Ste IllustratesFreelance Illustrator

Drawing out depression

Drawings that make me happy

Focusing on the pencil lines

Drawing to help fight depression

Seventeen - Oh - One - D - my most drawn thing ever

This is a post that I originally wrote a year or so ago – admitting somethings about myself during a bad time, a very bad time. I took it down because a few people told me to stop moaning publicly – that hurt a lot – open up get told to shut up – but it’s a reasonable opinion I suppose, who wants to read the words of a depressed illustrator. Well I’m re-writing it (sorry haters – not really – well maybe yes don’t mean to offend – god damn it – this is depression for you, anyway – still in brackets and writing this instead of backspacing to it) for a few reasons. One being I want to, two I have a hopefully more positive spin as although I’m still a huge ball of self doubt, hate and everything in between – I am trying to get past it and if there’s one activity that aids this it’s drawing.

As the tagline says – I do rather like to draw, and I do – I love drawing its what makes me want to do it as a job. The job part stresses me, frightens me, excites me, compels me and drives me to draw, draw more, draw better just draw. I’ve manage to eek this freelance thing for nearly 3 years thanks in no small part to Mr. Chris Beer and Splinter Design, plus a fair few other nice clients and the support of some good people who have come and gone but are appreciated always nonetheless, none more so at the moment as Ms. Deb Partington and Mr. Marc Aspinall.

Through it all though has been the dark part the doubt, the hate, the irrational feelings, I’ve come to learn more and more people suffer with it but when you’re going through it you feel so alone – totally alone, you’re afraid to bring it up – incase of ridicule or it being brushed off and then you feel like you’re just moaning and you should ‘man up’ as it where, stop complaining if something’s wrong just do something about it. A really take charge suggestion if 99% of your brain isn’t wired to telling you how terrible you are and what a burden you are to everyone and everything. Trapped within an endless cycle with no warning when you can get even further entrenched inside the dark walls of your mind.

I was in the Liverpool Echo (local paper) – I felt really awkward as it would highlight that I suffer from depression – the article was dead nice and said I used drawing to overcome my troubled thoughts, I really just wanted it to be done and over so I could stop highlighting my problems. This I find is one of the worst things about all this you want help – so bad – you want this constant screaming to be silenced but the minute you start talking about it – there’s just so bloody much of it to deal with – you’ve got to express it all, every bit and that’s so so hard because 10 minutes in your like “jeez I’m going on a bit here, oh man nothing I’m saying is worth saying, this is all pointless, I should stop” so you stop and nothing gets sorted. I know I have a lot more to say and express and get out of me to get much, much better but actions help. There are ways of releasing and quietening the screams, it’s a thing or activity you love.

For some it will be painting, sewing, a hobby or like me – using a pencil on a piece of paper to create an image. I used to cycle and every now and then if you hit the right spot between speed and strength you felt like you were flying and it was just you and the wind – the wind cleared your head – it was great. Drawing is the same – you’ve got nothing else in your head apart from the creation of that image. How the pencil lines form on the paper, the feel of the two mediums meeting and the formation of an image that did not exist until a few moments ago, it’s an amazing feeling. The moment is lost you want to just keep swishing the pencil about but you’re also excited to finish so you can stop and admire the work and add touches here and there. If it doesn’t go right, it’s okay (at first) just rub the bits out that aren’t working and fix.

The process of drawing just takes me away from all the troubles it’s one of the best therapies I’ve ever done (I’ve done a fair few) the only down side is when you’re done and the moment passes the dark thoughts come back and start judging the work, but I’m not focusing on that now – I’m finding doing the thing you love doing and doing it as much as you can is a good therapy. Breaking it down, the feelings of fun, excitement, enjoyment are there through the entire process so if you can get to that more often – it’ll be cumulative (that just makes sense to me – after every picture I draw I want to draw another) and soon those feelings will be more prevalent within you so you’re in a better state of mind more often. I can’t help think this mindset is a great place to deal with your own troubles as you’re facing them from a more constructive and ‘glass half full’ perspective. You’re feeling encouraged and inspired to become a better person to not let doubt win but use that doubt to power you to proof that fucking doubt wrong (in your face doubt, I just swore at you!)

So yes I draw and it helps with my depression – I’m being open about it – I suffer from it we all do and we all need to be receptive and help if we can when we can (sometimes help is not wanted and its hard to break through the shell). I know finding what you love is hard – it took me to 32 to get it! But any activity, running, walking, eating toast if it makes you happy and for the moment takes you away and improves your mindset (not your waistline in the case of eating toast – which is great though isn’t it) then I think that’s a good part in the process of becoming the master of your own mind.

If you’re struggling I do recommend The Samaritans & CALM they are very good avenues if you need to talk to someone, I’m also happy to talk if you need an outlet and don’t have one, my email is up there at the top 🙂