Depression, like a lot of mental health, is often misunderstood and readily dismissed. It’s also something which many people feel uncomfortable talking about or even acknowledging; it is rarely discussed, usually acknowledged only when dehumanising affected people as the butt of jokes and downplaying the damaging effects of depression on people, relationships and lifestyles.
Because of this unwillingness to discuss mental health, most people are uninformed and think of depression as sadness, an emotion which they can relate to, that depressed people just need to cheer themselves up by thinking happy thoughts and get on with life. Others believe it’s a selfish excuse to get attention or pity, or simply a reason to get out of work and responsibility. Underneath all of these assumptions is a belief that if you just try hard enough you can be happy again and beat depression.
These misconceptions are the main reason for this brief, as I want to educate people, including myself, about it, and I believe that educating people at a young age will help to combat ignorant beliefs.
The aim of this project is to create a book, zine or leaflet (most likely using sketches, Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign) that helps to explain depression to children aged 7 years and up. I will be working alongside Fay Wilson (a Graphic Design student here at the University of Bedfordshire) who has her own personal experiences with depression which will be a valuable insight during this project. We also hope to make the book accessible to adult audiences, so that they can educate themselves either independently, or whilst reading with children. Goblins will feature as an abstraction for how the brain works, and how it can be affected by depression. The kind of goblins that I envision in this book are similar in behaviour to those in the film Labyrinth; loud, mischievous, unruly and dysfunctional. However, we shall research into various portrayals of goblins and attempt to create our own interpretation that we feel fits the tone of the book.
Currently, we do not foresee the need for a single plot or storyline, more likely the narrative of the book will feature typical scenarios and situations expressed in single sentences that depressed people and their carers may find themselves in. We are also aware that many people’s experiences of depression can differ, so we want to try and cover a wide variety of scenarios if possible.
One of the main focus’ is that in many people’s education, mental health was rarely discussed, and so a lot of people don’t seem to know or comprehend that some mental illnesses such as depression can fluctuate wildly. We want to show in this book that some days you may function as usual, but others you might be completely unable to function.
Another thing, which I believe is important in any media, is representation of people from various walks of life, as depression can affect anyone, so we should portray it as such. I feel that white, able bodied heterosexual females tend to be seen as the ‘default’ or ‘typical’ human being to experience depression, so I want to make an effort to show that people who are disabled, of various ethnicities, LGBTQIA [see Appendix 1], and/or male can also suffer from depression.
I don’t claim to know a lot about depression and I am aware of the dangers of presenting something as fact when I myself know so little; therefore the research for this project will be one of the most important stages, as it will determine how we portray the effects of depression.
It is my hope that working on this book will give me an insight into the process of professionally creating and illustrating children’s books. It will be a challenge for me as I will have to write, draw and collaborate about a serious topic, and at the same time take care to present it in a form that will not only be interesting to children, but also accurately and considerately represent depression without undermining the purpose of the book.
Andrews, B., 2002. Why Are You So Sad: A Child’s Book about Parental Depression. Washinton, DC: Magination Press.
Brosh, A., 2011. Adventures in Depression. hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk Life/humour blog [blog] October 2011, Available at: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html [Accessed 4th January 2014]
Brosh, A., 2013. Depression Part Two. hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk Life/humour blog [blog] May 2013, Available at: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/depression-part-two.html [Accessed 4th January 2014]
Ha, T., 2014. How should we talk about mental health? blog.ted.com TED Blog. [blog] 18 December 2013, Available at: http://blog.ted.com/2013/12/18/how-should-we-talk-about-mental-health/. [Accessed 16 January 2014].
Johnstone, M., 2007. I Had a Black Dog. London: Robinson Publishing.
Johnstone, M. and Johnstone A., 2009. Living with a Black Dog. London: Robinson Publishing.
Solomon, A., 2013. Depression, the secret we share, TedxMet. Filmed: October 2013. Posted: December 2013. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share.html [Accessed 5th January 2014]
All Final Major Project related posts (in order):