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'Voices in the Grey' Illustrated Project Shows What Depression Really Feels Like

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How would you describe your depression?

Some people think of their depression as a sinister fog, slowly rolling in. Others feel their depression is like being sucked under a giant wave, never knowing when they’ll be able to come up for air. Many picture depression as a monster strapped to their backs, crushing them as they try to stagger on.

There are so many metaphors that describe life with depression — and each description is valid in its own right. Because there are so many ways to experience depression, artist Rachael Bright set out to bring people’s descriptions to life through her illustrated project, Voices in the Grey

To create the images for her project, Bright asks for anonymous submissions (which she calls “voices”) of what people’s depression feels like, focusing on their sensory experiences. From there, she illustrates what they describe. 

“Once a voice is posted and someone shares the post, someone else sees it realizes they feel either exactly the same way, or similar, and suddenly they don’t feel so alone,” Bright told The Mighty.

Below, you can see examples of her work:

Bright was inspired to create this project after living through a medical crisis that left her severely depressed. While scrolling through Facebook one day, she came across a meme describing depression and felt a connection to the meme creator.

“I realized I could instantly visualize their voice. I decided to share that meme and ask others how their depression and anxiety made them feel,” she said. “The images just kept coming to me. So I decided to illustrate donated voices anonymously as a way to de-stigmatize mental illness and help validate and unburden people who are suffering.”

The response to Bright’s project has been greater than she expected, with people from all over the world following her work. She believes this is because depression is a worldwide crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 264 million people of all ages.

Bright hopes the project will help people realize they are not alone, despite how depression can make you feel. 

To follow Voices in the Grey, check out its Facebook, Instagram and website. If you’d like the chance to be featured as an illustrated voice for the project, email Bright at with a sentence or two about the way depression makes you feel.

What does your depression feel like? Let us know in the comments.

Header image via “Voices in the Grey” Facebook page.

Originally published: December 10, 2019
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