Depression – Expressing the concept through art

December 31st, 2009 | Posted by nicarius in Drawings
Depression sketch by Nico Whittaker

"Depression" - Click on image to enlarge

The story of “Depression”

A few years ago I suffered from Major Depressive Disorder or simply “Depression” and also anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t know exactly why but I believe it was caused by a stress peak related to a series of events that I had to go through at those times.
It got bad. I stopped working, stopped eating, and ultimately became a crying vegetable. At some point I felt I was actually going crazy. I seeked help and I found a great psychiatrist who put me on medication,… and after a couple of weeks I was back on my feet. I tried to stop taking the medication several times but after a few days I was back at square one.
I finally stopped taking depression pills after 2 years and I still take anxiety pills every day.
Anyway, I think that depression is one of those things in life that you can’t describe or explain. You have to go through them to be able to understand the feeling.  Maybe like childbirth, breastfeeding, a soldier fighting in the war, or loosing a loved one. See, people around you try to help you but they get frustrated because there’s really nothing they can do, it’s chemical. Them, You, everybody try to rationalize it but is useless, you still feel like shit. So one day I decided to try putting what I was feeling on paper. Drawing. Painting. I sketched this drawing on pen and ink,then scanned it and colored it in the computer. The main idea under this image is what I was feeling at the time: no matter how beautiful is the world outside, inside you are dying. By the way, I never got to paint it on canvas.

Some facts I found out about Depression:

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.
Major depressive disorder is more prevalent in women than in men.
As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.
People with depression are four times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. After a heart attack, they are at a significantly increased risk of death or second heart attack.
Major depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide among persons five and older.
Depression ranks among the top three workplace issues, following only family crisis and stress.
Depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year.
The suicide rate for older adults is more than 50% higher than the rate for the nation as a whole. Up to two-thirds of older adult suicides are attributed to untreated or misdiagnosed depression.
Untreated depression is the number one risk for suicide among youth. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds and the fourth leading cause of death in 10 to 14 year olds. Young males age 15 to 24 are at highest risk for suicide, with a ratio of males to females at 7:1.
The death rate from suicide (11.3 per 100,000 population) remains higher than the death rate for chronic liver disease, Alzheimer’s, homicide, arteriosclerosis or hypertension.

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8 Responses

  • Alexander Supertramp says:

    After reviewing your idea of Expressing the concept of depression through art, I felt compelled to make some comments about it. First about the piece of art itself. Having gone through the same ordeal myself, I feel that not only it is tragically beautiful, but for some reason it depicts in a very deep and direct way, the feelings that one goes through at those VERY difficult times. Added to that, the braveness and effort made to put out in words so simply and yet so openly about what YOU went through, is also remarkable. My best to you,

    Alexander Supertramp.

  • Alexander Supertramp says:

    Oh… I forgot. If you ever paint it on canvas, I hope I get the first chance at buying it. It has a lot of meaning for me as well. Take care.

  • nicarius says:

    Thank you Alexander for your kind comment.
    I really appreciate it.
    Take care,

  • nicarius says:

    Of course, thanks again!

  • Hola Nico,
    De verdad estuviste tan jodido? Y ahora? como andas? No estarás extrañando un poco estas tierras? Igual te digo que por acá no anda todo como uno quisiera…El dibujo es simplemente hermoso, no me sorprende tu habilidad y sensibilidad ya que había que ser ciego para no darse cuenta. Mantenete en contacto! Y a ver si algun dia nos encontramos.
    Abrazo, Maxi

  • nicarius says:

    Maxi querido,
    Gracias por tu comentario.
    Es como vos decis, asi es la vida, a veces andamos mal, otras bien.
    Ya nos vamos a encontrar y hablaremos un poco de todo.
    Otro abrazo,

  • Vader says:

    Como padre – tu padre – la imagen me resulta profundamente movilizadora.
    Viendola, siento que tu posibilidad de expresar algo tan dificil de sobrellevar como lo es la depresion es conmovedora.
    Asimismo,no encuentro las palabras adecuadas para poder,yo,expresar la angustia que me produce.

  • Chris B. says:

    Fascinating painting – tranquil and beautiful and boom, yours (or the sufferers which could be any of us) in the bottom corner crying. Highlights how no matter what your doing when you are going through a tough time with depression, it may not improve your mood. you nailed it when you said it was chemical and people around you get frustrated because they cant do anything to help. I was reduced to a weeping wreck when I went through my depression/anxiety in 2nd year of university. I’d be in the library trying to get a book and suddenly start struggling to breathe, have a panic attack and collapse crying. Utterly mad experience to go through. I was asked once what was wrong and I said through sobs – I have no idea. Eventually got put on medication, and like yourself tried to come off when feeling much better but returned to square one. Excellent topic to consider and draw.

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