It is always inspiring to see how profound a piece of animation can be and how deeply it can move you. The image above is from the short animated film, Skhizein, by Parisian director/illustrator Jérémy Clapin. It is a beautiful piece rendered in somber tones that can be easily interpreted as a metaphor for mental illness, specifically depression. Hector describes this piece as a “sweeter, gentler companion piece” to Melancholia, by Lars Von Trier.

In this short, a 150 000 ton meteorite hits earth and knocks the main character, Henri, “beside himself”. He is split (hence the title, from the Greek root “to split”) precisely 91cm away from himself, suddenly existing in an unbearably divided state. No treatment seems to help and his coping strategies isolate him from his family and colleagues.

The Vimeo link is here, but the film’s own website is here and Jérémy Clapin’s website is here.

We work near CAMH, so the presence of mental illness is never very far from our thoughts. Sometimes the metaphors offered in films, art, literature, and theatre, are the only ways to express states of being that can be so indescribable. To learn more about depression from a personal point of view, check out this 1998 article by Andrew Solomon, Anatomy of Melancholy. He later expanded on his experience and research into the book, The Noonday Demon. Simple, but research-based answers about depression and treatment can also be found at Depression Hurts.

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