Taking some time to slow down and relax while the snow falls
Whether struggling to put a seat belt on or not understanding a cash register at work, I face numerous situations that leave me feeling defeated and ashamed. I hate looking stupid or incompetent. When others are around and (potentially) judging me, giving myself the grace to make an error becomes even more challenging.
“I’m not an idiot.” I repeat that phrase to myself daily. Is it because I truly believe it, or is it what I want to think?
Sometimes the mistakes I make can be attributed to my ditsy side. Other times, my desire for perfection and fear of making someone upset makes me so anxious that I struggle to focus. Interestingly, my struggles can also be traced back to sensory overload. When someone else is talking in the same room, I struggle to hear anyone speaking to me. If an item isn’t exactly where it should be, I can search fruitlessly as all the other objects around me start to overwhelm my brain. Or if I try to do a task in a new order, I often stumble over my words or forget an essential component of the task.
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.