So in the last semester I spent at SCAD (over a year ago now, that’s crazy) I had a drawing assignment where I was supposed to choose three objects that I felt represented me and put them in a drawing. My professor called it a “Symbolic Self-Portrait.” Most people in my class chose really trivial, literal items, like a game controller for the Game Design majors, lipstick for the girls who were into fashion, etc. I felt pretty sheepish by the time it came for me to talk about mine during our class critique. I had done this incredibly personal drawing, and I didn’t really expect to share myself with so many people on such a personal level. It just kind of came out of me. I can’t stop thinking about this drawing lately, and how perfectly it really does represent me and everything I struggle with daily, even now.
First, I chose a bell jar. This is an object often used and referred to in literature as a symbol of madness. Scientifically, it’s used to maintain a vacuum. In my drawing, I saw it as a symbol of the madness created by isolation from the outside world. I often live too much in my own head, and isolate myself from others, and that is when I start to feel trapped and sometimes even wonder if I am going mad (or will someday).
The second object I chose was a paper crane. The paper crane is a symbol of hope in Japanese culture, based on the legend of 1,000 Cranes. It is often made from plain white paper - to me, personally, a symbol of purity and opportunity, especially in a creative sense. A fresh start, which at times is liberating, and at times overwhelming and intimidating.
The last object I chose was a pair of scissors. These can be used in so many ways, to both create and also to destroy, even as a deadly weapon if necessary. So much potential that could easily go either way.
The crane’s wing is between the scissor blades, suggesting that they could clip it and therefore keep it from “flying” at any moment, and the crane sits inside the bell jar, trapped.
Both of my parents have struggled with depression for most of their lives. My mom has been diagnosed with clinical depression, and my dad with manic depression. I see similar tendencies in myself, though I try my damnedest to stay strong and positive, and may be somewhat hesitant to admit that I may suffer from the same clinical issues. But the truth is, sometimes it’s like this…darkness just comes over me for no apparent reason, like right now. And while I know I have no reason to feel the way I do, I just can’t seem to shake it off. And then I just feel even more overwhelmed with fear and panic and guilt and sadness all at the same time. It’s paralyzing.
One of my biggest struggles is to battle this darkness. While I know I have the potential for hope and amazing opportunities like the white paper crane, I can’t help but feel trapped in this bell jar, caught between two blades. I know I have the ability and the intelligence to do great things, but I feel convinced that I will only destroy myself in the end.
And even now, reading what I’ve written so far, I know I can overcome all of this, but I’ve reached this point so many times before only to fall back into the same rut over and over again. I don’t know how to break the cycle.