Three Questions is a portrait series and social project exploring mental health.
There are lots of words here, if you just want to look at the pictures - please scroll down.
What is 'Mental Health'? Well, lets look at where the word 'Psychology' comes from.
In ancient Greek logia means 'study of' or 'research' and Psyche means 'spirit' or 'soul'.
So Psychology literally translates as 'Study of the Soul'.
The project is predominantly on the subject of depression and began as a cathartic way to creatively express my own severe depression. Through a series of intimate one on one interviews my mission was to understand my own and other peoples depression, its causes and dare I say it - cure, by blurring the lines of a persons subjective experience and objective points of view. By identifying someones personal suffering and exploring the idea of an opposite of that, I've found every person involved to have a unique moment of clarity, as well as an almost passionate duty of love and wisdom toward others... and themselves.
Pretty fucking rad right?
In my experience the root cause of depression is usually linked to the notion of love, albeit lack of. Either lack of self love or love for another, or loss of. To truly explore this we must take into account the concept of time.
Anxiety is a facet of depression but is entrenched in a fear of the future, of an unknowable idea of what might happen to us. Depression however is generally perceived to be about the past, of something that did happen 'to us' (Or our emotional response to something happening). I want to bring that experience into the present, to help in what little way I can by exploring depression, both personally and in our wider circles, so that we may exist in presence, both within ourselves and each other and gain the ability to move forward into the future (and indeed future 'presences') with a better understanding of our own emotions - and each others.
'Three Questions' has been two years in the making and continues today. I began the photographing and interviewing in Bristol, UK where I was living at the time. I’ve since taken it to Iceland and then onto Australia and back to England again.
The process involves subjects sitting for a simple portrait as I begin asking three - even simpler questions;
What is Depression?
What is Love?
What is Life?
These may seem to be transparent, almost immature questions to ask. In the right setting however, at the right time, the answers and subsequent understanding I (or we) have found are undeniably beautiful.
Depression, Love. These emotions do not exist in the physical world, as in; they are not solid or tangible objects that we can relate to as existing without us, they exist inside us. You cannot put them in a jar and label them. You can’t objectively see or touch depression or love. They are concepts, ideas, theories, psychosis', states of being. It's entirely possible that they are both Illusions or illusionary states of mind. Yet to the person experiencing either emotion, they are the most real and physical thing in the world. We make them physical. And life - what is life? No-one has the answer to that. For all we know this thing we seem to exist in and exists without us and which everyone has a theory on, could be as conceptual and illusionary as love or depression.
Bare with me! But if ALL of these things are illusions, if life and all of the things that exists within it, including love and depression are illusions, then they are in fact the realest things in our existence, because that is all we have. Are the contents of a dream worth any less than the dream itself? Or more than? If Life is real and the emotions we experience within it are but byproducts to be ignored, then Love and depression are also the least real. And so, we can therefore view them as a curtain of which we can walk behind and see what exists on the other side.
I want to know what these things are, not so I can just write it down in a book or win an award for proving a theory, no-one can prove anything at this stage in our human existence, if ever, but simply to explore my own Depression, my own Love and my own Life. I can only go so far with my interpretations of these things because I am inherently biased simply by having a mind which is not yours. So what do you do when you want to learn something new? You ask someone else.
This project is a communal exploration of our depression, of our love and our lives as humans. As a species and as beings of emotional experience. This is all we ever are.
The focus of this project is not on the personal stories of my subjects. I do not have the right to share their stories or personal triggers of depression, nor would I want to but, I know many of these peoples stories through the duty of being a friend. I have omitted certain words that pertain to a persons journey from their interviews purely to stick to the aim of the project. Where some people have spoken about their lives and events that relate to a deeper meaning of their words, I have left in. My own story however is a different one. I could not share this project without my absolute honesty or intentions.
I suffer from depression.
At times it is severe clinical depression. Depression has been something I’ve come to learn as being with me since my teenage years. I have coped (or subdued it), (or not) in some way or another for all this time. For me, the foundations of doing this project stem from a number of traumatic experiences in my life that all happened in a short space of time. Losses, deaths, life changing circumstances, health, existential crisis, family, relationships - All that good stuff. But like all stories, they involve other people, people who I do not have the permission, nor the right to share things about. If you meet me in a pub, I’ll gladly regale my personal journey but until then, I can only be as honest or forthcoming as my intellect and respect allows.
Stories are for our friends, ideas are for the world.
The journey of the project though, began with someone else. An impromptu conversation with a friend started it all whilst I was taking his portrait for him to use with his work as an artist. We had had many discussions on the subject of depression throughout our friendship and I realised that at the core of what he was feeling, I was feeling - about completely separate issues, completely different. This time, instead of discussing our own subjective experiences I wanted to objectify the emotion, to look at it conceptually as a thing separate from us, something that exists outside of us, quite clearly because I was the proof of that for him and he was the proof of that for me.
The simplest way of doing that was to ask the question ‘What is Depression?’ ‘What is it to you?’. Not 'Why are you feeling it'? in the sense of 'What is it about'?, but 'Why the hell are either of us feeling it? What is its purpose? How can we not feel it?'
