1 in 4 people have a mental health issue. Its not something we talk about in polite conversation, ask me about my dodgy hip or bad back but don't mention the depression or talk about how i couldn't even get off the couch today.
We all have bad days and good days but what about when bad is more, who do we talk to? who can we talk to? Why is it so hard for people to talk about Mental Health.
This project isn't about fixing people, its just about talking, photography is how I have chosen to highlight the issue and I was asked recently why 1000 faces?
Well, its more than 100 and less than 10,000, no other reason, it just seemed like a good number.
Over the months I have taken photographs all over the country and that 1 in 4 statistic I think is way off the mark, everyone I talk to has been touched by mental health issues, either them selves, friends or relatives.......
My goal, to take and exhibit 1000 Photographs and meet some amazing people with incredible stories along the way...
So tell me, What's Your Story?
Long term exposure to traumatic events, for instance: being held captive or living in a warzone or experiencing prolonged torture can have a profound effect on a human being, leading to chronic psychological harm and emotional issues. My childhood was a car crash in slow motion, my teens the resultant explosion and the next decade brought the inevitable fallout. Age thirty I could no longer hide my failing mental health and finally sought help. This was possibly the hardest part, how do you even begin to unravel a lifetime of bad stuff that's so ingrained and hidden away? Well, you start by talking about it. To someone you trust. A loved one. Your doctor. It doesn't matter so much who, it's more about empowering yourself to accept what happened and accept the change needed to heal. That begins when you want it to begin, you have that power, believe me. I am Agoraphobic. I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression. Panic Disorder. So fucking what? I'm also an artist, a husband, a father, a support worker. I'm on a quest to be a better human being and to spread some goodness around me as I step out into the good of life again.
My name is Mandy and I think my first experience with depression and anxiety came when I was as young as about fourteen. Our family moved to Scotland where my broad Lancastrian accent attracted the attention of the school bullies. I hated it. Mum and Dad were arguing loads. Dad drank heavily and money was tight. I remember sitting with the family medicine tin one night and thinking would anyone miss me if I took all these tablets and just wasn’t here anymore. I left home as soon as I could after that and was pretty much self contained, all went well for a few years.
Then I fell pregnant and miscarried. Again I had a bout of depression which I just ignored as best as I could. I split up with my partner and ended up in a relationship that was all consuming but not particularly healthy for me. My confidence disappeared and rather than face the fact that it was the relationship I needed to get out of I ended up on anti-depressants to try and “fix” myself.
I stopped taking them when I realized they couldn’t fix the relationship. It ended eventually and I met my current partner a couple of years later. He is so supportive and we have always got on fantastically. We went through a period when he lost his parents and suffered a bout of acute stress which hospitalized him. Then in a very short space of time my nephew committed suicide, my dad died and my mum found out she had only six months to live.
Things were horrendous and to cap it all I became ill although I wasn’t aware I had a problem. It caused me to lose my job and almost cost me my relationship. I didn’t recognize myself, I was sleeping for about sixteen hours a day, had no energy at all. Put on lots of weight, suffered from severe memory problems, irritability, anxiety, depression, fluid retention, being incredibly paranoid and hostile. I tried cognitive behavioural therapy which I found interesting but couldn’t help me as much as I needed it to.
I was still tired, crying constantly and suicidal. People told me it was grief so I went to see a councellor who told me she thought it was a physical problem. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. I was put on medication to treat it and one year on things have improved dramatically. I still suffer with anxiety and depression but they are always going to be symptoms of the condition. I thought it was a weakness to take anti-depressants before, that it meant I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the mess my head was in. Now I know depression is an illness like any other.
I take medication for thyroid which allows me function, I take anti-depressants to help with the anxiety and my quality of life has improved dramatically. I laugh, I have fun. I hardly recognize myself sometimes. I just thought I was a person who was never meant to be happy, that the universe had conspired against me. That is not the case, depression is an illness which has the power to isolate people. Treat your depression. Help yourself in any way you can. In the words of the advert “you’re worth it”.
Maybe I’ll feel this way without medication one day. It would be nice, but I no longer feel weak or ashamed to admit I have depression. So what. I also have big feet and a mouth that gets me into trouble sometimes. I am just me. Warts and all. I have good friends, a nice family and a wonderful partner. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Hi, my name is Dawn, and this is my story. I started with a metal health illness called depression at the age of 21 yrs old, caused by my ex who enjoyed playing mind games with me . My depression had made a very deep impact on my family at time, my depression took me to a very dark place where I couldn’t even look after my own family or my home. After a very long battle with the local authority, I lost the battle.
My depression does effect me in many different ways, there are times I feel very alone, I would lose my temper very quickly over tiny stuff. Their were days where I would just cry. I spent most of my time in night clubs trying to block out the pain. As I tried to move on with my life, I enrolled into some colleges to learn new skills. I also did the prince trust with Manchester fire unit, I’ve also been holding a job down, even when I suffer my low days.
In last seven months, I’ve been told I’ve suffer from post traumatic stress , which has been really hard for me because of the flash backs I endure from dreams . The flash backs mainly happen once I fall asleep at the end of day. There were nights I would only have about 4hrs sleep due to a traumatic event I suffered 2 yrs ago. Which I find very hard to cope with the events which took place a very long time ago. I have had to deal with a lot of issue from my past,
I’m hoping one day I will be able to come of my meds all together, I’m taking one day at a time
My illness scares me at times because I don’t want my own daughter to see me when I feel upset or I am crying, when I feel in low mood, I know my depression has an affect on my own family at times . I know, depression is never easy to live with, I’ve manger to find ways to help me to cope. When I start feeling down or when I struggles to do home task.
I know living with depression can be struggle, but its doesn't have to be with the right support and network set up. I know its hard to speak out or ask for help, I think it will be good for people who can pick up the phone to call a help line just to hear a voice, for someone to listen to you while talk. Their where days I wished their were help lines or some where to go without waiting for long time, I could speak to someone about my pain.
I've used counseling service before to talk about my depression, pain, fears, love and upset. I find counseling service hard to talked about emotions which I have been bottled up for a long time. I would so never give up on treatment or seeing a counselor however hard or painful, you as person come out feeling better.
It's has taken me time to find happiness in my life after a very long time of struggles with up and downs, with help and support from brilliant friends and my wonderful husband.
I can final say I’ve found happiness and I know I’m in a good place with my friends and family.