Photo Series: Visualization of the Manifestations of Mental Health Disorders

Hey y’all,

When I began this Mental Health Awareness Month series, I wanted to include as many different diagnoses as possible. Along those same lines, I wanted to convey the messages through different mediums. This series, shot by Kesley Moorefield (@justkesley), with hair and makeup provided by Jonathon Sierra-Weaver (@jonathon_sierraweaver) and Mirna Andrade (@mirnamaybe) of J Alexander Beauty Team, is a visual representation of some of the ways mental health disorders can manifest. With out them and the other models (credited below their respective photos), this series would not have been possible. I won’t be writing much to go along with these photos other than a brief snippet of what they mean to me, as I think there is more power in them than anything else I could write.

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Why I Started The Pete Foundation

Aside from being a lifelong friend and one of the strongest people I know, Michelle Jones is one of the founders of The Pete Foundation. The Pete Foundation aims to spread mental health awareness and “stomp the stigma” surrounding mental health. 

 

Why I started The Pete Foundation
Michelle (third from right), and the rest of the Jones family at the inaugural PeteFest.

 

After losing my brother and best friend, Pete, to suicide about a year and a half ago, the grief, shock, confusion, and enormous mix of all other emotions nearly blocked out any other logical thoughts, behaviors, or reasoning. One of the few things that peeked through that cloud of darkness was this penetrating realization that there exists a whole other world where mental health is a thing and suicide in your family isn’t so unthinkable. It was always one of those things that everyone thinks would never happen in their family. It took my brother’s suicide for me to realize how bad his depression really was, or that suicide can happen in even the most loving families, or that no matter how close you are to someone, our society’s view of mental health could keep you from saving them. In this other world, there are people desperately trying to raise awareness about mental health, because they know the things it can do.

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Being a Mom With Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Leah McNally of Life as Leah, (lifeasleah.net)  is a millennial mom turned blogger and social influencer. She created her instagram account @life.as.leah_ and the page @honestmommin to connect deeper with other mom’s. Leah and her family moved to New Jersey from Florida, when her daughter was 6 months old. This move was the catalyst into connecting more with moms on social media, because she didn’t know anyone in the area. This is her journey with Postpartum depression and anxiety.

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I want to start this off by saying if you’ve been struggling with

postpartum issues, you’re not alone.

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Appreciating Every Moment of Life with a side of Mental Health Awareness

Kayla Cassaro is a cousin of Pete and one of of many mental health advocates within The Pete Foundation non-profit. She also works for an airline full time and is in love with aviation in general. When she was in first grade and asked what she wanted to be when she grew up – all of her peers picked professions like doctors, lawyers, firemen, etc. She simply stated “Martin Luther King Jr.” or an angel…she took everything she’s ever been told about both and decided she just wanted to be able to be helpful. It’s taken over over fifteen years of working experience, early eleven of those within aviation. She now sees at thirty one years old, that you can do that no matter who you are or what type of job you’re in. So is she living her dream? Yes. Everyday. Sometimes in the clouds!

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Self-Care is Deeper than a Bubble Bath

Hey y’all,

Let’s talk about some self-care. TBH, things haven’t been going great for me for a couple weeks. But, life happens and at this point I know what I need as a person to keep myself grounded and moving forward. I thought finishing the semester would kind of turn my anxiety off (lol) but boy was I wrong. The end of the school year is kind of weird. You go from taking regular classes all semester with a set schedule, to two weeks of high stress and a random schedule for finals, then it all just ends. There’s no fade out set to music, it all just abruptly stops. For some reason, this semester ending hit me harder than in the past. I’ve felt super anxious about missing things because I feel like there has to be somewhere I need to be. I also notice my anxiety a lot more when I don’t have a busy schedule to distract me.

I actually had my first panic attack in a long time last week. I kind of forgot how terrible they are because it had been so long. After I settled down I realized that it was actually pretty amazing that I went that long without a panic attack and it was kind of an “ah-ha” moment about the fact that I must have been taking pretty damn good care of myself.

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that bath bombs are my kryptonite. Taking a hot bath with a dope bath bomb is one of my favorite forms of self-care. I used to take myself to the breaking point and then kind of scream in my head “I NEED TO TAKE A HOT BATH TO FIX EVERYTHING”. Then I would get in the bath all tense and not even be able to enjoy it because I was so freaking anxious, stressed, and out of control that I would just sit there and internally continue to scream but tell myself I was practicing self-care.

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Eating Disorders & Self-Care

Shine Like a Diemond is a Charlotte- based blog developed to promote and inspire self-love, self-care, and fashion. Empowering women to love themselves in Style by Nicki Segur.

