When the Internal Monologue Goes Rogue: My Interpretation of 'The Insidious Whisper' Part 2


In my last post, I detailed how one's internal monologue can turn into a stealthy enemy when depression strikes. Now let's look at how that all fits in with my painting 'The Insidious Whisper'.

Please note that what follows is my interpretation. If you would rather do the hard work yourself then you can pop off now and make a lovely cup of tea instead of reading on.

The painting as a whole represents what is happening in my head during times when I am suffering from depression. The setting has been described as post-apocalyptic. I see it more as mid-apocalypse. As time goes on, the buildings will continue to crumble and the sparse vegetation will completely perish leaving a barren, dead world.


The smaller figure is my perception of myself during episodes of depression and let's call him 'Self-perception'. I used photos of Auschwitz prisoners as reference material. But whereas I was impressed by the dignity still present in the images of people who had systematically been brutalised and dehumanised, there is no dignity left in the figure in my painting. His eyes are downcast and he is beaten, unaware of his surroundings. Fully accepting what he is being told, he believes he deserves the relentless mental abuse and has no desire to escape.

The larger figure - affectionately known as 'Concrete Head' by my mother but I'll call him 'The Whisperer' - is fairly obviously the part of my internal monologue that has turned against me. Over time as my perception of myself has grown smaller, 'The Whisperer' has increased in size and power. Shrouded in fog he keeps himself hidden, creeping up on the small figure from the safety of the mist. But at this advanced stage of the depressive process, he is becoming more brazen as his hand comes forward allowing him to whisper even more incessantly in the other character's ear. 'Self-perception' stares at the ground in front of him, oblivious to what is happening around him.


Like other illnesses, if 'The Whisperer' actually succeeds in his sinister task, he will destroy himself. The first signs of this can be seen on his skin as he starts to rot away. The energy he rips out of 'Self-perception' by attacking his self-esteem is drawn into the concrete well. From there it dissipates through the tentacles into the dead earth. As time progresses, and 'Self-perception' falls, 'The Whisperer' will shrivel up, die and also sink into the ground. @CarmenPitsch on Twitter commented that she felt pity for 'The Whisperer' as though it was trying to cling on to the last remnants of life. I'd never seen it like that before although it would be fair to feel pity for something that's whole raison d'etre is to destroy itself.

Originally, when I was planning this painting and I was using free association to generate ideas, words that frequently came up were 'business' and strangely enough 'chicken'. (I suppose the latter comes from the constant pecking and bullying, and I was going to include it in the design of the face as a subtly implied beak but - as they have a habit of doing - plans changed.) As for 'business', I felt that this popped into my head due to the overwhelming power of multinational corporations. There are other links between 'business' and 'The Whisperer' but I'll let you think about that. I intended to represent the business world by the shoulders on 'The Whisperer' suggesting the shape of a suit. Again, this changed - for the better in my humble opinion - and I went for a mask that resembled a city and a pattern of skin disease that is reminiscent of a world map.


You would be correct in thinking that this all sounds a bit grim. It is after all a painting of a mind in deep distress. The positive side for me is that I now know what my rogue internal monologue looks like. Images can be incredibly powerful. I sometimes get thoughts, similar to the ones I mentioned in my previous post, that are trying to beat me down. And, most of the time, this painting comes straight into my mind. 'The Whisperer' has been revealed and I am able to start questioning the thoughts. The depression's power has been reduced because it can't go about its business in secret as it would like to.

When I first had episodes of depression, I had no idea that the illness was influencing my internal monologue to such a huge degree. I believed my thoughts were all 100% mine. So I never even considered the notion that I could challenge these thoughts. The depression had free rein in my head. Now that's changed and I know what the enemy looks like. It may only be a chink in the depression's armour but I'm quite happy to exploit any weaknesses.

For my interpretation of the next painting in the series - 'Stiff Upper Lip' - Click Here.

If you have any thoughts on the above post please leave a comment below:

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