I believe in the quantum theory that everything in existence has its equal opposite, even existence itself. This is proven at an atomic level. If I truly wanted to know what depression was, I was also going to have to look at it’s exact opposite. Perhaps my next question came from the particular struggle of my own depression, perhaps not. I have been to the extremes of depression to the point of deciding to take my own life - and come back. In my opinion there is no where else to go from there. You either do it, and truly earn the moniker of ‘suicidal’, or you survive. A point to mention here is, that at the time I felt this, I never wanted to kill myself, I just didn't want to be alive. There should be a new name for this state I think, something to distinguish between those who feel this and those who end this.
But nevertheless a need existed to shut this 'emotional state' off, to end any emotion, permanently. There is no lower place you can be than wanting to end your own existence, no-where else to go emotionally within your own emotional experience. So if I was to find the opposite of this existence shall we call it, it would have to be equally as extreme in its nature.
There is no-where higher to go than love. No emotion larger. No feeling bigger or purer or all encompassing. Depression is all encompassing. As we've established with suicidal depression, there's no-where lower to go. Had I found my equals opposites? I tested their resolve.
I tried to look for one in the other. There is no depression in love, none whatsoever. People say that ‘hate’ is the opposite of love, but you can never truly hate something without having loved it first. The opposite of love, the thing that is devoid of love, or so it seems, is depression.
Crucially and equally, there is no Love in depression, none that we can feel at the time anyway. No self love, no love for other people. We are vaguely aware of this thing we call love when depressed, for our families, for our friends, but we don’t feel it, especially for ourselves because we are so entrenched in our own suffering for it to register.
You can’t have an accurate test or experiment with only two parameters, especially if they are exact opposites of each other. All you would have is information. You need a third, an average. Depression and Love seemed so extreme that there had to be a tertiary opinion of both that was infinitely bigger than both of them in substance, a conclusion of sorts. I related this to an argument between two people, having two extremes of opinion. Like any argument that seems to be an endless cycle, the only thing that can make any difference is a third person. The person that calms everybody down, who listens to both sides of the argument and helps both of you move on from there with a third opinon. There are always three truths in any argument. Your truth, Their truth and THE truth.
So the next logical question for me to ask was the thing that encapsulates both of these emotions, the arena in which they are fought, the thing that we can describe as being bigger than both the extreme points of emotion.
Well big. Massive. If these two things (Love & depression) exist at the absolute outer rims of our reality and you can go no further than either one on an emotional level, then ‘What the hell is Life? What's it for? Why do we even have these stupid things we call love and depression within this insane thing we call life?'
I had my study. I had three very simple questions, but questions that had the potential to yield extreme depths of emotion and potentially give answers I couldn’t find on my own.
As my friend and I began to shoot our portrait session, I asked him the first question: ‘What is depression?’ He gave a generic answer, one that you could read anywhere. I accepted it and moved on asking the question ‘What is Love?’
He gave another generic answer. As I naturally held the space with my friend, engaging when needed and allowing space when not needed, a process I use with all my subjects in order to allow them to feel completely relaxed and comfortable with me in order to photograph them, I backed away, pretending to fiddle with my camera. As I did I saw him start to think about these two opposing forces and relate them to his own life, to his own circumstances. Instead of me asking what he thought about these things objectively, he began to truly ask them subjectively, to ask himself - but in an arena of openness, of acceptance, of safety. He was asking not what the world thinks these things are but what he himself felt about them. ‘What is my absolute personal depression?’ ‘Why do I feel it?’ ‘Where is it coming from?’
In a tender moment he broke the silence and spoke, almost talking to himself, staring at the floor, staring into his own mind, "Depression is... not accepting... what is happening. Depression is the none acceptance of what is."
Wow. I knew this was important.
"So… If that is the case". he continued. "Then Love is the TOTAL acceptance of everything!"
I saw his entire being light up. He smiled, for the first time in days. A release had occurred. He had accepted what he had been struggling with for all this time. I knew I was onto something, knew He was onto something.
So I asked the question ‘What is Life?’
He gave me what I thought of at the time as another generic answer. But one that has since come to perfectly encapsulated his previous answers, in a truly positive and realistic, healthy and inspiring way.
I knew I had struck gold, both with a beautiful communal moment with a friend, photographically with a portrait I was proud of and potentially fascinating as a project in what it could do for a wider audience, but the true extent of my friends answers that day didn’t hit me until some time later.
I was deep in the pits of a particularly strong bout of depression. Anxiety, fear, agitation, loneliness, anger had all set in. As I gave in to the powerlessness of my own mind I lay down to sleep, knowing that at times this is the only way for me to escape these crippling emotions. As I fall asleep I had some words floating around head. As I gave them more attention they became clearer, more direct. ‘Depression is the none acceptance of what is. Love is the total acceptance of everything.’
Over and over they repeated in my mind. Instead of just listening to them I related them to my current cause of depression, one that I had struggled with for a number of years. I wasn’t accepting something, it was destroying me. I tried accepting it, in its entirety, I looked at my entire situation and gave myself to it, submissive to every facet that had lead to that moment. All of it, every last drop of my utterly depressing situation.
I accepted it.