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“Be active” “Eat healthy”  – Growing up this was the constant messages I learned. This was not just taught by family but throughout health classes and in society. The thing I cannot remember learning about was mental health. WOW. I do not think I was introduced to the importance of mental health until entering college. I never knew how much your thoughts can take over your behaviors. I never knew you had control over your thoughts. I never knew how powerful, and incredible our minds are.

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Understanding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Clare Walton is the woman behind the blog Melanin Adventures. Built out of a turning point in her life, the goal of Melanin Adventures is to be a place of positivity and empowerment for women, especially women of colour. After leaving an abusive relationship, Clare began her blog as a place to focus her energy and rediscover herself and her passions. Then a wonderful thing happened, women read her blog and found comfort and common ground there. Clare’s hope for her blog, and Instagram page, is that other women read her pages and see their power and strength and feel empowered to live their best lives by embracing all the opportunities life throws their way.

Healing is not a linear journey. It is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the last two years, it is also a phrase I remind myself of often. Sometimes I find myself leaning on this phrase weekly Continue reading “Understanding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder”

Mental Health: Body Positivity and Eating Disorder Recovery via Food Photography

JC Phelps is a Kentucky-based food writer, blogger, instagrammer, and social media influencer. Originally raised on the family farm in Russell County, which was homesteaded in 1798, he now calls Louisville home. He holds a BS in Economics and Finance from Centre College, a MBA from the Gordon Ford College of Business at Western Kentucky University, and is a 2021 candidate for a JD at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Find his work online at @jcpeats and at www.jcpeats.com.

Mental health is often framed as solely consisting of the mind; however, I incessantly contend that it’s so much more than that. To me, it’s mind, body, and soul – three separate, yet highly correlated, facets of one’s being.

From anxiety, depression via the death of my father, suffering from three eating disorders at different points in my life (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating), enduring eating disorder recovery, obsessively losing weight – I’ve had my fair share of struggles in maintaining my mental health. My journey has been centered around my body, or, rather, body positivity. This is that story.

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My Friend Anxiety

Viki Roman is a Puerto Rican, Atlanta-born, Louisville-based artist who creates with multiple medias. Equally as important as the aforementioned, she’s an amazing friend. I’m so happy that she is a part of this series and gracing my blog with a sampling of her digital art. 
These three images are part of a series called “My Friend Anxiety”.   I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember and over time, not understanding my mind and path in life often caused periods of depression.  I still suffer from both, but having an outlet like this allows me to convey how it feels to those who don’t understand. And it’s not their fault: they can’t understand.  But when words aren’t enough, a visual cue can help.  These images give people a glimpse into what it may feel like for some, specifically for me. Sometimes it feels like a friend.  Other times it feels like a stranger exists in your reflection. And every now and then it feels as though it has consumed you, and you are what you suffer from.

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Mental Health Awareness Series: Intro

Hey Y’all!

I’ve been busy orchestrating and planning this blog series for the past few weeks and I’m so excited to see it come to fruition. I just wanted to hop on here and give an overview of what’s to come and the idea behind the series.

When I learned that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I started thinking of a topic for one blog post. I quickly realized that that wouldn’t cut it. Mental health is consistently put on the back burner and deemed less legitimate than diagnoses related to physical health. I would be contributing to the issue if I thought that mental health awareness could be summed up in one post.

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, even before I could give it a name. I was diagnosed with OCD when I was in 8th grade and began going to therapy. This was when I realized that I, and a lot of people around me, knew next to nothing about mental health. I was constantly being told by other kids,  and even some adults, that there’s no way I was truly OCD because of how messy I kept my locker, binder, desk, etc. It took me a long time to realize that how mental health is portrayed in pop culture isn’t how it laments in everyone it effects.

Remembering these feelings of thinking that each mental health diagnoses had to fit neatly into a box also made me think that one single blog post would be a disservice. Because of this, I reached out to other bloggers, influencers, artists, and friends to share their own personal stories, struggles, triumphs and advice related to mental health. What I have gone through with anxiety, OCD, mood instability, and countless prescriptions is such a small sampling of what mental health can mean. I am so happy with the roster of amazing people who will be sharing over the next month. Hitting mental health from as many angles as possible will hopefully make it clear that every single case will be different, and that’s ok. No matter what you’re going through, you’re never alone and your feelings are valid.

I can’t wait for this series to progress and for everyone to gain something from this. Whether you’ve struggled with mental health your entire life, known someone who has struggled, feel completely removed, or this is all new to you, I think we can all benefit from trying to better understand how other the humans around us see the world. Learning more about others never hurt anyone.

The next post in the series will be by artist Victoria Roman with a focus on her artistic series “My Friend Anxiety”. Stay tuned!

Kya Cheese