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’. 

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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.

Office Location

The office scene was filmed in J Block in university; where the graphic and illustration spaces are located. We filmed on the weekend and booked the space to film in, because otherwise on a weekday the area is very busy with staff and students as it’s part of the walkway.

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Above: J Block graphic and illustration area

Adella was responsible for dressing the location. We wanted to make it look as realistic as possible. The theme for the first day of the office scene was Valentine’s Day. The reason for this had two intentions: Firstly to make the red colours stand out, and secondly to be ironic (because this office place is not one you would associate with love).

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.21.48 AM.pngAbove: Valentine’s Day theme in the office

The second day in the office had much paler blues. It’s visually less busy as well; as there are less workers in the office, and there are less objects. Also, Andie is wearing a pale blue shirt, so we wanted to make this the focal point. As I have mentioned previously, colours are an integral part of the film. Throughout the film, the colours that Andie and Alison represent the power balance. So at the beginning when Alison is wearing bright red, it signals that she’s the more dominant and overwhelming character. As the film goes on, Alison’s control over Andie weakens, signalled by her colours standing out less. In turn, Andie’s colours become lighter, to show that she herself is becoming lighter and freer.

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Above: Day 2 of the office

Comic Workshop

Yesterday I attended the Woodbarn Workshop, and participated in a workshop my Father, who is a cartoonist, led. After my Father gave a short presentation on his career highlights and an introduction to the world of comic making, we put our knowledge into practice.

Our task was to collectively produce a mini fanzine, made up of each person making a comic based on their favourite film.

 

The challenge was to tell the story using only six panels. I based my comic on ‘The Layers’. 

Bringing my own storyboards along definitely helped in terms of mapping out the visuals, but it was hard to choose only six images that would sum up the story. I decided to write the text from my own perspective- telling the story of my own Depression, rather than it being about Andie’s story. Andie in this case is me, and this was about my own reflection.

I was a little reluctant to sharing this at first because of how personal it was, but my Father reassured me that “a comic doesn’t always have to be humorous, it doesn’t have to have a strap-line. It can be personal”. 

 

Woodbarn Workshop is a collective of local artists in the Surrey/Hampshire border who meet up  to try out different art practices and explore different design processes.

Meaning and Purpose

On my own journey of self-discovery, I have recognised that I have a side of me which is rational, and understands that patience is a virtue. Events out of my control will always happen. I can’t control what happens outside of me.

I have a fear of being disliked. Even if I don’t know that person well at all, I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that they don’t like me, and I want to change that. I want everybody to like me because I like to think that I am always trying to do the right thing. Even if I know that right now, I could be working hard on improving myself, or that I should be doing the most urgent task immediately, I also believe that I should do what else feels right at that moment- what feels morally right. So in a work situation, I want to deal with the main problem- the general overall picture. I want to get to focus point. No chit-chat. Straight to the chase.

Sometimes I’m that chit-chat person. I’m bubbly. I’m a magnet to thoughtful discussion. I want to be friends with someone. I want to have a great interaction with someone, or I’m fully immersed in the environment. I focus on the person. I listen to their situation, I want them to be happy.

Even if that thing is bad, even if I have made a mistake, I want to know how I can fix it right now. Even if it’s too late to restore something good before it goes, I want it to become a lesson that I learn from. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again. I don’t want to run away from my problems anymore. I want to face them, head on and move forward.

I suppose Alison is a reflection of what Depression does- it manipulates you into thinking that there is something wrong with you, and you cause things to go wrong. In the office, Andie can anticipate something will go wrong, because she’s used to Alison turning up frequently in her life, which is the onset of her Depression.

I was inspired by this quote: “Understanding the ways in which your depression affects you, physically, emotionally and mentally is the first step to overcoming it and using it to your advantage.” That’s not to say you’ll never be depressed again, but it’ll help you create strategies to overcome a depressive episode when you feel one coming.” – from ‘The Depression Advantage’, by Tom Wootton.

References:

Wootton, T. (2007). The Depression Advantage. 1st ed. Bipolar Advantage Publishing.