Life with anxiety can be tough.
This series of beautiful photographs accurately depicts all the challenges of a life with anxiety. How ironic it is that people cannot live without fear and that at the same time, fear accompanies almost all psychological disorders. Fear is a powerful tool that shaped the evolution of human beings.
I honestly think that only truly stupid people are fearless. Just for a second, imagine that you don’t fear to put your hand in a fire. You put your hand in and within minutes you would lose your hand. Experiencing pain in your arm is the same as experiencing mental pain, in both cases your brain is telling you that something is wrong and that you need to take care of it.
Too much fear can cause psychological problems that can make life a waking nightmare. All anxieties are divided into three categories: panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. The symptoms of anxiety depend on the type of disorder, but common of all anxiety disorders are the feeling of unease and having problems sleeping. These and other struggles of a life with anxiety are brilliantly depicted in the series of images made by Katie Joy Crawford.
It can often be heard that people who experience psychological problems are weak and their characters are full of flaws. This is nonsense and if you ever hear someone talking this trash, tell them they have no idea what they are talking about! Nobody knows what causes these disorders. The most educated guess is that it is a combination of factors that triggers changes in the brain. Stress, trauma, hereditary factors can all influence the way the brain cells that regulate fear and other emotions transmit information.
Art has proven to be a successful way to express emotions that are troubling you and in a way let go of them. Painting, sculpting, and other artistic forms are often used as therapy for treating patients who suffer from mental illnesses. That is why it comes as no surprise that a young photographer chose to express how she felt through images.
Katie Joy Crawford is a 23-year-old photographer based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who knows what life with anxiety is like. In a body of work named My Anxious Heart that served as her senior thesis, she shows how intense and intimidating the battle for the peace of mind can be. These self-portraits are portraying a person who is alone in her fear, helpless and not able to find a way out of the labyrinth of her own mind. In her artist statement, Katie describes her idea in these words:
My Anxious Heart explores and identifies how emotionally and physically depleting general anxiety disorder can be from a personal perspective. As I have carried anxiety for the majority of my life, I’ve chosen to photographically depict this battle and its constant presence. Since it is within my own mind where anxiety is born, I have decided to interpret my roles as both instigator and victim through self-portraiture.
All art is communication of one sort or another, and saying what you need to say is the greatest gift art can offer. Hearing people react to your work is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have as an artist. It brings joy to know that there is someone out there who appreciates what you do. Here is how Katie responded to the overwhelming support she got from her fans:
So many people have responded with “I don’t feel alone anymore”. I have to say, you all have let me know that I’m not alone! I’m going through it too, and having your support and encouragement has meant the world to me.
Maybe the Russian poet Osip Mendelstram was right when he wrote these lines:
…And in this prison of a world I’m not alone, When I move, when I breathe, I leave my mark, On the everlasting window pane that keeps out the dark….
Scroll down and enjoy Katie’s My Anxious Heart, the series of photographs that depicts her life with anxiety. All the captions are a part of the concept and all the credits go to Katie Joy Crawford.
If you like Katie’s work, make sure to visit her website.
Here we go:
A captive of my own mind. The instigator of my own thoughts. The more I think, the worse it gets. The less I think, the worse it gets. Breathe. Just breathe. Drift. It’ll ease soon.
I was scared of sleeping. I felt the rawest panic in complete darkness. Actually, complete darkness wasn’t scary. It was that little bit of light that would cast a shadow — a terrifying shadow.
They keep telling me to breathe. I can feel my chest moving up and down. Up and down. Up and down. But why does it feel like I’m suffocating, I hold my hand under my nose, making sure there is air. I still can’t breathe.
Numb feeling. How oxymoronic. How fitting. Can you actually feel numb or is it the inability to feel am I so used to being numb that I’ve equated it to an actual feeling.
A glass of water isn’t heavy. It’s almost mindless when you have to pick one up. But what if you couldn’t empty it or set it down, what if you had to support its weight for days… months… years The weight doesn’t change, but the burden does. At a certain point, you can’t remember how light it used to seem. Sometimes it takes everything in you to pretend it isn’t there. And sometimes, you just have to let it fall.”
“You were created for me and by me. You were created for my seclusion. You were created by the venomous defense. You are made of fear and lies. Fear of unrequited promises and losing trust so seldom given. You’ve been forming my entire life. Stronger and stronger.”
Depression is when you can’t feel at all. Anxiety is when you feel too much. Having both is a constant war within your own mind. Having both means never winning.
My head is filling with helium. Focus is fading. Such a small decision to make. Such an easy question to answer. My mind isn’t letting me. It’s like a thousand circuits are all crossing at once.
It’s strange — in the pit of your stomach. It’s like when you’re swimming and you want to put your feet down, but the water is deeper than you thought. You can’t touch the bottom and your heart skips a beat.
Cuts so deep, it’s like they’re never going to heal. Pain so real, it’s almost unbearable. I’ve become this… this cut, this wound. All I know is this same pain; sharp breath, empty eyes, shaky hands. If it’s so painful, why let it continue? Unless… maybe it’s all that you know.
No matter how much I resist, it’ll always be right here desperate to hold me, cover me, break down with me. Each day I fight it, “you’re not good for me and you never will be”. But there it is waiting for me when I wake up and eager to hold me as I sleep. It takes my breath away. It leaves me speechless.
I’m afraid to live and I’m afraid to die. What a way to exist.
What is your opinion about these photographs? Do they accurately capture the struggles of a life with anxiety?