In the dark that is sorrow,
In the heart that is bled,
She comes as a lover
To your funeral bed.
Her caresses bring comfort,
Numb the ache in your veins,
Her kisses bring solace
To silence your pain.
Surrender is easy--
No more will to resist,
But her passion is poison--
You must know only this:
In her touch you will find
Neither rest nor release--
In the arms of despair
You will find no peace.
I started this painting over a year ago (in August of 2012), inspired in large part by someone very close to me who suffers from major depression (untreated, sadly). Watching this person completely give up on life--not by suicide, but by just...not living--has been painful for me to watch, especially knowing there's very little I can do myself to "fix" it.
Conversations became circular:
"There's no point. I just don't care anymore."
"I understand, and I wish I knew how to help you, but I don't. If I make the arrangements, will you talk to someone?"
"I don't want to talk. I just don't care."
"But you can't get better if you don't at least try."
"I don't care enough to try. It doesn't matter anyway--nothing will change"
"If you don't do something other than what you've been doing, it's absolutely certain nothing will change, but if you try something, things at least
"I doubt it. It doesn't matter."
"Do you want to feel this way the rest of your life?"
"I don't care. There's no point. It doesn't matter."
At the time I started this painting, these kinds of conversations (and far more intense ones, too) had been going on for nearly two years without much variation, and I was at a loss. I began to think of depression almost like a seduction--a mistress who whispers in your ear that all you have to do is let go, give up, submit, and all the pain, all the fear, all feelings of any kind will just go away, so you can be numb, be free, not have to care or feel or want or hurt. And all of that sounds like a release, and so you let go, only to find yourself in another kind of hell made of apathy, with your heart still longing for peace but without the will or ambition to do anything else. It's a vicious cycle, and if you manage to summon the strength to resist, the pain comes rushing back, and the voice of despair whispers in your ear again that the pain will go away if you just give in, let go...and though you may not want to, you do, because the whisper seems so soothing, and it's so much easier to just surrender and let her take you down again, where there is no pain...and the cycle begins again.
In the past year, the person above has made some strides in beating the depression, though there's still a long road to go. I finished this painting partly for this person that I love very much, and partly for another loved one who struggled with depression and bipolar disorder for years before taking her own life nearly three years ago. I also finished it partly for myself, because I've also heard the seductive whispers of despair in my ears, and at times I've even given in and let her take me down with her--but somehow I've always managed to change my mind, resist, and fight my way back again before I was too deep in apathy to care anymore. But I've seen how easy it is to get lost in the false promises of peace without feeling, and how hard it is to get out again once you've fallen into that darkness.
See close-up detail shots:Technical details: Photoshop CS5, Wacom Intuos 3 tablet, original size 12" x 18" at 300 dpi (3600 x 5400 pixels). Prints are available--see the button at the top right.