A quick google search for ‘depressed eyes’ returns, to my amazement, eyes filled with anguish. Blubbering eyes, welling up with pain and steeped in comically exaggerated grimaces.
I find this perplexing.
Sure, depression for me has involved episodes of this pained expression, but for the most part, it’s something altogether worse. Something far more alarming, sinister and uncanny.
It’s the deadness. The total lack of spirit. The unending, unfathomable pit in the pupil, which reaches into the abyss.
For me, depression in the eyes is captured by a total lack of light. Like unspeakable black opals of drowning depth.
It’s one of the best ways I can tell if someone is drowning in anhedonia, the symptom of a total loss of enjoyment in life. You don’t have to ask someone, you can see it there, in their eyes.
I think having persistent depression is part of the reason I look into people’s eyes when I speak to them. They give away so much on the face. I have always become fixated by them as a well of emotional information. A font of pain, joy and intent.
The photo you see at the beginning of this post is my face a few years ago. My depression has been persistent and in some ways, it is worse than it was at the time I took this picture, but I am also working much harder to tackle it than I was back then.
I notice the emptiness, the exhausting droop that has always been characteristic of my sloping lashes. I notice the unfocused, drowning brown iris and the tired pucker of my lower lash line.
I suppose I wanted to make a point in this post, that depression as characterised by the internet or the media is so much more dramatic, superficial and comical than it is in reality. It fails to observe the sinister absence of presence, the artificialness of gaze, the ‘nobodies home’ glaze that really depicts the illness.
I think this is what frustrates me about perceptions of depression as an illness, as if it is personified by the ugly mask of tragedy, comedies miserable brother, when in fact, its depiction appears far closer to comedy than true misery.
How can we win more support for depression, more seriousness and thoughtfulness, when we are bombarded by ludicrous, sensationalised and dramatic visual depictions of it?
The fact that images of blubbering and anguish pervade the search terms suggests we have a long way to go before people begin to really understand what depression entails and how those who cope with it chronically have experienced it.
Depression is sometimes sadness and crying, I’ll admit that, but it goes so much deeper than that. It’s an affinity with death that the living who have not felt it’s dark grasp, will struggle to ever understand. For how can we understand death, unless we no longer feel alive?