How Depression Destroys Relationships: My Interpretation of 'Skin the Shine of the Rain' Par
If you missed part 1, where I discussed the ways in which depression does its best to destroy relationships and you would like to read more, Click Here.
As I've mentioned previously, my paintings are all snapshots from a larger narrative. As such, events have occurred before the image and more will take place afterwards. So let's rewind back to the beginning.
Healthy relationships are great. They make us more than we can be on our own. And that is exactly why depression tries to break them. I imagine a healthy relationship as a black tube that connects the two people. I'm not exactly sure why; it's something that sprang forth from my subconscious during a free association session. The tube is made from - get ready for the technical bit - a super scientifical type material that can bend, stretch and has such a high bouncy-bouncy factor that it can repel most things that try to attack it. (Phew, that's the incredibly difficult PHD level sciencey stuff out of the way.) Normally, this tube cannot be seen, but its physical effects are very real. It connects two people, helping them to be happy, strong and fulfilled. It helps us get through the tortuous and dangerous road of life.
But, as you've found out from previous posts, depression is a sneaky little tinker. Let's take a look at how it tried to destroy one of my relationships. With surgical precision it sent in one of its stealthy minion creatures - for want of a better name let's call it 'The Surgeon' - who injected a nano poison into the healthy relationship tube. (Oh no. More science.) The minuscule nanobots set to work and changed the molecular structure of the normally fluid material, making it brittle and inflexible. The Surgeon then got busy tearing apart the weakened relationship tube. It skittered over the surface, camouflaged against the wreckage, defying gravity as it systematically searched for weak points. Neither the other person nor I realised that the creature was there and yet its presence was certainly felt.
The Surgeon is a cunning general and it enlisted depression's other underlings to assist it in its heinous task:
This lovely lady lent a helping hand by leading me down a path of withdrawal and voluntary isolation.
And The Whisperer doled out his usual obliging advice by pointing out my worthlessness and generally unpleasant nature. Due to the black and white thinking that becomes prevalent when I get depressed, I jumped logically to the fact that the other person would be better off without me. From my point of view the other person is walking away to a far brighter place. Without me. Hence the rays of light shining on to the pristine city in the distance, where the storm appears to be abating.
The Surgeon then completed this process by encouraging me to sever ties to the other person, and to do this by any means necessary, however cruel and manipulative they may be.
Now that we've looked at the overall theme, let's get down to some details.
In the composition, I split the painting into three sections. The Surgeon is in the darkest, murkiest portion to represent the state of my mind. As I discussed in the previous post, at times like this my thoughts are indistinct and confused. The methods of The Surgeon are very clinical and yet its process was certainly unclear to me while it was happening. The middle section of the image is less stormy and shows the distance developing in the relationship. The final part shows the other person walking away in the brightest part of the image. Bear in mind that this is from my perspective; the other person may feel quite differently.
When designing the creature, I showed the black and white, binary nature of my thoughts that becomes the norm when I'm depressed. I created it so that it was there and not there; spaces exist within its body. It is also very cold and clinical in a similar manner to ones and zeroes. I wanted The Surgeon to be incredible powerful and yet have little bulk to enable it to be stealthy. I decided on the idea of muscles that were as strong as bones. This allowed me to dispense with the creature's skeleton and leave the gaps within its structure.
I evoked the feeling of a battlefield by suggesting warlike banners tied to The Surgeon at various points. These banners were made from flayed skin, hinting at a particularly cruel form of torture. Again, these ideas came from my initial free association phase.
When designing the head of the creature, I took inspiration from Janus, the Roman god of, amongst other things, beginnings, transitions and endings. He is usually depicted with two faces, one looking to the past, the other to the future. The Surgeon also looks in two directions: one face looks back at the past in despair, knowing what is happening to the relationship and wanting desperately for it to stop, the other face looks to a future of destruction, furiously ripping and tearing to create its vision of solitude.
But things are also happening below the surface. The Surgeon works on both the conscious and subconscious levels and I showed this by having the composition of the image attack the relationship too. Look at the way that the two lamp posts spear the tube and also the huge cross that is made directly over it, by the single lamp post and the barrier of the bridge. The relationship is being attacked on all fronts. It really is a crafty little fellow.
Turning the painting upside down was one of those lucky accidents. When I first did it, it gave me the perfectly apt feeling of dizziness and hanging on for dear life. When many people look at this painting, they want to turn it upside down so that it is the "right" way up. That's exactly what I wanted to do with my life. And it wasn't that easy. I had a tenuous link to the real world. The depression thrived in those conditions - that's why The Surgeon is the correct way up - but I felt as though I was falling. So I put in a small suggestion that gravity works differently in the final third of the painting. In the middle section, which is further away from The Surgeon and altogether more peaceful, the rubble can clearly be seen falling towards the bridge in the usual fashion. However, in contrast, I imagine that the huge chunks in the bottom right hand corner of the image continue to fall up (or should that be down?) into the sky and finally the darkness of space. So now you can appreciate why I would be hanging on for dear life. My legs turn to jelly at the thought...
I'd agree with you if you're thinking that this all sounds a tad on the grim side. But rest assured that The Surgeon doesn't always win, my wife is testament to that. So I'll leave you with a quote from the Greek philosopher Epicurus, the silver lining so to speak:
“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
For my interpretation of the next painting in this series, 'I'll Walk Into Your Parlour', Click Here.
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'Skin the Shine of the Rain' are available from my shop: