Unfortunately, anxiety disorders top the list of the most common mental disorder in America, affecting 40 million adults age 18 or older. Even more disturbing, only about one-third of those suffering seek treatment of any kind, which means the majority of people that have an anxiety disorder have not gotten any help whatsoever.
Even though you probably can’t tell outwardly if someone suffers from anxiety, it still haunts them just the same on the inside. Many people with anxiety try to hide their symptoms so that others don’t ridicule them or reject them. Anxiety affects everyone differently, but for those who have it severely, it can completely debilitate them and make everyday life quite difficult.
Drawing on the fact that she’s suffered from anxiety and depression as well, Katie Joy Crawford created this collection of photographs depicting what it feels like to have mental disorders. The 23-year-old photography student from Baton Rouge, Louisiana presented this project for her senior thesis, and used a camera remote to capture each image.
“I want those that suffer to feel like they have a voice and a hand to hold. I never want anyone to feel alone, as anxiety and depression can be isolating on its own.”
The series, called My Anxious Heart, consists of 12 photographs, and Crawford spent about three hours on each photo. See if you can relate to any of these photos below.
These Photos Perfectly Capture What It’s Like To Live With Anxiety
Feeling trapped in life
“I’m afraid to live and I’m afraid to die. What a way to exist.”
Feeling like you can’t escape your own mind
“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.”
Feeling like you can’t breathe
“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.”
Feeling like you’re drowning in your thoughts
“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.”
The constant battle between depression and anxiety
“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.”
Feeling like your mind is a prison
“You were created for me and by me. You were created for my seclusion. You were created by 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.”
Feeling burdened by the monsters in your head
“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.”
Sleep seems like a distant memory
“I was scared of sleeping. I felt the most raw 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.”
The entire photo collection can be viewed here.
All photo credit goes to KatieJoyCrawford.com.