And all of a sudden I felt a release, a purging, an instant uplifting lightness. Love is the total acceptance of everything! I felt Love! Purely, in its totality of infinite assurance. I basked in the light of my power. A power apparently larger than myself in which I had seemingly tapped into by accepting my life as it was. As it is. Echart Tolles ‘The Power of Now’ finally made sense!
Ecstatic in the notion that my friends simple words had just healed so much pain in me, pain I had struggled to comprehend for so long, I truly understood both the nature and the incredible possibilities of this project. If my friend could do so much for me and my pain, by conceptually talking about his own, in just a few simple words, then perhaps other people could benefit from this. Perhaps I could share their words and different peoples interpretations of their own struggle to help with even more people? Perhaps it all links to the same thing? Perhaps I could communally evolve our ideas and current understanding about what depression is. Not scientifically, not genetically, but right to the heart of the emotional vortex we actually feel, on a day to day basis, as conscious human beings. Perhaps I could heal. Heal myself and heal anyone that read it.
Three Questions was born.
As I’ve passed through my twenties and now into my mid thirties, I looked around me, at all the people in my life, all the conversations, the stories, the phone calls and texts and emails from my friends and I realised that probably 90% of the people I know had clinical depression I was aware of.
There is an aspect of course that we seem to be drawn to people who resonate with us, who understand us and we them, we are energetically bound in frequency. So perhaps I just hang around with a bunch of sad weirdos like myself, or perhaps depression is in fact an epidemic in our society today. That it is not 'normal', not acceptable, but there has to be an acceptance of its existence.
I think we are passed the point of depression being taboo, of raising awareness of depression or mental health on a whole. I think enough of us have experienced it, or know people close to us who do or who have, that in our acceptance of its existence, it is our duty to mankind to do something about it. Not necessarily to cure it, or rid it of our lives, because it obviously can lead us to a deeper understanding, but like cancer, to understand it, to treat it, in whatever way possible, to evolve our human species, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.
As I mentioned earlier I have suffered with severe depression since I was a teenager. It is hard to pin point one thing that may have caused this. I have since gone back into these years through various therapies and healed many instances, if that is possible, yet still the depression rises at different times in my life about seemingly different things, yet it is the same feeling, the same pattern I felt as a fifteen year old boy. Maybe it was social or environmental? High school can be a traumatic time as our brains and personalities - our identities form in a mixing pot of communal insecurity. Maybe it came about at puberty and is in fact a genetic disorder passed through family that had laid dormant and was awakened as the body changed into adulthood? This is something I can neither confirm or deny as doctors, scientists and psychiatrists discover new and vital information about the brain and the physical aspects of depression and its potential treatment. But because of the very fact that I suffer from depression, I am inherently biased in any opinion of it in a clinical study, I would be the subject myself.
However, as much as depression may well be a physical disorder, it is also inherently bound to the realms of emotion. This is something I have a thing or two to talk about. I am a firm believer that whatever exists physically, also exists emotionally. That the outward is the inward and vice versa. An emotion is the physical representation or expression of a thought in the body. I don't think a feeling can exist without an outward expression of it in some form and like-wise, a physical instance that causes a feeling within us. Both exist universally. We are spiritually linked to our physical and emotional existence. Nothing happens without the other. You could call this triangular phenomena: 'Mind, body, spirit.' or 'Physical, Non-Physical, Meta-physical.' Simpler put: 'Knowing, Experiencing, Being.' Or a scientist would call it: 'Energy, Matter, Anti-matter'. Theologians would call it 'The Father, the Son and the Holy ghost.'
It is the Holy Trinity. There is something divine about the number 3.
So ‘three Questions’ is perhaps my clinical study of emotion, for our souls.
I began with someone I knew was, at the time - depressed. I have since spoken with a number of people who I chose specifically, both for their friendship and level of trust and because I knew were either suffering from either at the time or had in the past - from clinical depression. I’ve also spoken with people who I know little to nothing about their personal circumstances. But as I experimented with the different people I know, or have met through this project, I started to see a pattern.
Here are my results:
- What is Depression?
I’d say that depression is the non-acceptance of what is, Identification with what we think should be. You read lots of cures for it on toilet-wall graffiti.
- What is Love?
If depression is the ‘none acceptance of what is’ then Love is the total acceptance of everything! It’s our natural state. The flow of life, suchness. The experience of being one with each other and everything. It's not something to be given or taken away.
- What is Life?
I have no idea what life is but here we are…
Energies in the mystery. Someone wiser told me;
'The important thing about life is life!'
I like that. Life is precious.
- What is Depression?
I have read somewhere that depression is loosing awe and wonder, the ability to sing and dance. Which I agree. I don't mean this in a literal sense!
- What is Love?
Love is being able to put someone or
something first. It’s tolerance and forgiveness and freedoom.
- What is Life?
For me life has always been about as many rich experiences as possible. Live and learn and improve and progress. When I am still and stagnant I should be dead!
- What is Depression?
Depression is at times a state of mind. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to self pity. Many times you think your way into it all by your self. It is dark and lonely.
- What is Love?
LOVE. I have that beautiful word written on my right knuckles and on my left knuckles I have rich - since I’m rich with it.
