What It’s Like Growing Up With A Mom Who’s Mentally Ill

Melissa Spitz has spent years making photographs of her mentally ill, substance-abusing mother. Her photo-essay in the print edition of Anxy showcases their complex, shifting relationship. Buy your copy now.

When I was a kid, we all lived walking on eggshells. Everything was because Mom needed it this way, or it would make Mom happy if we did that. She used to fight with me, scream at me, and when I would try to leave the house to get away from her, she would threaten suicide. I didn’t want her to hurt herself, so I would stay in a very unhealthy place.

This project has changed our relationship completely. The work has allowed me to empathize with her, and it’s also allowed her to see herself in a different way.

For a long period of time, my mom told me that the work had gotten her to quit drinking.

She still says the images saved her life.

Now it’s all we do together.

Read more of Melissa’s story through her Instagram account, @nothing_to_worry_about, or in Anxy, a fresh magazine that examines our inner worlds. Issue №1 features Margaret Atwood, Ijeoma Oluo, Matt Eich and others exploring our relationship with anger.