Photography is My Therapy
I want to end the stigma around mental illness and let people know they’re not alone in what they’re feeling.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 edition of Holl & Lane focused on The Mind. Holl & Lane is a quarterly publication focused on letting women know they are not alone. Buy the full issue here.
I’m a survivor of mental illness, specifically borderline personality disorder. I say survivor because I no longer feel like a victim to it but there were plenty of times when it almost killed me. My experience has urged me to talk openly and honestly about mental illness. This is my story.
From the age of 13 I have suffered from major depression and low self esteem, causing me to use self harm as a coping mechanism. Throughout my teenage years I always felt different from my peers. I was constantly up and down in moods and became paranoid that people were talking about me. Self harm grew into a comfortable habit, being the only thing that could physically show how I was feeling.
As I grew up I wanted to get help, and started therapy to help overcome my self harm. I explored why I self harmed and how it helped. I discovered that it was a way to show my emotional distress in a physical way when words failed me. I thought there must be another way to show how I’m feeling without putting myself in danger and permanently damaging my body. And that’s when photography became a big part of my life.
I first started trying to document when I was in a distressed state by taking simple self portraits. The problem with this is that I hated the way I looked when I had been crying and couldn’t imagine sharing the photos with the world! So I started to create ideas when I was in a better state of mind. I loved surreal art and wanted to create photography similar to the surrealist style because what I was feeling was hard to explain in itself!
I am proud to show my personal photography as I want to end the stigma around mental illness and let people know that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling.
It’s now been 4 years since I started using photography to help me recover and while I still do my personal work, it’s less dark as I’m in the best mental state that I have ever been!
I would urge anyone suffering from mental illness to try out different forms of art until they find one that helps them express and release those difficult emotions.