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Photo taken by first-time contributor Taylor McAvoy, a freelance photographer in Washington state who recently graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in journalism. At 23 years old, she has struggled with anxiety and depression for all of her adult life. She seeks to find meaning in the fear she faces every day and make these challenges into something valuable; a visual expression, a deeper understanding, or simply a reflection.
About this photo: “I live with anxiety and have been for a long time. I fought this feeling at every turn dismissing it for something that I can easily overcome. I tried to put myself out there, go to parties, events, etc. I do genuinely enjoy being around others and meeting new people, but it was exhausting. I never knew when the room would start spinning and when I would struggle to breathe. In any given situation, a panic attack could strip me of my slowly built confidence, charisma, and happiness. All that I built myself up to be over the last four years could come crashing down around me in one second.
I wanted this self-portrait to show both my struggle with anxiety and my effort to be an honest human being; an effort to lay my flaws out on the table in hopes that I can better understand both myself and those around me. I chose to show defensiveness in my body language while at the same time, laying my skin bare in the photo to show vulnerability. My eye contact with the camera should be direct with the viewer. I chose this direct eye contact as a defiance to the vulnerability and fears I felt while making this image. Eye contact also symbolizes my ability to directly confront those anxious thoughts or anything that might stand in my way. Even though I am vulnerable, flaws laid bare, I can still find purpose and confidence in myself.”