Student Voices: Finding Inner Normalcy through Photography
By Stephanie, Current student, Penn State University
Life has always been a challenge. The way I saw myself, how I felt about life; I never thought was normal. It wasn’t until I started photography as a student that I slowly discovered a way that I could express my experience without having to fully admit them to the outside world. My first attempt at admitting I was struggling came in the form of black and white photographs of lilies. My classmates thought they were beautiful portraits. It was then that I felt the confidence of knowing my work was received positively, and I decided to detail the hidden meaning behind the photographs. It was nerve wracking at first, but also cathartic. I realized I was able to discuss a painful subject by using photography as my medium. Art is so expressive. It teaches you to be honest, creative, deep and to accept a form of self expression.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder. Mental illness carries such a stigma and unfortunately in my experience, is still mainly viewed through a clinical lens. It may never be easy, but one thing that has continued to help me is art. The hope that something I’ve created can not only depict an emotional moment in life but perhaps alleviate some internal struggle for another person is my constant goal. This led me to starting a nonprofit organization: Finding Inner Normalcy or F.I.N., which provides a creative outlet for those struggling with mental illness. We are creating a dialogue for mental health by having artists depict different mental disorders through multiple art forms and media. By showcasing these struggles through blogs, art, and videos, it is the hope that people will see their issues through a different scope, allowing acceptance and destigmatizing mental illness going forward. Showing people how to communicate through art is what keeps me going. I imagine F.I.N. will keep others going as well.
Learn more about F.I.N. here: findinginnernormalcy.org
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