Sometimes words aren't enough to express yourself.  In this on-going photography series I try to capture what words can't for those who aren't able to express themselves. 

If you're like most other people, at some point in your life you have, or know someone who has suffered from depression or anxiety. Hi! I'm one of those too!! 

But I've made it a mission not to let that stop me from living my life doing what I want, my passion - telling stories.  However, not everyone has access to or have the ability for a creative outlet. I would like to open those doors to everyone and help people express their struggles to others.

Everyone has a unique way of experiencing and explaining their depression/anxiety and it is my mission to capture that in a visual form.  I want to break down this stigma surrounding these mental illnesses for those suffering AND for those who aren't.  

Let's do this together! 

Below are some photographs that represent depression and anxiety from people I've already worked with on this project.  If you have any questions or would like to be involved in this series please feel free to contact me - I would love to hear from you!

It's a Heavy Veil

The Idea of the photo:

 

In the photo I am covered in a dark veil. The dark veil symbolizes heavy black tar that is pressing me down and won’t allow me to stand strong, tall and beautiful.

Do you still have Depression/Anxiety?

I think certain events, seasons of the year or illness can trigger anxiety or depression any time – and in anyone. 

I don’t think I am much different to other people in that way. 

The advantage is that having gone through long time episodes of anxiety and depression has prepared me for times to come. 

Now I know how to identify when I am depressed or experiencing anxiety, what helps me to get better and I know that it gets better eventually. 

When did you realize you had Depression​/Anxiety?

When I was 10 years old children in my school started making fun of my long hair and the way I was dressed... 

I went home and compared myself to my Barbie and decided that I must be ugly. That was the first time I was really shaken. This fear of being ugly turned into anxiety.

What do you want people to know?

​I want people to know that anxiety and depression can look different in everyone. You may never know that your children, siblings, parents or friends are affected by it. The most successful people in the world may have it right now.  

Why don't you just get over it?

That unfortunately is what a lot of people have to hear, when they are sad for longer than is socially accepted. 

Getting better takes time.

Figuring out what’s wrong takes time.

Getting better may require specific help, for example therapy, medication, breaking up with an abusive partner…

I also think it’s never really over. Everyone has sad days or get’s anxiety once in a while.

Quiet Out of Time

The idea of the photo: 

It's like the "terrible" is ever looming out there, and the fire is the idea of distraction, of keeping it at bay. Trying never to let the fire go out..and for all to go dark. 

What would you like to say about your depression?

My version was one of nerves and constant worry, most of the time I would never want to close my eyes because my mind would race to the worst of what the day could bring. Sometimes just bad images from nowhere

When did you realize you had depression?

High school. I figured it out as an attitude, and at 31 as a condition, like a physical state. 

What would you like people to know about your depression?

That it can be a state, a state that can change. The problem is to know what is the state and what is you, because they really become the same thing. I never knew a lot of my problem was a problem, just thought it was normal but hard to deal with. That's why talking about some of the more awkward stuff is good then people can tell you that it isn't normal for them or that they have a different feeling about it. 

What did you do in your everyday life to feel better?

Distraction, videogames, friends, anything to keep busy so there's no space to think. 

What would you like people to know that might help end the stigma?

It's a state and it can change. It's not something that just is, and never lit it stay the familiar normal state of your life. For me I changed my chemistry that changes in food, the people around m, and what I choose to dwell on. Basically in that order, otherwise for me it was impossible to change...

