Meet Katie Joy Crawford, a 23-year-old photography student based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Photographer Katie Joy Crawford has wrestled with anxiety disorder her entire life, which is why she was especially qualified to create this gripping photo series showing us what it’s like to live with this burden.
“Anxiety bars the sufferer from the risk of discovery, the desire to explore new ideas, and the possibility of exiting a comfort zone,” she writes in the description of her project, ‘My Anxious Heart.’ “It makes sure that it will never be alone. 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.”
The project is a deeply personal one for Crawford; “Using my own stories and experiences, I am capturing the raw essence of anxiety. Through this personal journey, I have grown and found that depicting my fears has become therapeutic, as well as a gateway for others to express their oppression and begin their own healing process.”
Here are a few photos and captions from her remarkable series…
On feeling like you’re suffocating:
“They keep telling me to breathe. I can feel my chest moving up and down. Up and down. Up and down. But why does it feel like I’m suffocating? I hold my hand under my nose, making sure there is air. I still can’t breathe.”
On being stuck in your own head:
“A captive of my own mind. The instigator of my own thoughts. The more I think, the worse it gets. The less I think, the worse it gets. Breathe. Just breathe. Drift. It’ll ease soon.”
On feeling stuck in your life:
“I’m afraid to live and I’m afraid to die. What a way to exist.”
On feeling paralyzed to act:
“It’s strange — in the pit of your stomach. It’s like when you’re swimming and you want to put your feet down but the water is deeper than you thought. You can’t touch the bottom and your heart skips a beat.”
On the draining oscillation between depression and anxiety:
“Depression is when you can’t feel at all. Anxiety is when you feel too much. Having both is a constant war within your own mind. Having both means never winning.”
On feeling trapped:
“You were created for me and by me. You were created for my seclusion. You were created by venomous defense. You are made of fear and lies. Fear of unrequited promises and losing trust so seldom given. You’ve been forming my entire life. Stronger and stronger.”
On feeling so weighed down by your brain:
“A glass of water isn’t heavy. It’s almost mindless when you have to pick one up. But what if you couldn’t empty it or set it down? What if you had to support its weight for days… months… years? The weight doesn’t change, but the burden does. At a certain point, you can’t remember how light it used to seem. Sometimes it takes everything in you to pretend it isn’t there. And sometimes, you just have to let it fall.”
On having anxiety around sleeping:
“I was scared of sleeping. I felt the most raw panic in complete darkness. Actually, complete darkness wasn’t scary. It was that little bit of light that would cast a shadow — a terrifying shadow.”
To view the entire series, go here.