Looking Back

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At the end of summer 2016, I was sure of the fact that I wanted my Final Major Project to be personal, and reflecting my own journey of self-discovery. I scribbled the above note about some pivotal moments in my life that have made me, me. The reason I did this is because, I didn’t just want whatever I made to lack depth, I knew I’d have to search within myself for purpose and meaning. So there you have it: the beginning of ‘The Layers’. 



Overgeneralisation: Cognitive Distortions

How you think can have a lasting impact on mood, and it can influence one’s view of reality , as our world is reflected by our thinking. When we become self-critical with negative thoughts, this can lead us to a negative image of ourselves.

The term ‘Overgeneralisation’: refers to viewing a negative event as a pattern of your life. Because of the fact we connect new experience to past ones, it is common for us to generalise based on our past experience.

An example in ‘The Layers’, is in when Andie is cooking and she is being distracted by Alison. Alison, who is Andie’s ego, rips pages of a book more and more frantically, which makes Andie irritated to the point of stopping what she’s doing, to tug the book out of Alison’s hands. Andie becomes upset because of the tempered way she is provoked by Alison. Thus, Andie believes that she is a failure because Alison is able to easily wind her up.

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Above: Andie feeling defeated

Another example of Cognitive Distortion is ‘Arbitrary Influence’. An example is during the office scene, where Andie believes she is incompetent, due to the fact that she struggled to pick up the phones in time. This thought is further reinforced, when Jessica rescues the situation by answering the phone, which causes Andie to believe that she’s a failure. This is illustrated by Andie not being able to carry on with her work tasks, and hunching over.

An additional example of Cognitive Distortion is ‘Personalisation’. Another example in the office scene, is when Andie believes that her supervisor is cross with her, because when she enters the room, she seems cross, by the stern look on her face, and authoritative entrance.  When in fact, there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that the supervisor was cross solely with Andie. Even though she instructs Andie to complete a task for her, she walks away, distracted by her phone- signalling that there were other things she needed to which had more priority. Therefore, the supervisor could have just been busy, and not necessarily cross just with Andie. In actual fact, the supervisor could have had the most trust in Andie, so that’s why she instructed her with the task, and not the others. This is also an example of ‘Selective Abstraction’- feeling responsible for a cross person, even though Andie is just one of the colleagues in the office that’s a part of the work atmosphere. 

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Above: Andie feeling like a failure

This incident is also an example of ‘Magnification and Minimisation’. Magnification is illustrated by Andie believing in the worst case scenario, and minimisation is putting aside the fact that Andie could be the most valued worker, and doesn’t believe she is worthy of success. 

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Above: Andie believing that she is responsible for making her boss cross


Sharpley, C. (2013). Understanding and treating depression. 1st ed. Prahran, Vic.: Tilde University Press.

Depression’s Impact On My Life

How have you thought about the impact of depression in your life over a long period of time?

I was diagnosed with Manic Depression in 2011, when I was 16 years old. In a way, I was relieved because I finally had a label for how I was feeling. But also, I felt restricted by the term. Because even though there was a name for it, it didn’t truly describe everything I was feeling.

Do you feel it’s a part of your identity as a person, or more like a problem peripheral to the core concerns of your life?

I don’t like to identify myself with Depression, because there’s so much more to myself, than this illness. Looking back, I realise that a lot of the concerns I had throughout my life have been triggers for my Depression. But it also comes out of nowhere, unexpectedly. Therefore, I can accept that that’s how my mind is. But it’s not me.

Have you been through shifts in your view of what depression means to you? How do you think about it now?

When I was diagnosed, I shifted all my blame of how I was feeling to Depression. I didn’t take full responsibility for how I was feeling. Now I take responsibility, and do everything I can do to live well. So I don’t see it as something that takes full control of my life. I see it as a nuisance, but it’s something I have to work proactively with, and do the best I can.

Bipolar Frustrations

One of the most frustrating parts of being manic depressed is having to question our health, when we’re feeling great. Because it might not be authentic happiness. It might not be real. It can help to remind myself of what depression is like, to help calm myself and motivate myself into self-care. There’s a difference between stable happiness, and manic happiness. I have to monitor myself even when I’m happy, not just when I’m down. 

Going Round In Circles

This post isn’t about my progress with the film project- it’s a personal post; a reflection with how I’m feeling; but it still links, I guess, because it’s the main inspiration for the film.

The film is based on my on-going battle with Depression and Anxiety. The film’s antagonist; Alison is a metaphor for the manipulative way that the mind can trap you, and prevent you from going forwards.

