In the early stages of my writing and research efforts, I spent a great deal of time on the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website, contemplating their interpretation of depression, which at the time of writing, was as follows:
“A major depressive disorder-usually just called “depression”-is different than the “blues”. Someone experiencing depression is grappling with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time. Almost every aspect of their life can be affected, including their emotions, physical health, relationships and work. For people with depression, it does not feel like there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’-there is just a long, dark tunnel.”
Reflecting on my own experience living with, and healing in depression, I had a difficult time relating this disorder to the figurative context of a “…long, dark tunnel.” What this means to me is that there are only two directions to go: to the left or the right. So I envision myself sitting in this dark tunnel, feeling lost, and uncertain as to which direction to go.
Furthermore, the anatomy of this “dark tunnel” was not defined, and in the absence of any conceptual understanding about the facets that make up this mental disorder, it remains a dark, mysterious place. In my opinion, this figurative depiction of depression serves as a catalyst for hopelessness.
Personally, I didn’t think that this was an effective depiction of a disorder that is so misunderstood and stigmatized.
This inspired me to reflect on my own experience and conceptualize what depression would look like if you could see it and touch it. I wanted to construct a perspective that could help people better understand what it is like for someone struggling in this disorder, or perhaps someone who is experiencing like symptoms or even someone who has never experienced depression. I wanted to shine light on that ‘dark place’ in depression.
My goal was to create a conceptual understanding of depression, one that fosters learning, understanding and acceptance in this disorder. I wanted to create such a place that would serve to alleviate, or perhaps even help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. And I especially wanted to create a perspective in this disorder that shows there is a way out of this dark place, that a ladder exists leading up and out of this deep well…that there is a way to overcome symptoms of depression.
My “Deep Well of Depression” perspective was born. Evolving from this were its features, which in the figurative context I describe as the the anatomy of the deep well of depression.