For my self-portrait series, “Why Did No One Tell Me,” I’m reflecting on my mental health in a humorous and approachable way to encourage a more open discussion on a mental health crisis that’s affecting so many in today’s chaotic climate.
This series was influenced by the last three years of my life which have included an emotionally exhausting series of events - my teenage son suffering with mental health which led to hospitalization and therapeutic boarding programs away from home when he was 17; my father - who lived in our backyard apartment so we could care for him following a stroke - being placed in a nursing home during Covid where he died; and my mother dying in my home under my care in January 2023 due to cancer. Two days after losing my mother, I was ready to “jump back into” doing what all mothers do, which is care for others. Then I stopped. I took a deep breath and I thought, what about me? Am I ok? And this series was born.
The series addresses how mental health issues have affected my life from living with OCD as a child to working through grief after losing my mom. Throughout the series, I started to see a recurring theme. The onslaught of information from the Internet and media had negatively influenced my mental health. We’re bombarded daily by headlines, articles and social media posts trying to tell us what to think, convince us what we’re doing wrong and scare us into submission. It’s too much.
I decided to approach the subject with self-deprecating humor to put others at ease. To express the bombardment of information we face daily, each image features a QR code hidden in the frame. The viewer is asked to scan the QR code which will open a web post about the subject.
I hope by exposing my mental health journey in this on-going series, others will be more open about sharing their struggles and will seek help if needed. Most importantly, I want the viewer to understand this - it’s okay to be “not okay.”