Justice

People Are Loving These Inspiring Instagram Photos About Mental Illness

January 21st 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

Mental illness is still greatly stigmatized in society, despite the fact that millions of Americans suffer from mental health issues. Graphic designer Jessica Walsh, who has suffered from depression and eating disorders, among other mental health issues, is hoping to fight the stigma with her new project, Lets Talk About Mental Health, which has an Instagram following of 1,602 as of writing time and continues to grow in popularity.

Lets Talk About Mental Health, solicits stories and experiences from fans and includes gorgeous, bright photos that depict what it feels like to live with mental illness.

One Instagram photo, for example, reads, "I get anxiety about having anxiety," a concise but telling statement about the vicious cycle of this particular mental illness. Some of the Instagram images solely show words, while others display graphics of how it looks to suffer from mental illness. Let's Talk About Mental Illness also has a website where people can share and submit their full experiences with mental illness.

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Walsh created the mental illness project while working on her other side venture, 12 Kinds of Kindness, which is a 12-step experiment "designed to open our hearts, eyes, and minds," according to Walsh's website. Walsh told Refinery29 that 12 Kinds of Kindness inspired her mental health project because one of the steps of kindness is about forgiving oneself for past mistakes.

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"When we formulated [step four], I immediately knew what I had to write about: my past struggles with anorexia, depression, and self-harm," Walsh wrote in an email to the publication. "I went through these issues for many years, but since I’ve recovered, I’ve kept them a secret from almost everyone."

In a chilling video about step four of 12 Kinds of Kindness, Walsh explained that she was sexually abused at a young age and became anorexic as a result of the trauma and constant pressure to succeed in school and extracurricular activities.

"When your body goes into starvation mode, you feel a very real high," she said. "That quickly became an addiction, and I wanted to feel more of that."

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Walsh added that she went to the doctor one day when her anorexia got out of control. She said through tears that her father begged her to just eat already but that mental illness isn't something people can snap out of.

"I just remember one vivid memory of my dad shaking me and saying, 'I'm not going to tell my friends that my daughter died of starvation,'" Walsh said through tears. "'We've given you guys everything. You're just going to eat.' And it just seemed so simple to some people, and I get that, but it just felt impossible at the time."

Walsh told Refinery 29 that she aims to show that "normal people who lead otherwise productive lives" suffer from mental illness.

"The more [that] people open up and share their stories, the more we can change people's perspectives on these topics, end the ignorance around these disorders, and help end the stigmas attached to them," she said.

Many have praised Walsh's Instagram for fighting the stigma surrounding mental health:

Lets Talk About Mental Health Instagram

Lets Talk About Mental Illness website

Lets Talk About Mental Illness website

Go to Lets Talk About Mental Health's website to read more stories of mental illness struggles and to share your own as well.