Living with mental illnesses in rural communities of Chiapas.
In Honduras we had 6 participants between the ages of 17 and 62 who had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
During the first week we did different group activities to get to know each other better. Because most of them had never operated a camera before, we explained the different parts and how to use it. We also did exercises to understand how the light works in photography and how to play with the composition. When the participants felt more secure in the technical part we introduced the notions of narrative and symbolism in order to use photography as a means of expression. Each participant used their camera to explore negative and positive aspects of living with mental health problems.
“I was excited to take the photos. My husband always asked me to go to the ranch and I used to say no, I was lazy but one day I grabbed the camera and told him we were going down there to take photos.” Irma R., aged 52.
In her photo project, Irma shares the distress and love that her family bring to her life. Despite all problems, she mainly feels proud of all of what her family has accomplished and is grateful of all of the support and love they have given her.
“Sometimes because of so much work you forget to talk about life.
I realized that I should appreciate my family more. I was thinking about this during the workshop.
It made me recognize my family, be more united and live more in harmony
Participant, aged 62.
In the second week we made individual visits at the participants’ homes to support them in the development of their personal project, which would consist of 10 to 20 final photographs with narrative texts.
“I realized the disease is not as bad as many say, they are experiences that we live.” Wendy G., aged 17.
“I had the opportunity to give my opinion and to know that I am not the only one suffering this but there are many people who are suffering.”
Zendi V., aged 20.
Zendi started suffering from convulsions when she was 10 years old. A wrong diagnosis prevented her to get adequate treatment until she reached adulthood. In these series of photos she portrays some of her most common symptoms: psychogenic non-epileptic seizures and anxiety. In her work “My falls” she captures different places around her house and community where she has fallen due to the seizures.
“I had never used a camera before. Wherever I went I would take it with me. “Francisca C., aged 42.
“It was a really fun time, who knows in those days where the depression was going, I felt very comfortable.” Lizette C., aged 20.
Each participant invited their relatives to see the projection of their final photographs and listen to their stories. They were given a certificate along with 50 printed photographs plus a personal portrait taken by the photographer Camila Jurado. Doña Irma prepared delicious tamales of chipilín for all and at the end we all had cake to celebrate.
I felt good because I could let out what I felt and I could share it with the companions and with you. What I liked the most was taking the photos and identifying myself with the photos I took.” Zendi V., aged 20.
“I was happy because she was not like before. She was angry, sometimes sad. I always asked her to tell me something but she did not tell me anything. Yesterday when she exposed her images I felt a lot of security in her.
Before, she would feel nervous, or angry, but now I see a better change in her.” Mom of a participant (Wendy).