I’m a photographer local to Atlanta Georgia. I founded The Faces of Depression so that I could use my photography to fight the stigmas associated with depression and anxiety.
When I refer to a “Face”, I mean the face that people put on to show the world; a disingenuous disguise meant to hide and suffer alone.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety pretty much all my life. I can remember so many times over the years, hearing other people, and myself, talk derogatorily about needing to go see a shrink. Each time I heard that, I would feel a little smaller inside, and the thought that I was defective in some way would solidify.
I spent twenty years building a career where I saw much success. I reached titles like VP of Operations and COO. All the while, hiding in the dark and suffering in silence. There were times that I spent weeks in bed, unable to function. I clearly needed treatment, but was afraid to go find it. I didn’t want people to know. What would they think or say?
I finally went to my physician and started the journey to treatment. It took me until I was 35 years old to get to a point that I was actually getting the treatment I needed. Finally, I am now to the point where I don’t care what others think. I am brutally open with the fact that I have depression and anxiety problems. All it took for me to get there was years of hiding, stuffing it down, and telling myself to buckle down and get over it, and then to finally fall. I could no longer hold the world up with outstretched arms. After anxiety gave me lock-jaw from clenching my teeth so hard during the night, I saw that anxiety was something that I could not deal with alone. I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was no match for what my mind was doing to me.
After a particularly bad weekend, I decided to do some self-portraits. I wanted to see what the world saw. I was used to putting my “face” on for everyone, so I was sure there would be no difference. What I saw was a photograph of someone in dire need. The world had to have seen all these years. Maybe they didn’t admit it to themselves because they were scared of mental illness, but they saw it.
The Faces of Depression shows the world the faces of those that suffer, along with some very telling quotes and stories from the participants. This will be the only way to break the stigma down so that others may find the courage to get help before it’s too late.
I only need two things from you.
First– I need to photograph people and let them and tell their story. Show the world that you’re not afraid, and finally you can start your journey to getting healthy, or even more importantly, you may inspire another to start. You can be part of the solution.
Second– I need donations so that I may go find more people to pass the message to, and force the stigma out of society. If I help a single person, I will have succeeded. But think bigger! We can affect a huge number of people if we work together.
It doesn’t matter if we change the whole world or just a small piece
What matters is that people understand that 1 in 4 adults currently suffer; most of them are alone and in disguise behind their “Face”. Look around you right now.
If you see three other people, then one of you is in pain right now.
We have a very large target to aim at. 61 Million Americans are suffering this very second as you read this. Most are afraid to get help.
Thanks for your time, Lee Vann