- Posted May 2, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
The D Word
The following article, written by Luke Eve, first appeared in the Sunday Style Magazine published in Australia on the 20th of April 2014.
For the full report and media head to: www.lowlifeseries.com
Depression makes no sense. It strikes people who you don’t suspect would have it. It’s something hidden. Because it’s something to be embarrassed about. Those that have it are weird and are to be avoided.
Depression, like all mental health, is stigmatised.
What right do I have to feel lonely or down or, for that matter, make a series about it.
I’m not chronically depressed but to simply say I get sad or I’m deep or sensitive is kind of bullshit. I suffer from depression. And I have for a long time.
There I said it.
I’m not sure when it first happened. It rolled on through, like an uninvited bastard, into my teenage bedroom and never quite left. My parents thought it was puberty. Over the years, I mistook it for creativity. My friends thought it was angst. Girlfriends thought it was moodiness.
I’ve gone on aimless walks, slept on bathroom floors, cancelled meetings, disconnected my phone, pulled down the shutters, thought about the unthinkable and locked myself off from the world. I’ve failed to show up to everyday life because I couldn’t wade through the fog that day.
The black dog is a frequent visitor – luckily for me its bark is worse than its bite.
It’s something I never ever talk about because I’m embarrassed and I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I’m even writing this article. I feel guilty because I have amazing people in my life who deserve better than someone who simply shuts down and hides from the world.
Depression makes no sense.
It’s a crippling sadness; it’s an inability to breathe; it’s an endless fog; a smothering quicksand; along with a thousand other dark and brooding images. But it’s real. And it’s exhausting. And I know a lot of people that have it. And suffer from it. And deal with it.
It’s a symptom of the modern world.
And when we talk about it it can be funny and even cathartic.
Its no coincidence that many comedians suffer from it. I would argue that depression is the flip side to humour. I was the class clown - ‘Luke needs to pay more attention’, my teachers would say. I would argue I paid too much attention. When you’re depressed you analyse. And when you analyse that’s when things get dark. Comedy is a way to deal - it not only saved me from fights as a kid it allowed the light to stay on in a pretty dark room. Later through life it illumined the shadows and it even got me laid. But that’s a different story.
I’ve surrounded myself with people that make me laugh. And I constantly see the funny side of a crappy situation. What’s the alternative? No one wants to go there …
Last year I moved to the USA for a stint. I spent the holidays in New York catching up with old friends, in particular, writer, Adam Grossetti. For Aussie blokes we talked about some pretty personal things – beer will do that. But a common theme was the idea of masculinity and what it actually meant.
The concept of Australian masculinity has always intrigued me. Growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney was not exactly the sort of place you shared your feelings. It was a pretty repressed place and I struggled for my place in it. I’m also intrigued by the high rate of suicide in Australian men; our inability to handle alcohol; and our prevalence for violence, all of which I experienced at a young age.
After my visit to New York I settled temporarily in Los Angeles. Dream chasing. LA is the place where it takes people weeks to return phone calls and emails, not because their data servers are crap, but because your career is. So … I had plenty of time on my hands. I also had plenty of time to sink into a lonely despair about work and life. All of these thoughts and events gave me the idea of making something about depression - in particular depression in men. I put pen to paper.
Over the following months, ideas and images were born. I called Adam and pitched him the idea of making a web series about depression. A black comedy. He was instantly responsive. Over the coming months we back and forthed as he wrote and I provided notes and thoughts.
Then something extraordinary happened. We decided to raise the money through Kickstarter. Everyone knows about crowdfunding – everyday we all receive emails asking us to contribute to a friend’s movie or album which they can’t be bothered paying for themselves. So we did the same. I emailed everybody in my address book a pretty personal note about why I wanted to make this series. For the first time ever, I openly mentioned the D word.
Private email messages came flooding back to me from friends and family, telling me of their own battles with depression. All of them men. All of them a deeply personal account. I was incredibly touched. And, I know it sounds cheesy, but I no longer felt alone about my depression.
It also made me think that I was onto something. As we shifted into production, collaborators flooded to the project because they too had suffered from depression. I started to worry that if a collective bout of the black dog hit us we’d be stuffed. Too paralysed with sadness to work. But it quickly became the most personal and joyous project I had ever worked on.
The result of all that thinking, analysing, crying, laughing, introspection and hard work by an amazing cast and crew can be seen on the 30th of April at lowlifeseries.com
Low Life by no means offers solutions. It doesn’t even pretend to. But hopefully it sheds light where there was once darkness on a topic that, until recently, even I was afraid to talk about.