For those who suffer from anxiety, often the most difficult part of the battle is feeling alone in the fight. How do you explain that though you may look fine on the outside, inside you feel as though you’re trapped in a cage — inside a hurricane? And how can someone who has never felt that way possibly understand?
Well, one photographer has accomplished just that with her stunning self-portrait series, My Anxious Heart.
Katie Joy Crawford created the viral series as part of her senior thesis for Louisiana State University in May 2015. Katie herself has battled anxiety for a decade and decided to do the series to “capture it and expose it in the light.”
She says she hopes her photos “can be a source of healing for others as it has been for me.”
And if our own reaction is any indication, we are sure that it has.
“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.”
“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 thousand 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.”
“Numb feeling. How oxymoronic. How fitting. Can you actually feel numb? Or is it the inability to feel? Am I so used to being numb that I’ve equated it to an actual feeling?”
“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. It’ll ease soon.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 lifes. 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.”
To read more of Katie’s story, click here.