain they actually stomped on or sprayed with weedkiller. I started noticing these weeds growing through concrete and in the middle of the road and I could identify with them because that’s exactly how I felt. I was actually finding some way through this concrete to be myself and somehow I was surviving.
It’s just clutter. Clutter and busy-ness but also, not bothering.
I kept the curtains closed, but that was kind of how my mind was as well.
I guess that sort of describes that with anxiety when it becomes too particularly problematic, you can become so wrapped up in it that you start getting quite, it’s almost like a claustrophobia type feeling. It’s quite hard to articulate.
The sink is like a darkness that’s very much overwhelming. You’re looking down into it. The focus for me is actually what’s under the sinkhole, that’s where it’s very bleak. It’s very hopeless. It’s overwhelming. And I think about my anxiety, it becomes so intense.
When I saw the padlock it was this feeling of, particularly with anxiety, that feeling of being locked into it. No matter how hard you try to get rid of your anxiety you just can’t.
Security supports surprise visits
I know when somebody’s approaching so I can prepare myself, whatever that means.
This reflects what was going on inside me. You can’t see far, it’s all grey, and there’s no colour in the world and yet while it’s intensely lonely, it’s also serene in a way.
A blank screen
In my darkest times it felt like I was a blank screen. That actually there’s nothing there. There’s nothing being communicated. It’s a coping mechanism from feeling overwhelmed so my mind in some ways rather cleverly says I’m just going to close everything down.
Hitting rock bottom
This is just absolute rock bottom black, can’t get out of bed, function, that kind of stuff. Yeah just that thing of yeah just I’d rather be dead, I don’t see the point.
A closed door even on
a hot day to keep people out
I’ll keep the door closed, just on the off chance that someone’s going to just turn up and suddenly I have to deal with somebody unexpectedly. That will weigh heavy on my mind if I don’t have that door closed. I’ll be thinking about it.
This is a depiction of quite a large season of my life which I just spent essentially in bed, where I didn’t want to get out of bed, it felt safe being in bed.
There’s a lack of self-care I guess that I have when I’m not feeling particularly well. Lunch will basically be exclusively coffee and vaping.
I took this photo after having a really big argument with my partner and I noticed that I was feeling a lot of self-loathing feelings, blaming myself for what had happened, and I felt really enclosed. It was a time when I felt really really shit and that feeling is the same feeling when I feel quite depressed or like everything’s my fault.
Hidden behind the mask
It's relevant today but it's been relevant my whole life. The mask that we wear today is different, but I've always had to wear a mask. When I was deeply depressed I was smiley and happy with people because that was the mask I was choosing to wear. It's not wanting to be identified as unwell.
This is going to happen
This symbolises a feeling that there is only one trajectory and only one option. When you’re in the middle of a dark period it’s hard to see any alternative options, it’s just ‘this is going to happen'. For me that’s like when you’re depressed, it’s like this catastrophising.
Which way do I go?
This describes what it feels like in the middle of all this where you actually don’t know which directions which. It’s a lot of coming and going and busyness and, to be honest, none of it matters. You’re just sitting in the middle of it and it’s all going on around you. That's to me what it felt like.
Before I sleep I overanalyse conversations
I’ll find my body is suddenly tense and I need to try to relax and that’s just from simple interactions. There’s this after-effect from it, where I’m just incredibly tense and thinking about what happened in great detail.
Represents living with anxiety
That represents for me a heightened sense of anxiety. If I don’t get enough sleep, I won't be able to function… if I can't function properly, people at work will notice, and I might lose my job. It then spirals into this thing. But I shouldn’t need it. Why should I need it? If I need it then I’m fucked up. And if that doesn’t work, then what? I end up not being able to function.
Safe but trapped
I would have the curtains closed most of the time and it could be 30 degrees outside. It could be a beautiful day, but I didn’t want to be outside because that’s where people were. So I would be inside with the curtains drawn. But it might as well have been prison bars.
I used to find a lot of comfort in being in my safe little room, playing my video games and reading my comics, while also getting really drunk on my own. But it makes me feel like shit now. I can’t do that anymore. What used to feel safe, what used to serve me then, isn’t really serving me anymore.
The feeling that my entire life is falling leaves
I’m just standing somewhere powerless in the darkness, and you just watch everything around you just crumble. I think depression is probably for every single person a different experience. For me it is just the feeling of being powerlessly watching everything that was once nice just leaving and dying and falling apart and you can’t do anything.
I remember just looking up and thinking it would be just so nice to see a blue sky right now. It’s just cluttered by leaves and rustling and noise. I guess for me again signifying that idea that when you’re feeling overwhelmed you want to get to that light, you want that peace but there’s just so many obstacles in the way.
This encapsulates what I was going through. A lot of boiling away pain or simmering really because I didn’t really know. When this photo was taken I still didn’t know that I was in the midst of depression. When I look at it now, it’s like wow, you were going through some things buddy.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, rather than sort of sticking to the regulars or people that are good friends, there tends to be a lot more random hook-ups. It’s because I enjoy the validation that comes from hooking up with a stranger.
Medication, for me, represents having to deal with anxiety.
I think it’s an important part of showing what happened in my journey. It’s something that I have sought help for since and it’s something I don’t really want to do ever do again.
My bedroom became a safe place for me, my comfort zone.
It’s like my experience of distress when I was diagnosed with chronic depression. It was like a hardness which often feels very heavy and non-moving and very difficult to get out of. So the encouragement to me here was the crack and the life coming through it, which seemed unlikely. But actually it happens. At the time it feels like nothing will, but the fact is with life there’s hope.
Looks like living with anxiety
This is my bedside table, it's got all my things on it that are kind of my little rituals that I need to kind of help me get through.
Your home reflects your life
Normally I make my bed every single day but if I’m feeling a bit down or a bit overwhelmed, like on any given day, then I won’t make it. And so that’s sort of the biggest tell for me.
Isolated and powerless
My lived experience with mental health has throughout my life been a very isolating experience. But the other side to that picture is that I flicked the switch to off to take the picture. Because not only is it isolating, it often leaves you very powerless.
This is an average day in my life. I just sit in my bed and either stare at the blanket or I stare at the wall. Stare at the ceiling. I’ve been living in a state of mental isolation for a very long time.
That’s out my office window at work and it was a bit of a grizzly grey day and so it’s the idea that the rain is like the negative thoughts and feelings that can come at you and behind that is still the good things or the structures I suppose that you can rely on to do what you need to do.
With anxiety you’re just in this constant, it’s the business of it all, it’s just chaotic, your mind is just all over the place, and you’re trying to make sense of everything but nothing makes sense.