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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: “At times with my mental illness I feel like I am an aimless wanderer. I find myself trying to navigate my symptoms of anxiety and feel like I am wandering through this world. Some days are better then others where I am in charge not my symptoms and I am not wondering through life. Other days are more of a challenge and the best I can do is wander and hope it is enough. This photograph shows many wanderers which is symbolic to all of those who struggle with mental illness and at times wander through life. The struggle is real but with courage and perseverance we can strive for stability even if that means wandering at times.”