I could write for days. But at this time in my life I would say I have never found as much LOVE as I do now. I have a 3 month old daughter and I did not think one could feel this much LOVE. My heart skips a beat when she smiles and giggles. And when I held my girlfriends hand at the moment my daughter came in this world my LOVE for her went supersonic. LOVE is finding someone who you trust and can lay all the cards on the table. If the person is still there when you stand naked and vulnerable she/he LOVES you. IT is respecting one another and everything else.
LOVE IS EVERYTHING
- What is Life?
At the end of my life I will know. Today my opinion is that it is about having kids and being a good parent. A few years ago it was about looking flawless and impressing people with my built
The answer to life changes as life goes on. Dream big and you should be OK.
You could say
- What is Depression?
I suppose my best way to describe what it is like is in terms of weather. I'm not sure why, maybe I feel it's a way we can all understand through weather conditions and seasonal change, I think metaphorically it can lend itself well.
It’s like a late evening mist that slowly creeps around and amongst. As the day gets darker, you loose your site but the sense and breath of the mist can be felt touched and breathed in, completely flooding you until you can't breath.
- What is Love?
It is a sense of grounded freedom. It seems a ridiculous concept but it's a constant emotion that changes with and without you. It's free and fluid and can be shared across many people in your life but it is also a comfort a solid pillar that there is always some form of it received wherever you may be.
- What is Life?
It is a motion, a constant movement that can take us to new levels of emotion. To enjoy it you need to feel emotion whether negative or positive. These emotions have to be felt and mixed for us to really feel life at work.
- What is Depression?
I think everyone has depression in their lives. I think people overcome depression everyday, every hour, every minute and some people are better than others at overcoming it.
But in essence it's a feeling that's different to everyone. It’s negative. I think how you deal with it is how you invite it into your life. People deal with depression in different way. Some people perpetuate their own misery and become more and more depressed. Everyone has a certain level of depression in their lives about something. Depression is generally something in your past that happened and that you can’t change. I think if you leave something unresolved it’ll always niggle you. You can either build on that and make it worse or you can try and let it go. I don’t think human beings are very good at letting go. Depression is a thought process.
- What is Love?
Love is the opposite to depression. It doesn’t perpetuate negativity, it perpetuates positivity. Love comes form the heart, not from the head. Love is a chemical reaction. You can love something instantly and it fills you with joy. It can make you cry, but you didn't have to think about that love, it's just there. It isn’t quantifiable. There are different stages of depression. There are no stages of love, it just is. You know when you feel it. You can’t talk yourself into loving something or talk yourself out of it, but you can with depression. It's 100% Joy, 100% happiness all encompassing. Love is the ultimate, it comes from your heart, not your head. Love is a firework going off. I think all human beings have the ability to love. You don’t have to mindfully love something, it's just innate to love. It is our natural state. All humans are capable of love and being loved. It's unconditional.
- What is Life?
Life is everything in-between love and depression, everything that touches the most negative pole and the most positive, everything that you are is life. It is experiences that make you who you are which are filled with both positive and negative, millions of thoughts, millions of reactions.
Life is for living and experience and for learning and how to cope with all those feelings and emotions and reactions, it's how you deal with it. People are their emotions.
I am my emotions. I feel like it's a battle between your head and your heart and sometimes one wins over the other, but there's always that in-between. It's about balancing and controlling your emotions. Life is like spinning plates and choosing which ones are important.
- What is Depression?
It can sneak up on your when you least expect it. Yesterday I spiralled so fast I couldn’t do anything but lie on my bed and think about death. It’s debilitating and forces my whole body to physically shut down. I feel heavy, breathing is too much effort, even pouring yourself a glass of water makes me feel like I’ve done a full day of hard labour. It’s hiding yourself away and ordering yourself pizza, closing the curtains, wearing a mask. Shutting out the world. It’s isolation and self judgement. Everyone thinks that people are judging you but they’re not, you’re judging yourself.
- What is Love?
Love is warm and fuzzies. No words are needed for it. It can be a simple smile, a touch, it’s shared through touch, it’s not surface level. Love doesn’t care what you look like or your bad breath in the morning. It is powerful, infinite. Love is higher than a limited human consciousness. It’s energy and healing. We tend to focus on doom and gloom but love is community, an abundance of positivity. When you feel love you are surrounded by love. It is freedom, freedom from darkness. It’s light, it’s lifting, weightless, It’s cleansing, it’s growth. It transcends and extends the human state of consciousness. It’s free of mind. Being honest and open about how I feel, getting the weight off my chest and being able to communicate with someone like yourself, openly without judgement… Just having you here is potentially a catalyst, for healing.
- What is Life?
Life is existing. I always look at it in a simple way; we’re just a little dot, we’re just walking cells and matter. It is breaking through barriers, overcoming fear, it is making the most of it, achieving. It is impermanent. You might be feeling great today but you’ll hit another road block down the track that you’ll need to overcome, so feeling emotions aren’t permanent, emotions change all the time. Nothings permanent. It’s surprises and just a whole heap of experiences.
I think of being trapped by circumstance within it; childhood, early development, shit parenting, I lacked the things that I deserved. A lot of the suffering I go through now is down to poor early development. That’s very human, whereas love goes beyond that.