So anyway- going back to my reflection:

I’m not okay. I’ve been up and down. Mostly down, but occasionally up. And the rare instances that I’ve felt happy have been hijacked by the negative thoughts which warn me not to get too happy, or I’ll crash and burn. (Like I’ve done many times).

Lately, I’ve been quite progressive: I’ve been doing all of the self-care things I’m supposed to like meeting up with my mentor on a weekly basis, going to the gym, and eating healthily. I’ve been proactive- I interned for a month, and I’ve been in and out of the edit suite, trying to piece together the film.

I quickly scribbled a poster in large font titled ‘How to Manage the Highs and Lows’: I made this when I felt stable, as a reminder that I’m going to feel low again, really low like I do right now- and the purpose of it is to give me some basic, easy things to do when I feel at breaking point. But I’m looking at it right now- it says things like “Don’t overthink, but when I do- I can CHOOSE how I react; I choose to focus on something else”. It’s so much easier said than done. When I look at the poster now, the words are meaningless, they are empty.

When I feel like this, the warning signs are there: unwashed dishes piling up, basic hygiene practices are thrown out the window, and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, but my brain won’t switch off and I know I’ll have trouble falling asleep.

Everything right now seems pointless. University. The graduation film. My career goals. My personal goals. Something tells me that I’ll make it through, but right now I can’t be positive, even if I tried with all my might.

This is the reality of this horrible, chronic illness. Yes, it’s an illness. There’s a taboo around calling it that- but that is what it is. If I could help it, I would not be this way. You know, sometimes I am stable, and I try and hold onto that as much as possible. But sometimes there are triggers- this overwhelming sadness and numbness feels random, but I know it’s triggered by reminders of the past. And there was a trigger this morning, where I knew that it would hit me really hard, and well…now it’s hit me. I am drained, tired, and feel really, really numb and low.

That’s all I can say. It will get better. Well I hope so.

Constant Mood Monitering

Recovery for Depression and Anxiety is continuous. For me, I need to stay busy, so that I don’t start over thinking and over analysing.

It’s hard to tell which thoughts and feelings are based on reality, or whether I’m just over reacting.

I have to keep checking on my mood, and it’s incredibly monotonous.

When I’m sad, like really sad, then I’m often lethargic so I won’t have the energy to keep track of my mood. But that’s usually the onset for a low point. When I’m at the lowest of lows, I won’t do anything. Everything will be pointless.

On the contrary, when I’m happy, I still have to check my mood. Because I can’t trust myself. I’m inconsistent. So if I’m happy, I just think “what’s the catch?”. So I have to catch myself before I fall.

Interactive Video Planning

Today, me Diana and Dominika met up to discuss the planning of our interactive video idea. We came up with a couple of ideas around creating an awareness around High-Functioning Depression. The first idea, which we thought of a couple of months ago would be the player taking part in Andie’s monotonous routine- from her perspective. The player would begin in Andie’s workplace, and then there would be external or internal triggers which would enable the player to direct the story. Eventually the final video which the player would eventually reach to would be Andie hesitating whether to purchase a ticket to Southend. If the player selects the option of going to Southend, then the player would be directed to a trailer of our film. But we’ve still yet to decide what the outcome would be if we decide not to purchase the ticket.

Moreover, the idea I came up with was inspired by a session I had with my counsellor yesterday regarding coping strategies for my anxiety and depression. The counsellor introduced mindfulness to me. We were on the topic of harmful thoughts, and she told me to imagine myself as if I was at a bus stop and I was watching buses go past. Each bus that went passed would be a thought I might have (like how buses have adverts on the side, but instead it would be a thought such as ‘You are worthless’). She said that I can choose to acknowledge the thought by getting on the bus, thus drawing myself into a negative spiral where my thoughts become more vicious…OR I choose to let the thought, or in this case the bus, to go passed. Sometimes there will be thoughts that I have to face, such as ‘I’m overwhelmed by work’, and in which case I could step on the bus, and deal with that thought head-on, but in a constructive way, or again, I could stay at the bus stop and acknowledge that the thoughts I’m having are just that- they’re thoughts, and by waiting at the bus stop I can buy myself some thinking time to calm down.

So, with this in mind, I thought of a simple idea for an interactive video which would be uncomplicated in terms of structure, and is more about the message, than creating an overcomplicated user experience. So the interactive video will be what I just described, and there will be a tendency to keep going back to the bus stop, which shows the monotonous cycle of depression, and the provocation to become more panicked.

Below is the sketched idea which I’m still working on: