Two years ago, at the age of 19, photographer Edward Honaker was diagnosed with depression. The news came after a frightening and disorienting experience of losing who he used to be. “All I knew is that I became bad at the things I used to be good at, and I didn’t know why,” he explained in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Everyone deals with depression, clinical or otherwise, in a different way, and no two experiences are the same. So when faced with his diagnosis, Honaker did what he loved most: he picked up his camera.
He developed a series of surreal self portraits that attempt to capture his feelings while going through depression.
The images are unsettling in their dreamlike atmosphere. We can relate to his feeling of loss, unease, and worry, because we’ve probably all felt this way at some point.
In many of the images, Honaker’s face is obscured or distorted, reflecting the loss of self he felt while depressed.
“Your mind is who you are, and when it doesn’t work properly, it’s scary,” he says.
The images are uncomfortable, but there’s also a solace in knowing that someone else may be having the same feelings.
Honaker hopes that these images, even though they deal with a dark subject, will help people be more able and willing to talk about mental illness and to be more empathetic and accepting towards those struggling with it.
Honaker even says that through creating this series, he’s become more empathetic himself.
“I’ve still got quite a ways to go, but the whole experience made me a lot more patient and empathetic towards others,” he says.
He also hopes that for those dealing with their own illness, the photos can be a way of letting them know they’re not alone.
“It’s kind of hard to feel any kind of emotion when you’re depressed, and I think good art can definitely move people,” Honaker says.
(via Bored Panda)
Honaker’s focus on depression is also important for men, in particular, as they’re statistically less likely to speak up about or seek help for mental illness issues or suicidal thoughts. Remember, if you or someone you love is struggling, please seek help!
You can see more of Honaker’s work, including some cheerier subjects, on his website, Tumblr, and Instagram.