Through Rose Tinted Glasses

The idea of the photo: 

It's 2013, the year I turned 30. I could not take it anymore. It was just too much. I thought I made the biggest mistake of my life and it is not worth living. I made the wrong decisions, again and again and there is no way back. How do these thoughts come to mind anyways? There is always a new start. New life. New beginning.
This photo shows it all. The confusion, the sacrifice, the lost identity. Everything I had to offer, family, career, home. Dirt is also symbolic, getting out of great depression I had the opportunity to work as a landscaper in North and West Van. Plants and new life, growth is very inspiring for the wounded soul and mind. Yoga was another way to find peace, still helps me through hard days. Travelling, of course, is our way to live - my family is overseas, we only see them once a year. Mask? I do extra work for movies, commercials - plus having to put the mask on in every day life too....
At the end I did not know who I was. I sacrificed so much, nothing left of me. Then I got on the path of building myself back. We have to find all the tools we need; takes time, but with the tugboat policy (confident, slow but sturdy) we will achieve any goal we set for ourselves.

When did you realize you had depression?

At the age of 30, found myself really sad in Canada, married to a wonderful man. Feeling like I am not enough (I still feel that way). Big mistakes I made , left everything I loved for marriage. I need to go back. But I can't, David is here and I love him. He won't come back with me. And it's not logical anyways. I will stay. And cry. Stay. Cry. Cry. Cry.
Till it got too much. 5 hours of crying a day was the worst period. Fall of 2013, when my sister moved to Vancouver and saved my life.

What would you like people to know about your depression?

Even on the darkest day you will find a tiny bit of light. Keep searching for more. Growing plants showed me that there is meaning, there is hope. Keeping great coping tools in your pocket helps.

What was one thing someone did for you that help you through the hard times?

Keep bugging me when I disappear, keeping an eye on the other is key. Going for walks. Cari hired me as a landscaper. Alex offered to take a picture of it. Hanna curled my hair. My Sister took me to yoga. My mother-in-law gave me a book about depression. They gave me a job at the family company. My grandma Mamillo skyped with me and we were baking cookies together. Everyone contributed.

The Path to Hope

Explain your photo as best you can:


This photo was perfectly captured to show me in a very dark place, confused, lonely and defeated. I am enclosed in a room, within a messy, unmade bed with crumpled papers beside me. The messy bed is a place where I stayed for days when at my lowest points. I felt as though I could not escape it. The crumpled papers show the efforts of writing I have attempted only to end up disappointed and throwing them into a fire. I am as well holding a pill bottle which symbolizes my struggles with taking medication for my depression and anxiety. There are various bottles all over the place, and this helps show that medication has and will be a large part of my self-care. I have taken many different types of antidepressants which has at times made me feel helpless. Finally, I have roadmaps in front of me which symbolizes my journey I have taken throughout my lifetime. It is chaotic and has no ending which symbolizes the chaotic journey I have taken in order to manage my mental health.

 

What would you like people to know about your depression/anxiety?


I want people to know that while this is a challenge I will unfortunately have to face for the rest of my life, it does not define who I am. My disorder has shaped the person I have become but it is not my sole identity. I as well want people to know that just because I need to take medication to help manage my depression/anxiety, it does not make me weak. It is something that I need to function day-to-day and the constant pill-shaming I see within our society is disappointing.

                                                                                         What was one thing someone did for you that helped                                                                                                  you through the hard times?


The one thing that helped me was when I finally told the important people in my life that I was struggling and they did not judge me nor think less of me. They wanted to learn more about depression and anxiety which helped me feel like they truly cared about what I was going through. They never thought of me as less of a person just because I had a mental illness. They still supported me and did not treat me differently.

What would you like people to know that might help end the stigma on depression/anxiety?


I want people to understand that just because an individual needs to take medication for their depression and anxiety does not mean they are ‘masking the problem’ or they are weaker because of it. There is a terrible pill-shaming stigma around mental illness that needs to be addressed....Everyone is different and therefore we need to examine everyone differently...I cannot stress enough how hard it was finding the right medication for me and the right dosage. But now that I have found it I feel more like myself than I ever have.

I hope this will page will continue to grow and become a source of hope for those who are suffering and provide a means of healing and communication for everyone.

If you would like to be apart of this project please feel free to contact me. 

 

© 2017 Sabrina Chevallier Toronto Food, Product, Portrait Photographer

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Sabrina Chevallier Photography

@s.chevphoto

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