I think it’s just called humanity - an evolution. If you battle with depression you spend your whole life trying to evolve beyond that. I think you develop ways to cope and this leads back to nothing permanent so you can’t say that you’re cured of depression. So if thats true then depression is also temporary because I’ve overcome yesterdays dark state of mind. I see glimpses, of achieving the things I want to and get on to the love side of the scale.
I felt happy during the photography session.
- What is Depression?
It’s almost a permanent part of the human state. It’s always in the background, that menace and it depends on a particular day on how you’re able to deal with it. Depression's not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a state of humanity that we need to accept. I think part of the experience of having an intellect is having it in the background. It’s an invitation, the thing that sucks the energy away from you. It pushes you toward inactivity and paralyses you. But I think depression has a place in finding acceptance in the world.
- What is Love?
Love pushes you away from realism. If you want to get philosophical I think there’s different divisions of love. The love that you feel for your family or friends, or a person is different to the love you feel for humanity. Family love seems somehow the strongest because there’s less of a threat to it. What you feel for humanity in a political sense can be shaken when things that affect it are hard to comprehend. For a person love can be a form of madness in my experience because it makes you ignore everything else in the world that you care about and focus on this one thing. In one way, love is terrible because you change your decisions. It feels immediately important and you make sacrifices for it and put everything else on the back burner. Love burns the hottest. That drug like experience is intoxifying. It means I’ll burn down my house to spend ten minutes with a person. It’s a pretty powerful thing. Love is about energy and all forms of love create different kinds of energy.
- What is Life?
Life is the battlefield. Love and depression get to wage war against each other. What’s interesting is that intersection between depression and love as a creative person is where the depression is strong enough to paralyse you but you have a enough energy from the coals of love to power you to do something. It’s where poetry comes from. You get some pretty interesting art from this place, historically speaking. In some ways life is neutral. It isn’t necessarily inherently good - the tick, the spider, the disease is part of life as much as the baby tiger, the koala and the happy kids.
In life, when love is winning you embrace life and you have that feeling of ’I can’t get enough of this’, and when depression is winning you embrace Thanatos. Thanatos is in Greek mythology the personification of death. There’s something appealing about death. When someone jumps out of a plane there’s a thrill about possibly dying. It’s not necessarily bad. Coming to grips with it can bring people to peace or, if you’re old, there's peace at the end, there's an end to pain. When love makes you feel like you never want it to end, the Thanatos mythos pushes you towards acceptance and peace. Life gives you a limited shot. There are things you can only do when you’re younger, coming to terms with that gives you the ability to register those realities. It can help with acceptance, but also make you feel shitty. I think depression and love can both distort reality and you kind of need to combine the two to find the truth. Depression can make things seem all awful and love can make things seem all beautiful. We have to take elements of both to be at peace with ourselves.
- What is depression?
I guess I’ve heard the intellectual description of depression being anger directed inwards. But from my own experience as well, I would have to say at the core of it is a division within oneself, a psychological division with ones being. A division between two states of being? There's a gap between what thought perceives and the reality of what’s happening. Almost a skewed reality and it can manifest in a lot of ways. When I was in my twenties there was always a depressive undertone in my life that I was trying ignore and then it all accumulated when I was thirty one into a huge obvious depressive breakdown. With that was a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety and a total disconnection of reality. My main thing to say about depression is to get help, just find someone to talk to, a friend, a family member or a professional, because there's so much help out there and that’s what helped me - Allowing myself to be vulnerable, to say that I do need help. Meditation helped, it turned my life around. Meditation helped as a last resort. Do anything if it can buy you some more time.
- What is Love?
I’ve been thinking about love a bit lately. From what I can tell I’m not sure it's even personal. It’s something that's happening and that’s there and we kind of get in the way of it. I think I can say what love isn’t, but I don’t think I can say what love is. I don’t want to fuck it up. I think it exists anyway, always, regardless of if we interact with it.
I’d say it is a connection with reality, with life itself. Who’s to say what's real, but love feels like a direct connection with life. I’m not too sure if love even has an opposite.
With many opposites in life; Politics, left and right wing - they both seem to be just as angry as each other or doing as much damage. Believing in God or not implies there is always a choice, that I’m on one side or the other. People who believe in God or don’t think that they’re on the opposite subject but, really they are the same movements of thinking.
- What is life?
I would have to answer that with a question and ask 'Are we ever disconnected with life?' As long as I’m breathing and circulating my body am I ever truly disconnected from life, regardless of where my mind goes? I think life is it’s own purpose. I can’t quantify it. I can never for a second let anyone know what life is. There is no way I can know other than a cliche. The purpose of life is to live it. Being a depressive person, living with hate, is that what life is? Or is it a dead end road? That’s not living, your not living.
- What is Depression?
There’s so many facets of depression and so many differences. Sometimes it’s so subtle that a person may not even realise they feel it where as other people it consumes their whole life, I’d relate it to a darkness.
When I was younger it felt very consuming. In later years it feels more subtle, it’s not all the time and I think that’s lucky for me. I try and pull myself out of things earlier before it gets to a darker place. I think I’m better at that now and am able to pull myself out and I’ve found ways around it.
- What is Love?
That’s somehow a harder question to answer. Love is everything in a way and is another thing that can be all consuming. I Love that love comes in so many different ways; Little ways, friendships and can lead to that love that everyone's looking for.
