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: “So many parts of this photo resonate to my overall well-being. I often feel that my emotions are a storm brewing that I somehow need to navigate through. Sometimes I abandon myself and try to escape the emotional pain through destructive acts. I have been much more healthy in the past year since my psychiatric hospitalization and use photography as a way to express myself. This shot speaks for itself on those dark days of utter abandonment with a storm coming in.”