Photo taken by first-time contributor Kate, a 21-year-old Sociology major turned photographer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Kate was diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar I Disorder and anxiety in high school after having a manic episode with psychotic features. She currently has taken over 26 different behavioral health medications since the age of 14. She is a survivor of sexual assault and is currently trying to regain control of her illness. Photography has always been her main means of therapy when other forms of help simply did not work. She is particularly adept at DSLR photography and is slowly breaking into the world of film photography. The look of her photographs is similar to that of Cecil Beaton or Bert Stern. Her favorite subjects to photograph include nature, different aspects of people, and events as they happen.
About this photo: “Oh, if I had a dollar for every single time I heard the phrase “Oh my, she’s so bipolar”, I would be out of student loan debt. My illness, although one of the most chronic and well known of all the mental disorders, is not experienced by most of the general population. Many people will never truly know what living in a “Bipolar” brain is like. There is something beautiful to be observed and learned from the person afflicted by a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder. There is secrecy; there is depth; there is passion beyond measure; there is understanding of planes in which non afflicted individuals will never pass through. We have almost an otherworldly quality; where our mental stability is lacking, we are more prominently independent thinkers, intelligent beings, philosophers, lovers, photographers, clairvoyants, actresses, and visionaries. We are all different and yet we are all united by the same adversary. Our resilience mimics that of kings or soldiers; our strength is that of a diamond. Most of us are only here because we didn’t see it in our hearts to die at the time in which we had previously chosen; because the need to continue far outweighed the need to cease. I think that throughout my life, I was always taught to push it out; that normalcy was the glorified and only way of living. Although I fight my daily battles on the outside; my adversary lies unseen and undetected to the naked eye. It lies in wait and slowly wreaks its own havoc on my life. Walks here and there, sometimes disguised as a friend, but somehow manages to become an enemy. But in order to survive; in order to be free, and in order to continue, we must embrace what we were given and live with it, not lie in shadows because of it.”
Find more from Kate at her blog.
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