It can always be there but people are still looking for it if your expectations are too high. There’s a lot of it around, it depends how you see things. New love can feel a bit heavy. There’s a responsability that comes with love and caring for someone. It’s not necessarily a bad weight, but it is a weight, especially with friendships and family. It can be intense, passionate and consuming.
Love is harder to explain than depression. It’s something that’s just there and can’t be taken for granted. Depression is not as taboo which is great.
The love that everyone's looking for, or that I subconsciously am is someone who puts you first, who challenges you, a partnership., It’s an all powerful lightness. It’s overpowering, strong. If you feel it, you feel it. You can try to talk yourself out of depression. You don’t want to talk yourself out of love, it’s a nice place to be. Some people won’t even experience depression or experience love and you can’t measure it to anyone else, it’s your own experience.
- What is Life?
Life is everything jumbled up. Depending on your mood or your day, when you ask it’s always going to be a different answer to what’s important because it fluctuates. At the moment I’m just coasting along, not thinking about the grand scheme of things, just cruising. But if you asked me 6 months ago I’d have a different answer to now, and another one in 6 months from now. It’s movement, change, always moving. Everything is still happening around me whether I choose to accept it or not, and I’m right now I’m going slow. At times things feel too fast.
- What is depression?
Black dog. It’s constricting and totally debilitating. Depression is within you, a lack of self love. It’s a misguided understanding of the world. It can be like a fire through which suffering can cleanse you, but you have to come out the other end for it to manifest in that way. Depression can make you think about things in a more realistic way, simply because the reality is more beautiful than the depression could allow you to believe. Therefore, learning that can be a blessing. I think that depression is an emotional disease.
- What is Love?
Love is the spiritual glue that connects everyone to each other and to God. It is possibly the most powerful force known to man. Love conquers fear. Love is a way of life. Essentially I believe there are two forces at work within the human psyche, fear and love. Often our world teaches and binds us with fear and only love can heal this. I think that love is bigger than an emotional disease, I think it’s light. I think love is bigger than happy, sad, excited depressed. It works in the way light or sound works as in; It doesn’t exist unless it’s moving through something, so love is more like energy, it doesn’t exist without you.
I think that love is like, a war, love is a weapon, love is the answer, the tool. It doesn’t really manifest unless you let it, therefore it doesn’t exist without you. It can be bigger than you, or outside of oneself but it takes you to manifest it, create it, to surrender to it.
- What is Life?
I’d like to say that it’s necessary to have the contrast in forces, but part of me can’t really justify that. Because there’s too much darkness in the world for me to justify a holistic summary of human existence. The darkness seems too powerful in this world at times. That being said, Love can make it all make sense. I think through relationships, primarily. Self love is also beautiful. I’m here to leave the world a slightly better place than when I got here. And I’m going to use love and music to do that. But I really think that life is us coming closer to God and to do that we have to come closer to each other. And I don’t mean any religious God, I mean the God of love and light, that which we are formed in the image of. So it’s through love we achieve and find our purpose.
I think the greatest thing one can do is to truly be themselves. I think that who you are and your time here - even though it’s short, is entirely a gift to us. It’s a gift that needs to be respected and used to it’s full potential. I think that people often fail to see or believe in their potential. This is almost always due to fear. So that’s how love is the weapon of the internal war and it’s the cornerstone of our spirit. I kind of believe that people are meant to be who they really are. Most of the time we fail to achieve this. And failure is important and lack of self love is what lets us down. I think that all the struggle in the world can be mirrored by a struggle within oneself. And the battle of love and fear is an internal one and a lot of people find it hard to accept that this journey of the heart and mind is the real journey of life, rather than that which you can see or touch. Love is metaphysical. We’re spiritual beings. I’d go as far to say we’re more spiritual beings than physical beings. This body is just a shell and the world - in all its beauty, is just a complex, almost a complex algorithm through which we experience, life.
I think that the moral struggle of humans sets us apart from most of nature, if not all of nature. I can’t think of another creature that has this internal battle of fear and love. I think through love you can place value or see the value in all creation. In my most honest moments I believe that humans are the envy of the gods. Humans actually are the spiritual centre of the universe, because we’re spiritual beings - in a physical world. I definitely think there are other spiritual beings, but they’re spiritual beings in a spiritual world. We’re the only ones who fight both spiritual and physical battles. Animals fight battles, but this is for survival. I’m not saying animals don’t love, but let’s say our battle is for self love. It’s through self love that we find presence and therefore honour our existence and be the wonderful person we were made to be.
- What is Depression?
For me it is always the gap between the ability to be in the moment and the image in my mind of what I should be.
My bipolar cycle is weekly. I’m highly productive, have lots of energy and then I get tired, which means I can’t achieve at the same level and then I get depressed. The symptoms are self loathing, judgment, fear, anger, aggression and confusion.
Perhaps it’s like I’m grieving. The image I have in my mind of what my life should be in that moment and I have to grieve that and accept it. I’m finding I get better faster if I can get to acceptance. You don’t need to self grieve or deny oneself or be angry, just accept it. Don’t fight the reality of your emotions, go to the reality of where they are coming from.
