OCD-Has to be a Certain Way

“This is my table. The only table that I have. Everything placed on this table has its proper place that it is returned to each time that I pick it up. It has to be this way. I cannot help it. I wish I could change the need to make this exactness exist, but I cannot. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. This is just one example of what it looks like for me.”


Bridge was Suicide to Me

“I was always thinking of ways that I could die. It is not a good way to walk through life...very dark [...] I had many plans for suicide and some of them involved bridges and the best ways to ensure that you die in case just falling over the bridge doesn’t kill you and of itself. [...] It’s nice now to look over and see a nice view and not see a potential death [...] even further, to not see a potential death that I want.”


Crow Trapped in Branches

“The Beatles [...] blackbird song [...] it’s very much been a narrative for my life. ‘Blackbird singing in the dead of night...[take these broken wings] and learn to fly, all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive [...] take these sunken eyes and learn to see [...] When I changed, that became very much real for me [...] Before then I couldn’t open my eyes, and then I did. And then I really saw things [...] as of for the first time [...] And now I’ve done so many things that I had given up on doing in my         life [...] And I realize, I can start my life now.”


Child-like Emotions Sometimes

“A child dressing up in adult shoes. [...] sometimes [...] one doesn’t always grow up intellectually at the same speed as they grow emotionally. And there’s nothing they can do about it until their brain or their heart or a combination of both has subsided from a traumatic experience that caused the chasm to exist. [...] When I was 14, something so traumatic happened to me [...] that something froze in me. And part of me had to stop right there, stop developing, so it did. I grew in size, I learned new things, I got smarter, I wore bigger shoes. But inside, I was still that little girl [...] ”


Trapped Behind Bars

“Mental illness can make me feel trapped from many things, as if kept behind some barrier that makes it very difficult to cross [...] that I just couldn’t burst through because of stigma [...] I take care of my illnesses much better now because I’m able to be responsible for them, but even so, there are times when I still have relapses and it’s frustrating because I’m kept behind the crowd who are able to excel in ways that I’m not there yet.”


Facing a Bigger World

“Dealing with mental illness, day in and day out, takes a toll no matter what I say, even to myself. The difficulty of it can make me feel overwhelmed and so small--not in stature, but in significance--relative to what’s around me. Grit and determination are qualities that I carry with me always. Yet still I have to force myself some days to pull through and face a bigger world.”


Rocks are Hardship, Hands are Worth It

“The rocks represent the hardship of mental illness; the hands represent the warmth of life surrounding the hardship. I can get so caught up in my mental illnesses that it’s hard to know, hard to see, or even remember in those times that there is more to the world around me... There is love around me, but it can be hard to notice. However unfortunate this may be, the world and its love is still there, and there’s hope in that.”


My Opinion Didn't Matter

“The tape over my mouth represents the way my voice has been hushed, even silenced. I have felt ignored many times throughout my life. My eyes plead: to be heard, for someone to listen, to notice my pain, to notice me. Through mental illness I have felt at times that neither my voice nor my existence mattered.”


Jar of Anxieties

“This is a bottle in my dad’s house - an ‘Anxieties’ bottle. Inside, it is full of pennies; whenever my dad feels anxious and remembers this bottle, he puts a penny into it. I see this bottle as a powerful metaphor for depression, especially how mine was for many years. I wasn’t okay in various ways, but I didn’t know how to express this. So I just ‘bottled up’ everything inside until I had convinced myself completely that nobody cared about me.”