Dedicated to the ones I love, and everyone who has ever needed someone to tell them that its okay, to not be okay.
For any of my family, friends, or followers that aren’t aware- I am apart of a wonderful community of people who live with, suffer from, or love someone who has suffered from mental illness. A few years ago a wonderful woman contacted me about joining her community of artists who were actively fighting the stigma, it wasn’t something I was sure I wanted, but I did not decline her offer. Broken Light Collective is an unbelievable resource for people like me. It is essentially an online gallery for people who are affected by mental illness. The goal? To encourage people to use art as therapy and erasing the stigma.
My camera has always been my diary, and for some reason it never occurred to me that other people may do the same, but the online gallery boasts an incredible following.
Now, to the point of this post. Over the last day I have been talking with a friend of mine about the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. She is a fellow artist, a painter, (Allie Marie Artistry) who also has spent a lifetime battling her own demons. She has actually watched the series, and we were discussing and analyzing its message as well as its pros and cons when it comes to how it will effect the mental health community as a whole. Now, I have not watched it, and after talking to her about how it affected her, and how it may be triggering or simply too much, for now, I don’t plan to watch it. No shade to Netflix or the shows directors, producers, actors, author of the book etc., its just a personal choice. With that said, the show, in my opinion, has good intentions and some good messages. I wont make claims to know or understand them all without seeing it- but from what I have heard or read, they did their best to shed light on a delicate subject, and that alone is alright with me. After all, I do that every time I take a photo and share it with my friends at Broken Light. This show has started a conversation, and that’s what we need, to talk about it. So, as a person who has insight, I want to add to that conversation and (hopefully) encourage people to think of art as a therapy tool, just as I and many others do. So without further adieu….
13 Reasons I Need Art and Communities Like Broken Light Collective
First and foremost, these are MY opinions. I am simply a girl who has found what works for her, and this is it.
- It encourages me to continuously seek better health.
Its not uncommon for people to stop their treatment, or therapy once they have found some peace. It is also not uncommon for people suffering from mental illness to not seek professional help at all. Trust me, I’m one of them. For people who suffer, this is not okay. But when we make our health a part of our lives, when we let ourselves be okay with being who we are, we make it a priority to continuously work to be better- to continuously seek help. Sometimes I don’t want to talk, sometimes I just need to express, and if you are like me, then art is how we do this. Every time I pick up my camera, I am working on myself.
2. It introduces me to more people who understand me and encourage me to keep going
I cannot tell you how many times I have made a new friend, or received an encouraging email or comment after sharing an image. Whether it be from something they saw on my personal blog or Instagram, or on Broken Light, there is no shortage of support.
3. It fulfills a need to feel like I am contributing to something bigger than myslef.
“Demons find work for idle hands.” Getting to be apart of something that helps people like myself has been a LARGE part of maintaining my health. Thanks to Broken Light Collective, I have had images in multiple exhibits, talks, and events all in the name of erasing the stigma and encouraging others to find their creative tool. I cannot even begin to describe how incredible it has felt to know that I have contributed to something that I consider to be LIFE SAVING… it has definitely saved my own, and I know that it could save others.
4. It allows me to be heard.
I am not good with words, honestly, a lot of us aren’t. If you want to know how I feel, give me my camera… because I honestly don’t have the words, all I have is the feelings. I have something that needs to be put out there, its something I need you to know about me, and even if you don’t understand it completely.. I need you to hear/see it.
5. I am safe.
I personally share my art across a lot of platforms, but I wasn’t always like that. Before I found Broken Light Collective, I used Flickr. I would post my images there, and usually write a little something there trying to explain what or how I felt. However, it was incredibly private. For the most part, I did not share them anywhere else, and I did not tell many people in my personal life about them. I had a small following, and I knew not many people were seeing them and that was the only way I felt safe to put it out there. Enter Broken Light Collective- after the very first time I shared with that community I immediately felt safe to continue doing so. Since then I have shared multiple times and have never been met with anything but encouragement.
