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Photo taken by contributor Danielle in New York City. She is a woman with bipolar disorder, and accompanying anxiety and depression. She used to work full time and ride the subway daily, but is no longer able to.
About this photo: “I remember him clearly. The urban cowboy. The faceless man all in black. He sat across from me on what would be my last subway ride. I couldn’t help but look. He seemed so out of place. His black boots scuffed but taken care of. Cowboy hat, worn but loved, shielding his averted eyes.
We sat a few mere feet from each other, but we never made eye contact. The subway seemed clean that day, save for the occasional abandoned paper bag or newspaper page. It still smelled though, that thick musky scent I used to know so well.
He looked down at his phone, never once looking up. Probably zoning out to Johnny Cash or Garth Brooks, crooning through his black ear buds. I wondered if he the felt the fear that I did. The anxiety about being trapped underground. I wondered if that phone was a comfort item to manage his fear, until I realized that what he probably was afraid of was looking up and seeing crazy people like me.
I don’t know when I turned from being the person staring at the phone, to the person who others try to avoid making eye contact with. But somehow it happened. Somehow I became the crazy one. And somehow I fear stigma will keep me that way.”