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Anxiety Disorder Depicted Through Self-Portraits

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anxiety

LSU photography student Katie Joy Crawford has personally struggled with general anxiety disorder for over a decade. For her senior thesis exhibition, she chose to make her inner experience the subject of a series of self-portraits. The project is titled “My Anxious Heart.”

The project “explores and identifies how emotionally and physically depleting general anxiety disorder can be from a personal perspective,” Crawford writes. “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.”

Crawford says she hopes that her photos will help people to “understand this weight that so many bear in our society.” The images have also become a type of helpful therapy for Crawford herself.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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 thousands circuits are all crossing at once.
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 thousands circuits are all crossing at once.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s in your stomach. It’s like when you’re swimming and you go to put your feet on the bottom... but it's not there. You can’t touch and your heart skips a beat.
It’s in your stomach. It’s like when you’re swimming and you go to put your feet on the bottom… but it’s not there. You can’t touch 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.
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.
I’m afraid to live and I’m afraid to die. What a way to exist.
I’m afraid to live and I’m afraid to die. What a way to exist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

You can find more of Crawford’s work on her website and Facebook.


Image credits: Photographs by Katie Joy Crawford and used with permission

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