Watercolour pencil on paper, A4 size, Not for sale.

I drew this back in 2015, when I was suffering severe depression as part of a whole suite of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. It’s one of the few times I’ve used art as an outlet for a difficult emotion. Usually I use singing or writing for this, but sometimes visual art feels more appropriate.

I was really struggling with a huge inner pain and nothing seemed to heal it. I’ve always been too good at hiding my pain whether it’s physical or emotional. Last year I had appendicitis which is supposed to be one of the most painful conditions a person can have and I calmly told the doctor I was about a 9 on the pain scale. It was only a 9 because the emotional pain I felt in 2015 was much worse than the physical pain of appendicitis so that’s my benchmark now.

Every day I turned up to work, put on a smile without even thinking about it, and got on with my job. Inside I was in so much pain that I sometimes casually thought it would be easier if I were dead. If I tried to talk about it people would try to relate to me by comparing their own inner pain but it was never as extreme as mine. They had no way to compare or understand. Some of them even became angry at me when I repeatedly asked them for help, as they realised they were unable to help me. So I felt completely alone.

There’s a strange psychological phenomenon where some victims of abuse never truly know themselves, so the pain of loneliness is caused by missing our true selves. And because we don’t show our true selves to the outer world, nobody ever really knows us so they can’t connect with us. We neither know ourselves, nor love ourselves. So in this way we are truly lonely. This is what caused the inner pain I felt.

Even now I feel compelled to write a happy ending to this story. Things have improved through therapy and medication, but there are battles I still fight every day. This artwork is my best representation of the worst pain I’ve ever felt.  It doesn’t bring me pain to see it now, but it does make me feel sorry for myself back then, and I send my love to that version of myself.