When I was first diagnosed with depression my mother-in-law termed my illness as a “bad case of the nerves”. I always shook my head at that one, and questioned, what does depression have to do with bad nerves; an incredibly old belief or judgment perhaps?
The term “nervous breakdown” is used by the public to characterize a wide range of mental illnesses. Nervous breakdown is not a medical term and doesn’t indicate a specific mental illness. Generally, the term describes a person who is severely and persistently emotionally distraught and unable to function at his or her normal level.
One of the most challenging aspects of living with mental illness is the isolation — of feeling unwilling or unworthy of engaging with life, and with people. Photographer and editor Danielle Hark started Broken Light Collective to counteract that loneliness and create a space where people could connect and heal over a shared art: photography. Here, we share the stories of eight Broken Light contributors, and talk to Danielle about mental illness, therapeutic photography, and the importance of sharing our art and stories.
All images and stories below are courtesy of
Broken Light Collective
“Lights Out,” [the image at the top of this piece], was inspired by the work of Broken Light Collective… It reminds me that as much as I try to be a light for other people, it’s not always possible when there are things I need to take care of within myself first.
What is depression? How does it feel? Why does it make people so miserable?
There are many different answers given to those questions. Everyone with depression experiences it a bit different. Some might say that it is like a whirlpool pulling them under while others attest to it being locked away in a pitch-dark cell. For some, the loneliness is the hardest part while others cringe from the self-loathing.
This is a great description of depression. I never thought of it quite that way, but it fits so perfectly! The message of hope and holding onto the dream of the next day being better is so important too.
Today would be the day I registered for my classes if I had gone to London. The last week I’ve approached each day in relation to what I would be doing if I had made the decision to go. And it’s made worse by the fact that I’m basically doing nothing to move my life forward. After all, I decided not to go because I wasn’t emotionally ready and wanted to grow stronger. I’ve spent the last month taking two classes at a community college and going to the gym when I can get up the nerve.
When I tell others about what my day “could have been like,” they tell me not to worry, I’ll be there in a year. I mean, that was the plan in deferring. But I think I know I’m not. I wasn’t even planning on going, the whole plan was just an experiment to…
Standing in a telephone booth in the U.K. pavilion
When people think of eating disorders, anorexia often comes to mind. Yet, this is the least common eating disorder. The death rate of those with it and horrifying effects of starving oneself, however, make it so well remembered, belittled, and strangely idolized.
Here are some quotes on this disorder I still sometimes fall into or long to have again. I chose words that are not too triggering but still honest. Therefore, these are not pretty quotes or happy words. Still, there is hope for healing even from this illness. Behind these agony-ridden thoughts is light for a better future that contains a better relationship with food.
Being alone can teach you about yourself and others.
“Two is a pair. Three is a crowd.”
That saying might not be true, but I have certainly experienced it at times. Children pair up, having a best friend and sometimes even a second best friend. Girls giggling with others while passing me by, being picked last for a team, roommates making plans while I watched – being alone has been an important part of my life.
When thinking of eating disorders, most people know about anorexia and bulimia at least by name. However, even more common are disorders that fall under EDNOS or eating disorder not otherwise specified. Two of these are BED or Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating. These are just as painful and certainly dangerous to your emotional, physical, and mental health.
Another hard element of these eating disorders is the judgement that goes with them. All eating disorder are judged, but if you also struggle with being overweight, that makes it even worse. Although most people would not have labeled me as having one of these disorders, I certainly feel like I had them through my teenage years. Some of the comments that I heard have altered my body image and confidence for over a decade now.
It is great to have some participants in the #Blog4MH challenge already posting. I will be updating this post throughout the week so you can easily visit the posts that are being shared. Please check back often! (If you have posted using the hashtag and I have missed it, please let me know and I will add to this list!)
Depression is one of the most helpless and frustrating experiences a person can have. It’s sometimes feeling sad, sometimes feeling empty, and sometimes feeling absolutely nothing at all. There are times when depression can leave someone feeling paralyzed in their own mind and body, unable to do the things they used to love to do or the things they know they should be doing. Depression is not just a bad day or a bad mood and it’s not something someone can just “get over.” Remember no one chooses to be depressed.
2. Saying things like “it’ll get better,” “you just need to get out of the house,” or “you’ll be fine” is meaningless.
It’s easy to tell someone these things because you think you’re giving them a solution or a simple way to make them feel better and to ease their pain, but these…