DEPRESSION

A Self Portrait Series

National Park

Last year I created a small series of images that illustrated my experience with depression and anxiety. It resonated with quite a few people, so I felt that it was something I should continue to build upon. I worked on it all semester as part of a portfolio class, and while it was a ton of work, I’m glad I was able to do it. You can see the rest of the images at www.edwardhonaker.com 16x20” prints on 20x24” mats

Mental health disorders are such a taboo topic. If you ever bring it up in conversation, people awkwardly get silent, or try to tell you why it’s not a real problem. When I was in the worst parts of depression, the most helpful thing anyone could have done was to just listen to me - not judging, not trying to find a solution, just listen. I’m hoping that these images will help open up conversation about mental health issues. Everyone is or will be affected by them one way or another, and ignoring them doesn’t make things better.

I created these images a way to express how I felt during the worst parts of my depression. The pictures portray many of the problems that surfaced during this time, like the identity crisis of medicated vs. unmedicated self, others who attribute shortcomings to moral failings, rather than to a neurological condition, the fact that these are problems that I will have the rest of my life, and the regret I feel when I look back at my mistakes, missed opportunities, and ruined friendships.

To a certain extent, I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety all my life, but it was only last year that it exploded into a serious problem. It starts slowly. Gradually I began to have less energy, and everything seemed to become a bit more difficult. I lost interest in all the things that I used to be passionate about. I became irritable, so I isolated myself from my friends in fear I would snap at them. I was just unable to “connect” with anyone else. I didn’t feel any emotions. Getting out of bed became too difficult, so I wouldn’t leave my room for days at a time. While driving, I would earnestly hope that I’d get into a fatal car accident. Over the course of a few months, the suicidal thoughts got more and more serious. It felt as if I were falling into a bottomless pit, and could only watch myself sink deeper and deeper.

At the time, no one was using the term “depression.” All I knew is that I became bad at the things I used to be good at, and I didn’t know why. I was disappointing everyone around me, especially myself. Getting help was terrifying. Because I’ve had these problems my whole life, I would always try to rationalize or ignore them, but to seek treatment meant admitting that these problems were real. It’s not like getting treated for poor eyesight or the flu. Your mind is who you are, and when it doesn’t work properly, it’s scary.

I did end up seeing a doctor, in fear that if things continued I wouldn’t be around much longer. Getting the diagnosis was a mixed bag. It was so relieving to have an explanation for so much of my past irrational behavior, but at the same time, I suddenly had to face all kinds of new problems, while still dealing with all the old ones. It was very difficult trying to articulate the difficulties of these disorders to my family and friends. I was told that I was “just being dramatic,” “just need to try harder,” and “ungrateful because other people have it worse.” It was so frustrating to not have my problems taken seriously - problems that made me want to take my own life. Since I couldn’t explain it with words, I started making photos that illustrate how these disorders have affected me.

The act of making these images has been therapeutic, and painful at times, and they serve as a reminder of how I never want to slip into that state of deep depression again. I feel quite a bit better now, but I don’t think that these disorders are something that can be cured; it’s just something that you have to deal with day by day. There are still days when I feel terrible, but I decided that suicide just isn’t an option; I’ll be sticking around one way or another.

  • pagedeleted

    made my day 🙏.

  • pmd

    so cool, would love to see another story!

  • artofbryce

    Edward, these photos are incredible and thank you so much for sharing your story! I'd love to talk with you about The One Project, where we are creating a global community of people helping themselves and others discover insights for natural, proactive mental wellness through therapeutic photography. It was born out of my own story and series of photos that I used to overcome severe depression and anxiety. I'd love to speak with you more about what we do! bryce@theoneproject.ca

  • gobliss

    Thank you. Your images speak the words that can't be used to describe depression. There's a comfort in them.

  • Darkle

    Poignant. Relevant. Deserves to be more widely seen.

  • ladyrarabra

    An amazingly moving and relatable story. Your photos really capture the essence of it. I especially relate to the family portrait with your face scrubbed out. It is the most frustrating thing in the world when the ones closest to you don't understand what you're going through, and even worse when they don't even try. You are an extremely talented photographer, and while it's never good to go through that, you should be proud of the work that has resulted from it.

