These Photos Show What Life With Depression Is Really Like

March 31st 2016

Laura Donovan

Though an estimated 350 million people suffer from depression, mental illness remains very difficult to talk about and approach in our culture. One photographer is fighting the stigma, however, with a series of self-portraits about life with depression.

Aleksandra Stone Twitter

Aleksandra Stone, an artist who splits her time between New York and Louisville, Kentucky, was recently featured on Refinery29 for her depression self-portraits. Stone recently told the publication that she started taking these solo shots after being diagnosed with depression, and she also told ATTN: via email that the response to her images "has been overwhelmingly positive" from fellow mental illness sufferers.

"I believe this is because people are ready and open to discuss mental health, albeit being reticent to begin the dialog themselves," she told ATTN:. "I find that it is much easier to jump into a conversation that someone else has already begun, and so I hope that my pieces serve as an opener."

Her self-portraits also illustrate what many people with mental illness know: it can be an incredibly isolating and lonely experience that you can't always articulate in words.

Aleksandra Stone self-portrait

She told ATTN: that her primary goal is to "establish a personal connection with my viewers by entrusting them with [her] narrative, and welcoming them to participate in an open discourse about the prevalence of mental health issues in our society."

A particularly powerful image in her gallery shows Stone covered in eggs, which have historically been a symbol of life. Depression, of course, can leave a person feeling defeated by life.

Aleksandra Stone self-portrait

"The eggs were real, and it took several hours to prepare them for the shoot," Stone told ATTN:. "I baked all but the egg on my face, that one was fried, making for some unpleasant sensations as butter dripped across my face."

Stone wrote that while there have been "gradual improvements" toward understanding depression as a society, there is still a lot of work to do to completely de-stigmatize the illness.

Aleksandra Stone self-portrait

"Albeit idealistic sounding, it is now more than ever necessary to push for a future in which individuals are no onger ostracized on the basis of their genetic identity," she said.

Aleksandra Stone self-portrait

Aleksandra Stone self-portrait

Stone isn't the only artist illustrating mental illness struggles through photos.

As ATTN: previously reported, a photographer named Katie Joy Crawford recently gained attention for her photo series titled "My Anxious Heart," which highlights her long battle with anxiety.

"Anxiety bars the sufferer from the risk of discovery, the desire to explore new ideas, and the possibility of exiting a comfort zone. It makes sure that it will never be alone," she wrote on her website. "It finds you when you’re in the midst of joy, or alone in your own mind. It is quiet and steady, reminding you of your past failures, and fabricating your future outcomes."

Go to Stone's website to check out more of her photography.

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