I’m learning. If I want to be a highly successful artist and business woman, I’ll keep fighting until I achieve that. In order to do that I have to have practical things in place. It’s ok not to answer my emails for 2 days for example. If I ride off of the strengths of that cycle, I rest within it. Once I find balance, then the next phase is working out how to give to other people, to have a romantic relationship where I can actually give from myself. My first priority is to get myself sorted right now, but I retain hope and that’s important.
In my darkest hours, the one thing I hold on to is a sense of hope. I just tell myself to hold on. I always have hope in the idea of gaining new knowledge that will give me the answers. That’s the one thing I hold onto. I may not know the answers but I know the answers will come.
- What is Love?
That's an interesting one at this time in my life. I feel angry about that question. That makes me teary and makes me want to say ‘fuck you’. There’s something inside of me that is excited because I’m realising there’s something that is becoming unlocked, in order to realise what Love actually is, in all of its forms; Self love, love of friends, because love is fucking terrifying because it can just disappear at any moment.
The sunlight that’s coming through the key hole is that love is fun and light and beautiful. I recently joined a choir and there’s so much love in the choir. There’s so much love , vulnerability, joy strength, that’s love! They’re the things I’ll be seeking in my next romantic relationship. Humility, humanity, the capacity to show your imperfections. That choir is a metaphor for love. You’re allowed to be weird and bring your full imperfections to the table and that’s when you get rewarded, with acceptance and celebration, but you’re not going to get that unless you bring your full self to that moment and show them that you’re into that moment. Show your ability.
I’m an evidence based human being. I rely upon evidence in order to agree or disagree or follow anything. Since the dawn of time we have evolved, the earth and humans have evolved. There is perpetual motion of life. Growth is an element of life. If we can hang in there another day, we are automatically going to grow, for sure, based on concrete scientific evidence that there is motion in the very nature of being alive.
It connects to Gnosis. This is a greek word, and a beautiful concept which is knowledge gained through doing. You can only gain this certain knowledge by doing. So often the only way through ‘is’ through. You can’t avoid it or go around it,. I avoided it with drugs and sex and work and you cannot avoid it. You have to go right into the bleeding heart of it. That’s courage. It’s terrifying but exciting at the same time.
I think that faith is all fed by having more knowledge of humanity now. My work is centred on that on the meaning of life and how we gain meaning. I’m now so connected to human beings, either directly through my work of through the research I do that the evidence shows me that the human being is incredibly complex. Everyone is the same, everyone is trying to find this purpose.
My darkness is their darkness, my light is their light. I’m starting to see a connection. And it’s such a gift. It seems the more fucked up you are, the more amazing things can come out of you. If you’re in a really fucked up situation, oh my god you’ve been given treasure! Don’t waste it, it’s a gift. I have Bi-polar and I celebrate my mental illness. It’s made me more connected with community. As soon as I began to openly look at it objectively, I felt a part of something. I’m connected to people, I matter and I haven’t ever felt that in my life because I’ve been afraid of connection. Now I’m letting that happen and it’s terrifying, but the reward is you have meaning in your life, there’s a reason to stay alive.
- What is Life?
That's a good question and I ask myself it every day when I wake up. What is the purpose of my life? I will always ask this and continue to ask this. In my darkest times, I thought: Why the fuck is it so hard and complex and challenging? Why does that guy have it easy and I don’t? This can’t be right, it shouldn’t be like this. But I realised and it’s brought me great relief, that it simply has to be complex to be worth living, to be engaging and liberating.
I’ve realised that I can’t compare to anyone else, that I’ve had all these things put on my plate that makes my life harder… I’m not saying poor me or poor you, There are different lots. I’d like to find out more why people in Syria have their whole life bombed away and I sit here talking about mental illness and my life and that I’m incredible lucky. We’re all built perfectly on the inside. The construction of our heart and mind and spirit is an exact perfect stunning sacred blueprint or reflection of the life that we see in front of us, right here in the moment.
So the times when I can’t handle what’s going on, I’ve had to realise I can handle it, there is no choice and that’s faith.
I’m starting to discover personal peace because I’m accepting that I’m a serious mother fucker with a serious brain who likes big serious, intense vulnerable things and I’m not going to deny that any longer, and I am also much happier by doing that. My life goes in an easy, free way. The right people come in. If you see a person who is dying and who is not accepting that they are dying, they are wasting their final breaths by being angry.
Acceptance is the key thing that you want to find. People who I work with, who are dying and whohave accepted that have a level of peace of what any human beings seeks to find within their lifetime. The mastery of the self, it relates to Buddhist concepts, ‘Our greatest enemy is ourselves.’ I think life is a stunning risk that we may choose to accept.
What gets me through is a simple line… ‘Just keep going.’
- What is Depression?
Well, yeh, I suffer from it. I think it has something to do with a creative mind. We delve into every kind of space in our psyche and our minds.
The journey that you take when you're heading towards something creative, that road is a form of happiness. When you think that your not on a road or don't have a goal toward a certain point, then depression can set in, I think as human beings we need to be paving forward and that perceived sense of not going anywhere is depression. That feeling of worthlessness and not moving is you realising that you’re still. You don’t know where to move, where to go, it’s all in your mind. It’s like being stagnant. A stagnant frame of mind.
