6 Photographs That Show How Depression Leaves You Empty

April 7, 2017

|Maria Suarez

“That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” 

Elizabeth Wurtzel

How can we fight something we can’t see? If we cannot measure or quantify it how will we know what it actually is? According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, 18% of the population suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder. Yet even as anxiety and depression appear to have taken over the contemporary spectrum of mental disorders, they continue to have that taboo aspect about them. We still don’t talk about it. Whether we suffer from it or know someone who is drowning in the middle of it all, we’d rather pretend that everything is alright. Unlike other illnesses that are more obvious, or at least visible, depression and anxiety destroy from the inside. Each person is left to their own devices to battle their particular demons. Yet even as this epidemic hits all of us close to home, its stigma limits people from getting help or being better allies to those going through it.  

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 1

Victoria Krundysheva is a photographer who uses art to send a clear message of what depression and anxiety feel like and why it must not be ignored or brushed aside. Her series titled The Dark Room deals with both the desperation to be heard, as well as the confusion that occurs within one’s own mind when you find yourself in the middle of an anxiety attack or full blown depression.

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 2

“This project is still very personal as a very close friend to me has been going through it for few years. But even being an observer, I feel that the scale and depth of the problem is not being understood enough in society. The way it tortures you from inside, making it feel like you are your worst enemy at times, is far worse than some of physical pain people can go through.”

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 3

An artist who likes to tell stories through highly stylized images, Krundysheva mixes photography with fashion esthetic to capture gorgeous pictures that are both realistic, yet have fantastic and mystical traits. This creates a strikingly beautiful combination of a photograph that is so real you can almost touch it while also telling a tale that is full of metaphor and paradox.

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 4

Krundysheva prepared for this project by interviewing people going through these issues, as well as reading psychology papers, and observing art about it. In order to stay true to these disorders while remaining respectful, she planned ways for the models to experience sensations rather than act on what they believed about depression and anxiety.  

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 5

“I wanted discomfort in photos to be authentic, so in most of the pictures my model is being put in uncomfortable conditions while shooting. For instance, I actually wrapped the food tape around her face and poked only one tiny hole for her to breathe while shooting the screaming picture. In another shot, I put her in a bathtub and had my assistant pour chocolate sauce all over her body to create the effect of her being wrapped in sticky darkness. This natural discomfort has played a part in achieving authentic look of final pictures. And as a major side of working with models, I tried to explain her emotional pain through the physical, so that in the final pictures we can see both. (…) in almost all the pictures the face remains hidden or deformed- it was my intention to show less of the facial expressions and let the body speak more in this case.”

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 6

Projects like this are important, since they capture sides of humanity most of us would rather ignore. Because if we were to acknowledge them, we’d be admitting that there is a bit of it existing within ourselves. In an era where perfection is prized and anything else is shunned or ignored, Krundysheva’s work presents an alternative. It externalizes our humanity and imperfection, our internal battles and struggles. It gives a voice to a situation that is usually dramatized in film and television for plot purposes, yet is ridiculed by pundits and news anchors. It’s a topic that women’s magazines playfully refer to without ever going in depth, while the one’s aimed at men also choose to refer to, but not explain the reason for it’s existence.

Victoria Krundysheva Dark Room 7

“I think people are more afraid and suspicious towards things that they can't touch, that leave no evident physical mark, and this fear projects through denial and being distant. Empathy requires emotional connection with the issue and not everyone is willing to risk their seaming peace of mind to dive into darkness of this issue.”

Perhaps it will be through this project, that we can finally talk about this topic openly and honestly. Hopefully, we'll be able to remove the taboo and begin dissecting its origins and causes, because only then  we will be able to find better ways to treat and diagnose it. It’s only through feeling what others feel that we can begin to truly understand without being condescending. At some point in all of our lives, we will experience a difficult situation where we think nobody will or can understand. And it’s true. None of us can feel what the other feels. But we can empathize and try to be allies rather than more obstacles. Perhaps through being open and willing to listen we can start to find new ways to support those undergoing any kind of disorder, including depression and anxiety.

You can find more information and images of Victoria Krundysheva on her Instagram

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Maria Suarez

Maria Suarez

Coordinadora Editorial CC+