Photo taken by Stephanie Cook, of Knoxville, TN. She has suffered from anxiety and depression for many years.
Depression and anxiety have been dark acquaintances of mine since I was a child. I have always felt like the one on the outside looking in at the world, hiding myself away from the hurt and pain, not realizing I was building a wall between me and those who could help me. I started photographing the Masquerade series a few months ago without any real reason behind it other than the fact that I love masks, or so I thought. As I began shooting them I couldn’t help but feel the strong emotional connection with the concept of the images. The mask represents shame, anger, depression, anxiety, panic, fear, etc. and for those of us who live with these we begin to see ourselves as the thing that haunts us. We need to realize that we are not the hurt that has been done to us, we are strong and we can make it through, there is hope. The mask does not define us.