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SUFFOCATION BLUES depicts my depression and hypomania, the two pushes and pulls of my life that constantly fight for my attention. My moods often switch from one extreme to the other making me feel overwhelmed, suffocated and above all beaten down. In a particularly low stage of 2020 during the first half of lockdown I began to feel myself slowly slipping into a depressive episode and found that I was desperately scrambling for something - anything - to pull me out of it. To say that my depression feels like drowning is an understatement. It's like everything and nothing at once, too much and too little, overwhelmed to the point of being completely and utterly numb. I often think of it as being like a blown fuse, filled with electricity, energy and excitement to the point of exhaustion and complete dissociation.
In the past, photography has been a useful tool for grounding and a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings, especially because I have often found it hard to confide in others or express myself verbally. In order to heal in a healthy way I think it's productive to face our feelings head on and to find a way to reach resolution and acceptance in order to make changes that will benefit us in the long run, which is why even though I was in a very bad place I still wanted to confront my feelings and what I was dealing with. During this episode, I decided to use my craft to physically display my inner turmoil and what it felt like to be trapped indoors with only my mental illness for company. It was bittersweet because I remember it being quite freeing to create like this, but it was also very difficult because my illness often feels like a life sentence. I often feel alone and rejected, which makes it hard for me to connect with others... but with this I was able to finally start to pull myself out of my episode and start to figure out what exactly I wanted from my photography career and more importantly what I wanted from the rest of my life. I'm trying to break out of the habit that this is a life sentence, it's not. My illness is part of who I am but it doesn't define me. If anything it has made me resilient and emotionally intelligent, which are things that I think are very important for creating conceptual pieces like these that can sometimes take you to a dark place.
My use of clingfilm was at first only used to represent the suffocating nature of my mental illness, however, upon reflection I realised that I had also used it because clingfilm is a household item that I used everyday for things such as preserving food or wrapping my hair when conditioning. The clingfilm itself was significant to me because like my ever-present illness it was something that was always there. Therefore, it was able to not only represent how my mental health makes me feel but it also captured what it might look like as well as how suffocating constantly being surrounded by dark thoughts and feelings can be.
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