— “What It Looks Like” is an ongoing photographic exploration into the stories of individuals who have experienced depression, anxiety, grief, mood disorders, or any other mental illness. This project aims to share awareness, end stigma, and create dialogue and open communication around mental health. Instead of asking what it feels like, I’ve asked each person ‘What does it look like?’ —
I met Chiara last year and we connected over photography and our love of London. Very quickly we discussed the What It Looks Like project and she expressed interest in being involved. Chiara is a talented blogger and photographer and I appreciate her sharing her story below.
My name is Chiara and I have been working as a blogger and influencer for the past 10 years. Mental health is one of the topics I have talked about on my blog and social profiles. I’d love to give a small contribute to help end the stigma around them.
I searched for help on my own at 19 when I started having suicidal thoughts and I have been in therapy on and off ever since.
Still now, seen from the outside I have the perfect life: a wonderful job as an influencer that allows me to travel the world, a family of my own which I love very much and I have everything to be grateful for.
This is very true.
The fact that the mind gets ill as well despite how good your life is, that is equally true.
There is a lot of judgement around people who don’t fall into the mental health patient cliché. That is why I feel it’s very important to talk about issues like depression, anxiety and more even and especially if from the outside you’re perceived as a “successful” person.
For two main reasons: first, I want to prove that you CAN make your dreams come true and have a beautiful life despite your illnesses.
Yes, it’s a constant fight and yes, it’s harder that it is for other people. Sometimes even getting out of bed and getting dressed takes an enormous amount of energy and will. But you can do it. Your mental illness does not define who you are. It’s just another thing that you have, not that you are.
Second, I want people to feel safer in searching for help. Many times I was not taken seriously because I was too smiley, or too professional, or had grades too high, or I wore clothes too pretty, or I was too good at my job, or travelled too much to suffer for mental health.
But mental health has no face. And any person, no matter how good how his/her life can seem, needs to be listened to when they admit to struggle.
“What does it look like when you’re feeling your mental health isn’t well?”
I feel like I have no access to life around me. As if I’m seeing everything through a glass that doesn’t allow me to feel anything but this huge sense of darkness and despair. In there, my worst thoughts echo all the time. Even the things that I usually love don’t give me any feeling, don’t nourish me anymore.
It’s like I am living, but away from life. And no matter how hard I try; that glass seems unbreakable.
The worst part: I know being away hurts the people around me. My kid, my husband, my friends. So there’s also a lot of guilt that comes from being stuck on the other side of that glass. And that doubles up the pain.
“What does it look like when you’re feeling your mental health is better?”
When I am in a good place, I feel I am the queen of my life again.
It’s a powerful sensation. It’s not depression or anxiety that rule my thoughts and my actions: it’s me again.
I feel free and I feel 100% in charge of my days. It’s like my possibilities are endless, and my mind is filled with hope, determination, creativity and energy.
I am a little bit magical, on those days. And I embrace this magic a lot.
I can be the best version of myself and I can offer this version to the people I love, too.
I HOPE THAT BY SHARING THIS STORY AND THESE IMAGES THAT IF YOU’RE FEELING THIS, YOU FEEL UNDERSTOOD AND THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD THAT CARE AND THAT ARE STANDING WITH YOU. IF YOU NEED RESOURCES, PLEASE VISIT WWW.CMHA.CA OR WWW.HEADSUPGUYS.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SUPPORT.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT, PLEASE EMAIL JOEL@JOELROBISON.COM