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If you’re someone who suffers from anxiety you know how hard it can be sometimes to describe what you’re going through or feeling. While it is a very common mental illness, it’s not easy to explain. 

The artist Katie Joy Crawford who has battled anxiety as well as depression throughout her life knows all too well how hard it can be to explain to others what is going on in your mind and as a result really put her creativity to use. She presented a very interesting project for her senior thesis that broke down in big ways what these kinds of things could be like personified. I know, that might sound odd, but after you see her work, you will really understand how powerful photographs can be. 

Katie wrote as follows on these images when first posting them to her blog:

Spring of 2015 has been busy, trying, amazing and life changing. I have been through so many emotional peaks and valleys and finalizing my senior year has been such a cathartic experience. My Anxious Heart is nothing short of my child. I have battled anxiety for a decade, and I finally have been able to capture it and expose it in the light. I want to thank every single person who has been a part of this journey. From the first, small idea to the final exhibition, this project has taught me, challenged, me and changed me. I hope it can be a source of healing for others as it has been for me. Thank you for coming to view it and please let me know if you have any feedback! I’d love to hear from you.

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.

Through this body of work, I am visually interpreting my own emotional and physical journey so that others may be able to understand this weight that so many bear in our society. The physical ramifications of the disorder, such as a racing heart, dizziness, shortness of breath and lightheadedness, frequently go unnoticed or are misinterpreted by those who have never suffered from anxiety. Although the physical symptoms make up a great deal of the disorder, the emotional outcome is exceedingly difficult to encapsulate as well. Anxiety bars the sufferer from the risk of discovery, the desire to explore new ideas, and the possibility of exiting a comfort zone. It makes sure that it will never be alone. It finds you when you’re in the midst of joy, or alone in your own mind. It is quiet and steady, reminding you of your past failures, and fabricating your future outcomes.

My interpretation of these symptoms through my images aids in the explanation of how true anxiety has the capability to drain every last drop of aspiration. This representation is achieved in the photograph with the use of black objects and materials that subtly interact within the frame. Manipulating the images in this way evokes a sense of overprotection and lingering presence. By providing these surreal images as expressions of anxiety within a realistic portrait, the viewer is guided through the internal and external struggle of a person living with this disorder. Using my own stories and experiences, I am capturing the raw essence of anxiety. Through this personal journey, I have grown and found that depicting my fears has become therapeutic, as well as a gateway for others to express their oppression and begin their own healing process.

Below you will be able to see some of these photographs for yourself. Which ones stand out to you the most? Which one describes what your anxiety is the most if you are someone who struggles with it? I, for one, seem to identify highly or the most with the one in the bathtub. 

While there are also others to this photo set, I think you get the idea. These photos have been circulating for years now and are still quite powerful. I think they are something everyone needs to see.