Beneath The Side Effects


Photo by contributor Brandy, a 37-year-old Certified Veterinary Technician and photographer from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, who alongside her Pomeranian, Zipper, has devoted her life to animal advocacy and photography. Brandy was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2004, amongst a myriad of other mental afflictions, but has suffered from severe clinical depression and anxiety since the age of 12. Brandy struggles daily with mental health challenges and has had multiple hospitalizations over the years. She finds solace behind her camera, and often times in front of it as a self portrait artist, creating conceptual images that allow her to express her emotions and feelings in a creative and safe way.

About this photo: “Pills. And more pills. Constantly changing pills, ever trying to find that “magic cocktail” of normalcy. Pills to fall asleep, pills to stay asleep, pills to stave off nightmares. Pills to fight my joy stealing depression, pills to boost my mood, pills to help me focus. Antipsychotic pills to, well, keep me sane. Pills to keep me calm. Then there is my “emergency” pills. The list is seemingly never ending. Better living through pharmacology right?! Perhaps. Sometimes I feel lost in the pills, like I’ve become this emotionless zombie just going through the motions and the real me is trapped inside somewhere beneath all the side effects. I struggle to remember me, to know who I actually am. Sometimes, often actually, I want to quit them all…throw them out and see what kind of woman emerges. Only I’ve done that, and it’s not as freeing as it sounds or as you think it might be. But the truth is, all these pills, they keep me out of the hospital. They keep the monsters at bay, for the most part. They keep me functioning at an acceptable level. Their colorful capsules hard at work on the parts of my brain that function improperly. Even with weekly therapy and twice monthly visits to my doctor…I need them. I take them for me, but more so, I take them for my family. I know the hell I’ve gone through and I’ve seen first hand the hell they go through and the trail of destruction I leave in my wake when I’ve stopped taking them in the past. It’s not worth it. So morning and night I take a deep breath and swallow my handful of candy colored pills that soon become a pharmaceutical concoction swirling through my veins and carry on, because that is all I can do….carry on. ”

Find more at her website and Instagram @brandyhuntleyphotography


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6 thoughts on “Beneath The Side Effects

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  1. Your writing is honest and very moving, and the image is very well done, too. I hope that things will mellow out gradually, over time, and at the same time new treatments with fewer SE’s will be ofund. But meanwhile, please keep writing and taking pictures – key pieces of the overall health picture, right?!


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