Photo taken by contributor CJ, a 31-year-old female living in Chicago, Illinois. CJ has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder for the past 12 years. In September 2014, her symptoms flared and she developed intrusive thoughts. For CJ these thoughts were highly distressing as the content was related to harming herself and others. She was diagnosed with OCD at that time and began an intensive partial hospitalization program (PHP). CJ has since graduated from her PHP program, returned to work, and has been able to manage her symptoms. The intrusive thoughts have mostly subsided, but still flare up in times of great stress. CJ now has tools to deal with the thoughts and continues to participate in individual therapy. She has found photography to be a healthy outlet. Through photography CJ is able to replace some of the distressing violent images in her mind with positive and uplifting images. Photography has become a daily aspect of her life that promotes stability and wellness.
About this photo: “This photo was taken in a cemetery in the North suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. For me, the photo represents a fragile angel. The angel is curled up holding onto her body due to feeling fragile. It reminds me of how I have felt so many times with this illness. My instinct is to contract when feeling overwhelmed, distressed, alone, and hurt instead of opening up or expanding myself to others. So despite this angel’s contraction she remains a beautiful angel representing hope and peace. I aspire to no longer contract when distressed and open myself to the love of others and that internal peace that can be achieved by doing this leaving me feel less fragile.”