She had an uncanny sense that she should document her recent bout of depression. I'm glad she did. Photos by Alicia Shao.
Alicia decided to do more than just be at the mercy of depression when it strikes.
She documented it. From the photographer herself:
"This is a series of self-documentation with regards to depression. It started with the first photo. But it somehow articulated how I felt, but couldn't express in words. I then spent the next 2 hours setting up cameras, trying to capture those moments. So far this has been going well, and it's helping others understand what I am going through. Also, it has been a strangely liberating experience, because I feel like I'm no longer carrying this weight alone and people finally understand me. I hope this somehow helps you too." — Alicia Shao
Her images paired with facts about depression from DoSomething.org make a powerful combination.
"Roughly 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression every year."
"1 in 4 young adults will suffer an episode of depression before age 24."
"Many creative individuals experienced depression, including Ludwig van Beethoven, John Lennon, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Georgia O'Keefe, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath."
"Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression."
"Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty may make people who are already susceptible to depression all the more vulnerable to the illness."
"Depression affects all people regardless of age, geographic location, demographic, or social position."
"Over 8% of adolescents in the United States suffer from depression at a given time."
"There are interrelationships between depression and physical health. For example, cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa."
"People who are depressed are more prone to illnesses like colds than non-depressed people."
Depression isn't in your head. It's a real thing, and there's real help.
Alicia's images are hitting close to home for many, which isn't surprising given the prevalence of depression in our society. If you need some help managing depression, (800) 826-3632 is a hotline that can help in the U.S. (there is a link further below for more resources in the U.K., too).
As common as this affliction is, everyone could stand to see this. If not for themselves, then for someone they love.