When I have a mission and objective or a goal I'll just keep going until I get to it, to the point where it's possessive but having that goal keeps me going forward. But when I achieve those goals sometimes the space between having another goal are the dark days. The dark days are the moments in between the motion of goals.
Creative people can't stop and when they have a perceived sense of stopping... If they're not on a journey or a path to something, they become depressed because they know they're infinitely capable of anything but they don't know what the fuck to do. But if you understand that, and are aware of it, you can move on and ride those dark days out. You just have to accept it. Sometimes I feel worthless, like I'm wasting my time and that's hard, but it's just how it is.
It's the time between new phases, between the spark of a new idea, it's the beginning, the space before something new, that could be depression.
When you fight against it, that's where anxiety comes from. Putting pressure on yourself to perform, even socially.
You can be in such a hole where you won't go out, but you need to be social.
It's learning to be intuitive, learning to listen. Because there's still good things going on, good and evil going on, even when you're dark and you need to be aware of those moments a lot more when your experiencing it and act upon them, by using your intuition.
When your intuition stops talking to you, that's depression. And you know what, that might just mean that your 'good' that your good for now, that your coasting, take your hands off the handle bars and coast and wait until you get to the next town and you'll know what you're doing but we don't, we need to know what we're doing all the tine. And who can tell you, or give you the skill, no-ones going to stop that. We're all going to go through that, we just have to learn to be ok when our intuition stops talking to us and accept the silence.
You blind yourself by wallowing in the silence.
But that is intuition again. That's the meaning of life, when you reach a point of silence, it's you being intelligent enough to realise that you only need to take action at that point and everything else will follow. So when things become silent, take action - and don't think about it. Be present in whatever situation you're in.
Wondering is not good, wondering about things that don't exist or scenarios is not good, wondering about something positive is fine because your manifesting it, but you can also manifest negatives and I think you just have to catch yourself out when your manifesting negative thoughts and when it gets out of control. That's why people kill themselves. It's just nothing but negative thoughts for days and days and it's hard to even know what to do sometimes, but even just being aware of it helps.
habitual patterns is what causes a mundane existence and the sense of your existence being mundane is what causes depression.
But really, even when your doing the same thing everyday, it's not the same. We think it is but it's not. It’s a different day, everything’s different, everything's brand new, you’re just trapped in your head thinking it's the mundane but it’s not. Even lately I was going so well and then I started to think negatively and feeling worthless, but I just realised all I need to do is just jump on the bus, and get on with life and all these things will fall into place. I'm manifesting right now, all these things are manifesting, I just need to be happy in the silence... It's patience. And patience is a big lesson to learn. I'm inpatient but just talking about it now I already feel more patient. Breathing is a good thing for this.
One of the lead causes of depression is thinking.
- What is Love?
Love for life. The passion to live comes from creativity. It comes from the same plane as depression, because depression is the road that is being finalised, that seems to be none existent and then love is when your walking on it. When you’re on the treadmill, on the road walking towards something in motion, that's love, but when you stop and there is no direction, there's no horizon or anything to look forward to, that's depression.
Love comes from movement, it comes from action. It comes from intuition, and it's what keeps our spirit strong. The other thing with love is, it has a lot to do with following your true nature and being in touch with who you are. Sometimes if I'm travelling and I know I'm on the right path and doing the right thing, there's no better feeling than that, doing what you're meant to be doing in your life. That is love, it’s freedom. It's your own inner freedom and how can you not have a smile on your face when you feel that way?
- What is Life?
The point of life is love. To find what your purpose is and wallow in that. Which isn't that easy because I know what my purpose is but it holds a load of new sets of challenges and you get fucking depressed. Life is learning how to live with the darkness and with the light and being ill affected by it. So in a Buddhist sense, life is suffering and I agree with that because things can be so amazing and there's always a flip side to that of things being horrible. So life is light and dark.
I remember doing a residency in New York working in a studio, following my intuition, painting in the studio. I felt like I was on a spiritual mission. I get to the studio, listen to my music, I’d let myself go free, that is happiness, it taught me that that is what life is. Life is surrendering to what your purpose is and it's actively seeking moment to moment what is right for you. I remember I wrote something on the wall, life is light and dark, trying to get a handle on both those things.
I've been in tune with myself a lot. When I was a kid I'd draw and when I realised I could draw there was no better feeling than that, it was one of the biggest highs, I surprised myself with a talent that was a euphoric feeling. I could achieve anything I wanted so anything is possible. I think in life you get these pearls now and again on the way but you need to be willing to risk it all, to take risks and really just follow your intuition.
Everything's a spiral or a cycle, there's going to be a lot of things that test you on the way, like death, it's never easy, but then... The worst thing you can do is not to follow what you're meant to do, it’s to ignore your intuition.
We're all connected and if your putting out these wandering thoughts your gonna get stuff back, including the negative so you have to be careful. You're setting your own direction which is void of any influence and that is happiness because it's unique, and we're all unique and we all have that ability but a lot of us cling onto other people. Really we all have the power to do our own individual thing and as soon as we find that we’re free and we’re detached from everything and everyone, then we're essentially God, we're all God, we all have the ability to be God.