SELF-PORTRAITS

CYCLES OF

DEPRESSION

After one of the worst periods of my life, I wanted to use photography as a mechanism to help me grow. I've wanted to tackle a project about mental health for years, but it seemed like a daunting task; however, I knew it was time to share how I felt to the world.  

MENTAL HEALTH

        Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with mental health. I have always felt a bit distant from everyone else around me. In middle school, my issues emerged from the surface without warning. Every force abruptly threw me over the edge and I was caught in the midst of my own creation with no control. 

       Summer for a kid is supposed to radiate a kind of glowing energy; where everything is happy and full of memories. For me, summers were more dreadful than school itself. Instead of swimming in the cool waters of the pool, I was crying with no end, constructing a pool with tears. I was having panic attacks, running around my house screaming and bawling. It all came to an abrupt ending as I spiraled into a depressive episode. I didn’t eat, I barely slept, and I did absolutely nothing but cry for days. I was isolated and ravaged with anger; no one seemed to feel sympathy for me. All I perceived was annoyed glares and the embarrassment of having a child with unruly issues. Internally, I felt pain; I saw the pain in my parents’ eyes, and I knew it was because of me. For years, I was confused and felt I was to blame for my persisting problems. However, as aging continues understanding grows. As a high schooler, I began to unravel my suppressed mental health issues and attempt to comprehend their nature. What I’ve found is that there is a cyclical nature to depression; there is a pattern with ebbs and flows. 

        It was difficult for me to approach this project. I was scared of it; terrified of what it may provoke and what I might find hidden deep within. It seemed like a daunting task; however, it helped me better understand myself. My cycle emerges with a battle within extreme darkness, with seemingly no escape. It then produces a state of confusion; a cry for help, a question unanswered. I always tend to ponder over the “why.” Next, however, comes growth. Growth, to me, has always meant gradual improvement. The world doesn’t instantaneously become beautiful once again, it takes time. Finally, is light. A stage where I am able to look back at the worst and hope for the new. 

DARKNESS

Black and white describe a battle of light and dark; attempting to breach from the melancholy to reach the light. 

FIGHT IN DARKNESS

The fight within darkness is hard to describe... here are some words I wrote from a dark point in my life to help articulate this fight: "For weeks, I plummeted into a spiraling abyss of obscurity and mental deterioration. I believed the world had given up on me. I saw my life slowly dwindling into utter emptiness and nothingness. The pain I felt consumed me, refusing to let go of the relentless grasp it had on my life. Forever will I remember the numbness of this pain. The days I spent sobbing myself to sleep, the moments where my brain seemed absent from my physical being, the sensation of dread and misery that stole my innocence and ravaged my soul. Forever will I remember the day and instant where I almost let go of whatever was left of me." 

CONFUSION

Why must this happen to me? How come I never feel happy? Why do I have to fight my own self?

HOPELESS

I always find within the midst of depressive episodes there is a moment of confusion. A cry for help. A beg for it to all end. The confusion manifests in the "why." Throughout my life, I have had to feud my own mind to achieve happiness. It puzzled me as a child and I still have yet to understand it. There is a brief period where I feel utterly hopeless; however, there is still panic. Blur. Confusion. To have to spend weeks and months fixing your own mind to become "normal" once again is exhausting.

For this phase, I thought red lights were fitting. Red is darker, it contains more edge. The color itself emphasizes the obscurity of depression followed by the loss of faith.  

GROWTH

To change and eventually flourish.

To hope for better.

LIKE A PLANT,WE GROW

        Growth doesn't equate to pure fulfillment. Growth is the in-between. The part of this cycle where life seemingly moves forward. It is almost short of an epiphany. 

       "Like a plant, we grow" is profund to me. Plants need nutrients to gradually grow into a vivacious bounty of life. Humans need it as well. We need time, thought, and support to eventually breach from the depths of the dark. Growth is a step forward to the light. 

LIGHT

To feel free from the darkness

To admire its beauty, but leave it in the dusk

My heart glows knowing it is over

        To articulate my thoughts I wrote a short essay regarding this spiritual experience: "While the penetrating gloom of depression and suicide loomed over my head periodically, it served second to how I felt when I escaped its wrath. The beauty of the light I found within myself was worth every doubt I had of my existence. It’s odd how pain can lead to beauty; how darkness can induce a period growth. From the worst moments of my life, I’ve learned to internalize the warmth of love and transfer it to another. Suffering, in total, is only temporary; I feel as though I’m better for it. 

        I remember one day vividly, where everything felt beautiful again.  Instantly, as I stepped inside into the golden sombers of the sun, I exhausted the remaining light as it all spiraled into my soul. Ambience. Beauty. The world suddenly accentuated the love I shared within my youth. With my camera rested beside my hip, I felt its vibration, its passion, its thirst and compelling urge to capture what lied in front of my tearful eyes. It’s odd really; how the universe had this peculiar way of supplying me with the grace I so desperately needed.From the sunlight I consume, I grow and flourish. The cold, brisk and trying times of the winter have passed. The physical and emotional scars that rest within every inch of my body will never fully heal, but it serves to remind me who I am and who I have become."

OUR HEARTS GLOW