This woman documented her husband's depressions through a series of personal photographs

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By VT

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Maureen Drennan is a photographer who for years has been interested in what it means to live a life removed. Her interest in this theme has seen her study the remote pot farmers in areas like Lake County, CA and investigate the ice-fishing communities that exist in the harsh winter months of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now, in her most recent body of work, the photographer has beautifully captured the feelings of isolation and vulnerability that those suffering from severe depression experience.

When Maureen's husband found himself in the grip of severe depression, Drennan did what she does best and photographed the entire experience. The project, called "The Sea That Surrounds Us" was manufactured in 2010. However, while it may have begun 8 years ago, the final photo is from 2014.

The body of work consists of several portraits of Maureen's husband, Paul, and various landscapes on Block Island, Rhode Island. Drennan said that when she was seven years old and her parents had separated, she and her father moved to the island for a year in order to get some peace and breathing space. “It was a very lonely time,” Drennan says. “The windblown landscape is very beautiful, and also watching the dissolution of my parent's marriage was sad to see.” But, when she found her own marriage descending in turmoil, she returned to the place to photograph the whole ordeal.

Maureen uses the landscapes within the series to serve as both self-portraits and to explain the feelings of isolation and distance that both she, and her husband, were experiencing. She says that, as a child, she was shocked at the difference between the busy, fun-loving nature of summer on the island when compared to the deserted nature of off-season.

She says, “Block Island is like a stand-in for me feeling isolated, feeling cut off, feeling like I could not understand what Paul was going through. And then watching him come out of the depression was like watching a season change. It was miraculous to see the return of this person who was so totally lost.”

Drennan says that she is grateful to her husband for being open to the gaze of the camera at such a challenging time in his life. In the pictures, it's clear to see that Paul trusts his wife, with the intimacy between the pair being one of the key reasons they got through the depression. Drennan notes that Paul, who is an artist himself, understood that she needed to use photography in order to come to grips with what they were experiencing. "Where words failed us,” she says, “the pictures filled in the blanks.”

The photos captured by Drennan are both intimate and personal while also being beautiful and stunningly captured. Through using a different method of exploring the issue of depression and mental health, Drennan is only helping expand the conversation around the subject - which still remains a taboo for some.

This woman documented her husband's depressions through a series of personal photographs

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

Maureen Drennan is a photographer who for years has been interested in what it means to live a life removed. Her interest in this theme has seen her study the remote pot farmers in areas like Lake County, CA and investigate the ice-fishing communities that exist in the harsh winter months of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now, in her most recent body of work, the photographer has beautifully captured the feelings of isolation and vulnerability that those suffering from severe depression experience.

When Maureen's husband found himself in the grip of severe depression, Drennan did what she does best and photographed the entire experience. The project, called "The Sea That Surrounds Us" was manufactured in 2010. However, while it may have begun 8 years ago, the final photo is from 2014.

The body of work consists of several portraits of Maureen's husband, Paul, and various landscapes on Block Island, Rhode Island. Drennan said that when she was seven years old and her parents had separated, she and her father moved to the island for a year in order to get some peace and breathing space. “It was a very lonely time,” Drennan says. “The windblown landscape is very beautiful, and also watching the dissolution of my parent's marriage was sad to see.” But, when she found her own marriage descending in turmoil, she returned to the place to photograph the whole ordeal.

Maureen uses the landscapes within the series to serve as both self-portraits and to explain the feelings of isolation and distance that both she, and her husband, were experiencing. She says that, as a child, she was shocked at the difference between the busy, fun-loving nature of summer on the island when compared to the deserted nature of off-season.

She says, “Block Island is like a stand-in for me feeling isolated, feeling cut off, feeling like I could not understand what Paul was going through. And then watching him come out of the depression was like watching a season change. It was miraculous to see the return of this person who was so totally lost.”

Drennan says that she is grateful to her husband for being open to the gaze of the camera at such a challenging time in his life. In the pictures, it's clear to see that Paul trusts his wife, with the intimacy between the pair being one of the key reasons they got through the depression. Drennan notes that Paul, who is an artist himself, understood that she needed to use photography in order to come to grips with what they were experiencing. "Where words failed us,” she says, “the pictures filled in the blanks.”

The photos captured by Drennan are both intimate and personal while also being beautiful and stunningly captured. Through using a different method of exploring the issue of depression and mental health, Drennan is only helping expand the conversation around the subject - which still remains a taboo for some.