Self Portraits + My History with Depression and Eating Disorders | Seattle Portrait Photographer
a little more about me
Sometimes I feel so much joy and beauty, that my heart breaks thinking of losing it. Sometimes I am faced with so much nameless fear that I can’t move. I took photos while I was going through this pattern I know so intimately this summer (2019).
A few weeks after I turned 25, I found myself sitting in a hotel lobby outside of Philadelphia with my parents, panic filling my esophagus with acid, watching the Oscars with the other guests and feeling the most surreal I had ever felt. The next day I would check into an inpatient treatment facility for girls and women with eating disorders and all of the other mental illnesses and burdens that accompany them.
At the time, David and I were living in Houston. Despite the fact that since we had moved there a year and a half earlier, I had made friends, been promoted, and gotten engaged, I was also harming myself and terrified that I would do worse. I had taken a leave from my job and was doing intensive outpatient group treatment, but it wasn’t enough. I have struggled with anxiety since I was a small child and depression since at least middle school. This wasn’t even my first stop-everything-and-get-help situation. When I was 21 and living in Boston attending college, my mom and David teamed up and got me into a car. I hadn’t really left my bed in weeks when my mom arrived. Sobbing and hysterical was my way of life. We drove up the coast, breathed in the salty air, and made a plan that resulted in me going home to Texas to try and recover. After living at home and then in Dallas with David all the while going to therapy, trying medications, I thought I was better. I was wrong.
I was a patient at Renfrew for nearly two months. I worked hard. I participated. I told groups of people my greatest fears and learned how to meditate, how to eat without binging or restricting again, how to get up every day and take things one step at a time. I learned that I didn’t have to deny the fact that I had an eating disorder because I wasn’t 80 lbs. Depression, ED, anxiety, failure, success- it looks different on everyone.
I am 33 years old now. I still binge, but I am working on it. I still hate myself at times, but I am fighting through that harder than ever for my sweet child. I want him to see me as an example of acceptance and love. For myself and for those around me. I still sob in the middle of the night, terrified of everything, feeling a sense of doom that shakes me to my core, but I try and ground myself in today, in my breathing.
For years I felt ungrateful and stupid for not being happy. There are people facing genocides, facing terrors that I can’t imagine. Now I know that it is important to be validated and to validate yourself. I can have my struggles, and still have a place to exist. These days I struggle less. I think I am propelled forward by Rufus. By this life I fought so hard to bring into the world. But I do still struggle.