Behind closed eyes

One in five people will be affected by depression at some stage in their lives. Women are twice as likely to get depression than men. This project is based on Women in London with depression during 2007.

Eight women between the ages of 21-32 agreed to be photographed. Alongside the images are personal writings by each woman telling their story.

We have all encountered sadness in our lives but can we really compare this feeling to the experience of depression. “Behind Closed Eyes” gives an insight into personal experiences and feelings. Many people who have gone through this illness have said that no one understands unless they have been through it themselves.

Simran, 22
British Indian, London, UK

Simran is Sikh and it is against her religion to cut her hair.

“As the blades link as a cross
I see myself in the mirror & mourn my loss,
Shouting under the floorboards, confused state of mind
Unsure of what is happening, answers I’m looking to find
I pick up the blades a run it through my hair
The strands fall to the floor, I feel naked I feel bare
Looking out of the window trying to realize what I have done
Only if I could go far away, only if I could run
But I can’t go I can’t leave I have to stay
Cut away my emotions seems to be the only way”

Nadia, 26,
British Polish, London, UK

“I don’t know what to write about my depression, I was thinking that maybe I could write it like that (list the feelings/states that i have been undergoing)

  • The fear of people, withdrawing from social life, avoiding people, running away from them, and thinking that nobody liked/accepted me.
  • Having panic attacks (especially in situations involving other people or when travelling on the tube or when someone else was driving and I was in the car as well involving horrible visions that I could not get rid off!).
  • Worsening the relationship with my husband and all my friends. (due to my uncontrolled behaviour)
  • Being miserable and having suicidal thoughts.
  • Unable to fall asleep or to leave the bed (the first one much more).
  • Pushing my husband away and telling him to leave when I wanted him most to stay…
  • Being unable to feel any kind of joy of life, especially for a long time.

This is very personal and I can’t talk about all that properly. I have tried many things and I know that if I wasn’t taking the antidepressants now, all the above states and feelings would be still present in my life.”

Andra, 35,
British Dominican, London, UK

“I have suffered from depression for about 4 years, I didn’t realise what it was but now I think I know what it is and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, it is the worst thing I have ever felt, just being so lost but then also trying to pretend around people that I know and deep down love so much. I just feel so cold inside, there are so many people that I will have to apologise to when I am better. Those included are my mum most of all who brought me into the world. She is here at the moment but yet she thinks that I don’t love her but if I don’t love myself I can’t show any love to anyone else including my daughter. I have a few friends who I have been extremely close to over many years and for love or money, they are like family. I do hope that one day I look back at these days and treat them as a learning curb both for me and my daughter as she grows up.” 

Christina, 32,
British, London, UK

“I was suffering from cramp pains, like severe period pains and sitting there with a growing realisation that I was losing the baby. I tried to read a novel, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I had only just started reading the book and could not concentrate on it. I only got through a few pages the whole time. I have never tried to read it again since then as it has bad associations for me.

A pamphlet given to me at the hospital showed a Russian style doll that opens with another doll inside it. This doll is opening but there is no smaller doll inside and she is crying. She is broken and not able to fulfil her main purpose to hold another doll inside her. Seeing this image made me angry and upset. I am not a doll and my main purpose in life is not to hold another doll! I found the image distasteful, but it also summed up how I felt, broken, inadequate and empty inside.

I spent a lot of time after the miscarriage sitting at home feeling unable to face going out or doing things. I was crying frequently and was very emotional. I wanted to be left alone and if people expected me to do things I felt it was too much pressure. I felt like a wreck. But my life was too busy, and soon I had to get on with it. Though it was hard to concentrate on other things, eventually it helped. I am glad of that now, or I think I would have sunk into a deeper depression.” 

Marta, 28
Polish, London, UK

“The worst part of depression is that you think that you are alone with your feelings and will never get out of this black hole you’re in. Your future does not exist, you feel you can’t cope with everyday life, small problems seem enormous.

You can’t help yourself by positive thinking (simply impossible, nothing is positive), your friends and family won’t help you either (unless they have been through this), usually they do not understand why you behave in this way. I was quite lucky to have my Dad who is a Psychologist, he told me I was not alone and sent me to the Psychiatrist who prescribed antidepressants. It has been around 9 years ago and since then I have been on and off the medicine. Somebody might say that I simply got addicted but I had periods of one to two years of living normally without it. But in the end the horrible days of darkness would catch me. 

At present I lead a normal life (being on anti-depressants), people around me think I am a happy smiley person. In the future I will definitely try to go off the medicine again, but if the pills are the only thing that would help me function normally, I will keep on taking them.“

Leila, 22
British Pakistani, London, UK

As a child Leila suffered from Eczema which kept her up all night and left her sleeping all day. Her depression brought back the same routine

“My hide away was under the duvet in my bed. I felt like I was safe there and if I slept continuously I wouldn’t have to think about anything that would upset me. Anytime that I was awake I would just dwell on all the negative aspects of my life it made me very indecisive even about the tiniest thing such as whether to eat or not. I wanted to be left alone and not have to face everyone’s questions about what was wrong with me. This was one of the most difficult parts of my life.”

Ameera, 30
Pakistani, London, UK

In 1999 Ameera’s five-year-old son died at home from Leukaemia.

“When a parent loses their child the depression never goes away.”

Sharon, 25
British Indian, London, UK

“I felt very numb and did not know what to think or feel. Months were going by and one day my mother asked me if I wanted to go grocery shopping with her and within that moment. I fell apart and I could not stop myself crying. I was not happy and I was lying to everyone and myself. I remember having these terrible pains in my stomach and now I know that the pain was of hate, hurt and sadness growing bigger and bigger inside of me. I needed to try and live.”