6. I am overcoming my fears.
In relation to #5… like I said, I share my art across multiple platforms, but it wasn’t like that until after I found Broken Light. My biggest fear was letting people into my little world. For the most part I felt ashamed. I was embarrassed that I felt the way that I felt, and I was afraid of the negativity I may have been met with. Now, I am not saying that I am not sometimes met with negativity, its always out there. But thanks to this community, I am stronger, and I am okay with not being okay. I am at a point now where I understand that I am only hurting myself and people like myself by continuing to live in silent fear of the world. I get to thank Danielle Hark, Broken Light, and the whole community for making me stronger and less afraid.
7. I am making sense of my experiences, in my own way.
I cant speak for others, but I personally… DO NOT UNDERSTAND MYSELF IN THE SLIGHTEST. There are times I cannot make sense of what I’m feeling, so I just set up the camera, and whatever comes out, comes out. Most of the time afterwards I have more insight into myself and an incredible sense of relief. That is something particularly helpful. A lot of times I will not be able to understand why I feel the way I feel, and with the lack of understanding, comes the lack or expression and communication, and that ALWAYS turns into anxiety. Having an outlet in those times keeps me from spiraling almost 100% of the time.
8. We are replacing our negative habits with productive ones.
*possible trigger ahead*
Some of us have tried to find a false sense of comfort in habits that have only hurt us more. Perhaps we have found ourselves in the pit of an eating disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, or self harm. Now we can find true comfort in something that is apart of the solution. We don’t have to hurt our selves anymore, we have encouragement to seek help and we have something to channel our energy into that helps instead of hurts.
9. I have a new way to cope with crisis.
When something happens in my life that I cannot process, something out of my control that I cannot handle, I go to my therapist, my camera. Although it may not be the only thing needed to cope, it is always one of my stops.
10. I am inevitably improving my relationships with the ones I love.
Once upon a time, I was resentful of my loved ones for not understanding. I put it all on them and never once thought that making an attempt to better understand myself would help. I worked on my art of expression, and when I started effectively expressing myself I found it easier to help my loved ones understand me too. The fact of the matter is, sometimes they aren’t going to understand, but that doesn’t mean they don’t WANT to. With this community encouraging self expression MY WAY, my relationships with the ones I love have grown to be so much more nurturing and loving on both sides.
11. We are helping others understand our minds.
Sometimes people who don’t know what mental illness feels like, don’t understand how important it is to take an active stance, and making a true effort to be apart of the solution. People all over the world are suffering and not speaking up because they are scared of the reaction. By contributing our expression to the world, we are giving people a visual representation of what other people around them may be feeling and allowing them to better empathize with people who are affected by mental illness.
12. We are giving people like us hope.
People need to know we are talking about it. They need to know we understand them, they need to know we are here for them and we have been where they are. There is hope, there is help, and there is no shortage of love.
And Lastly …
13. I need my children to grow up in a world that understands, supports, and nurtures them.
This one is very personal to me, and it is the reason I woke up this morning, kept my children home from school, and put them in front of my camera as well as behind it, and told them, and SHOWED them how much I loved them. I needed them to know that it is okay to express themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable and that sometimes emotions are more than spoken words. That is also why I need communities like Broken Light Collective. They are helping people understand that sometimes being supportive is not always just as simple as asking someone to answer the question “what’s wrong?”. Sometimes you have to watch what they do, see how they move, look at what they create and empathize with what they are portraying to you. So here it is… when asked “What do you feel like taking a photo of” this is what they came up with…
(Taken by Simon, 5 years old, 2017)Top: a photo of his brother, Oliver and sister, Norah. Bottom: His favorite stuffed animals. (from left to right) Hulk bear, Yellow bear, Mr. Cuddles, & Puppy, who he has had and slept with since birth.
(Taken by Oliver, 5 years old, 2017)Top: a photo of his brother, Simon and sister, Norah. Bottom: a photo of his favorite stuffed animals (from left to right) Wolfy, Cappy, Ro-bo, and pikachu.
Stay safe friends, & NEVER stop creating!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free, confidential assistance, 24/7
Sexual Abuse Hotline: Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Phone Number: 800-826-3632