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Please welcome first-time contributor Mafalda Ar, a 24-year-old woman from Portugal. Mafalda has struggled with an anxiety disorder for several years, as well as bipolar disorder. She lives in a small home with her recently widowed grandfather. For years she has struggled with a fear of failing, of loving, of losing, and even of living. She masked her anxious depression with practical stuff such as school and hobbies. Her fears and emotional pain have prevented her from developing in her personal and professional life. They have also reduced her sleep to close to none, and caused her lungs to hurt from hard breathing. She is still looking to find a way of dealing with herself and her challenges, but has been unsuccessful so far. Meanwhile she keeps a personal archive of self-portraits through the hard times called, Memoir of Moods and Madness.
About this photo: “I was alone at home, working on a college paper for several hours. My boyfriend was at work, and it would be a perfect opportunity to catch up with my late work. Unfortunately, my anxiety decided it was a wonderful moment as well to strike. Anxiety knows its owner’s weaknesses and it will certainly start by breaking you down using those. First it was nothing, just a fear of not finish before the deadline, but in a matter of minutes I was shaking, crying and all sorts of bad thoughts crossed my brain, rupturing it almost. For all I know, I must have like blacked out with my eyes open. I only knew I would not want to feel like that again. Photography is my most favorite tool for memory and self-awareness, although I absolutely hate being photographed. That day, I had my camera ready and set on my desk, and several minutes after all the episode started, the annoying voice told me to take a picture. I didn’t now what I was looking for, but I took it. I was expecting the visual expression of tears, fear, or even a random smile, but none of it was there. Because of my anxiety, I just could not stand for the camera. I learned that day that besides a lot of other things, even my urge of moving and running around seemed to be the anxiety itself.”