  • LapinBlu

    Your work has stuck in my head a long time after I first saw them...emotive, intelligent, honest & beautifully respectful to others in darkness, I really wish you the best for this body of work...it needs to be out there x

  • amourjosette

    Speechless* thank you for capturing this! If you do any thing else this was the best!WOW! You explained it perfectly!

  • ashleighcalvert

    These are just absolutely, utterly, gorgeous. Each image speaks volumes to the emotion and inexplicability of depression. Truly beautiful work.

  • mslittlejeans

    Thank you for being brave and sharing. This felt very true.

  • madibates5

    This made me speechless. Probably the best work I've seen about depression very accurate. Thank you.

  • hhtoo02

    This is so beautiful.

  • Magic0wl

    May your art be your guiding light My heart sends joy to yours ❤️

  • bertie_cavalier

    Thank you 😊

  • rebeccadamhaug

    I can't even begin to explain how beautiful, honest and real these pictures feel. I've never seen anyone capture depression this accurately. These are honestly some of the best pieces of art I've ever seen. Wow

  • chertanner

    I feel your pain

  • BariJ

    Beautiful. I totally understand. I agree, should be more widely seen... I think we should all share it, and I will right now! Thank you for your brave vulnerability and for sharing not just that but your talent with us.

  • Darjas

    Wooow. I'm totally impressed. It's very touching story.

  • TheWilderness

    Ironic I guess to call this "great" - but it is, & important, especially for men, who are expected to be "tough" in such a ridiculous way, all the time. The images here brought forth feelings for me in this last year. Well done!

  • tayenkim

    It's wonderful that you've shared this! I, too, make much of my personal work about mental health. My approach is through humor in my writing and illustration, but I think it's crucial for society to become familiar with this discourse. Thanks for your courage!

  • misseswray

    Bravo 👏👏👏✨

  • Batwoman

    Very beautiful

  • iluvnola2

    Powerful imagery and your words were so Raw!!! Well Done!!!!

  • EarlGreyBlack

    (I hope that you can speak french) c'est poignant, incroyablement touchant et c'est tellement, comment dire y'a pas de mots pour expliquer ce que je ressens devant ça

  • macker

    Be true to yourself.

  • sunnyinpdx

    Powerful, brave, awesome.

  • radicalhippie

    Powerful pictures. I myself know what it's like to have depression. Great job with this story.👏

  • VerucaSalt

    BEAUTIFUL! Page 11's portrait is too coo 💁 You're great, so great 👏🖖😍

  • aledanovaro

    Amazing job!!

  • jnvrncs

    @mserin remember the project?

  • mserin

    @jnvrncs of course. thanks for sharing 🙏🏼

  • lynn_palazzo

    Thank you for sharing your journey through depression , It is so powerful and you have probably helped more people than you know . I have clinical depression too , we learn to live with it because we have to just like someone with diabetes learns to live with their disease . Amazing photography !!!!!

  • iPhoneArtGirl

    Inspiring work!!

  • luckynay

    Lump in my throat, chills...the photos, the words! WOW!

  • mamalizzy

    Very inspirational...I want to cry; for you, for me, for so many others...thank you for your courage~❤️

  • xjdcq

    You are amazing ❤️ keep up the great work, I understand what you went through.

  • siouxree

    i think you are brave and i wish you health! 💪🏼 lovin the images tho! ❤️

  • febytaradiva

    ❤️‼️💯

  • fjollejeg

    I'm so sad to read this. Your photo essay was wonderful. You've managed to illustrate the despair so vividly.. I hope you're better and happy.

  • Rhennhaes

    This has inspired me so much. I am going through this, down to the last pin. I saw one of your pictures when I was searching for art, and I immediately connected with an image. I had to know who made it, and it brought me here. Even though I am still there, this helped me feel accepted knowing I can compare so vividly with someone. Thank you for making this. I hope you are well.

  • Yoladyana

    I am crying to read this story. I surely know what u've been through because I've too. Hope u will be much better 💜

  • amykwilliams

    Thank you.

  • ShannonCannon

    I can relate more than words can describe! Thank you

  • ariansyaharizki

    Oh my god, you created this story so deep.. even some people get lacking life with their depression or anxiety and they don’t know what to do to express their emotions. And some of us know that in the positive way, we are in the process to reaching inner higher self to become more stronger than before. Great job!

  • verdderfan

    🙏🏻💟

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