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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: “This was my first experience with self-portraiture work. I wanted to do something with my meds. At the end of the day it is my meds that keep me alive. I have a love hate relationship with them. I always take them, but hate that I need them. Then again, I appreciate how they help me function. I have been symptomatic for the past two months and more then ever the medication have kept me alive. Lots of adjustments have needed to be made, but at the end of the day I am staying alive because of my meds. So today I choose to be thankful despite my expression in the photograph.”