From the bottom of my heart, Thank You

I created a project for myself to heal from a crippling disorder that had me living my life in fear. I never expected it to resonate with so many others.

I want to thank everyone that sent such wonderful messages, comments, emails and facebook shares. I think what became clear is how each person dealing with anxiety usually feels so alone and hopeless. I just want you to know how untrue that is. In no way are you alone.

I’m so overwhelmed, excited, blessed, thankful, slightly anxious, and amazed at the response My Anxious Heart has received. I set out to explore my pain and battle, and it has turned into a resource for others. I wouldn’t wish this illness on anyone, but I’m so thankful people are able to say:

“My dad said he finally was able to visualize what I’ve been saying all these years”

“I’ve never had anxiety but you’ve given me a better understanding of what my wife is battling daily”

“I don’t feel alone anymore.”

You aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy. It’s ok that you can’t “just calm down”.

I wanted to try and address some questions I’ve received over the past week and give some updated information.

Q: “Can you explain more of your story?”

A:  I’m so incredibly excited to say that this has motivated me to finally put a book together. I’ve been trying to decide if it was a good idea or if it would even be well received, and I finally feel like I can do it. Even more than me feeling like I can do it, I feel like I need to do it. My sister, who has her Masters in mental health counseling and her provisional LPC license, will be joining me in creating a book to help those with General Anxiety Disorder and Depression. It will contain these photographs, photographs that have not been released, more writings that describe symptoms, exercises for day to day self-care and handling panic, and our full stories as two young women who have battled these disorders for over a decade. I will be posting more information on social media as it comes together.

Q: “Do you sell prints, or would you be interested in selling them?”

A: I’m still figuring out My Anxious Heart. But I will update everyone soon! Until then you can find previous works for sale at http://www.society6.com/katiejoy

Q: “What are some ways you have dealt with the panic? Is there anything I can do to make this easier on my loved one?”

A: My goal is to help each person battling this illness to address their anxiety and deal with it at the root. I want them to know that just like with any illness, there is a source. There may not be a cure, but there are ways to treat it without just numbing the symptoms. I also want to be able to provide insight to those who have never experienced it. These are all things I will cover in the book, but I will be posting a blog within the week that will explain the things I did to begin facing my anxiety.

I need to thank you all hundreds of times. This has not been an easy journey. Life already has its challenges and being tormented by your own thoughts doesn’t help in any way. Thank you for being vulnerable, honest, and open. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for your encouragement and support. Thank you for fighting everyday to continue to live your life as best as you can. Thank you for being genuine. I may have captured the photographs, but I didn’t describe anything new. It’s a battle. It’s a daily fight for freedom of your own mind. 

I’ve been anxious my entire life. Your body goes into fight or flight mode when you’re anxious. My whole life I’ve chosen flight. My first response is “GET OUT NOW”. But when I read all of the responses, I felt this drive to fight for the first time in my life. I’m fighting for each person that feels alone. I’m fighting for those who are too scared to do it themselves. I’m fighting for those who can’t articulate their pain. And I’m fighting to end a stigma that has created an obstacle for anyone to speak out about their mental illness. 

I want to end this stigma that “it’s all in your head”. It IS in your head; and that’s the most terrifying part.

 

 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, feedback, or anything you’d like to share.

Contact about the project: myanxiousheart@gmail.com

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16 thoughts on “From the bottom of my heart, Thank You

  1. I, too, have lived a very anxious filled life. Tormented by the burden in which I carried every single day of my life. It took me losing myself to find myself and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and felt extremely guilty for. From being on the edge of death to running away from my problems… Sleeping n a grace yard becuz my soul was so lost I figured this would be the best way it would resonate within myself and I could wake up better. How wrong I was. It only got worse. So I began cutting myself and beating myself up on a daily basis, it was horrible. My ex husband finally admitted me to a 5 day commitment center for crazy people so I could take a break and understand what I was doing to myself. It took about 3 years of being on the extreme end of the black hole of anxiety I was in. But it’s made me into the person I am today and everyday I make more and more progress. I will never be that person I was… She’s dead but something new and more special has came thru me.. And I am grateful!!
    My memories and life as I knew it haunted me 24/7… I read this quote “pain is guaranteed but suffering is up to u.” Chaos and pain had become my addiction, my muse. I only felt creative when the pain was so raw my words flowed together like waves on the sea… So natural. And I liked it.
    Being told by my ex husband I’ll never amount to anything, u deserve whoever u find cuz he’ll be a piece of shit just like u. It was devastating to me. Here is a poem (one of many!!) I wrote while going thru my darkest days:
    Abandoned and left to die…
    Heaviest burden when ur left to die…
    Nobody knows the pain inside
    All they see is these tears I hold inside.
    Never again could I ever trust a man
    For it was him who left me scattered on the floor with nothing but pieces to pick back up and figure out where they go.
    The children all believe I’m good for nothing
    And I beat myself with the shame of how u left me
    Just leave me alone
    I don’t know how to be who I use to be
    I don’t know who I am
    Reflection in the mirror is not one I understand..
    From baby to child to teenager to adult
    To sister, mother, aunt, wife
    Many names with no face
    And I am never someone who could ever be replaced
    Left me here to die
    It wasn’t a lie
    Abandoned and alone
    No place to call home.

    By Kara Gibson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, my name is Diane and I have been suffering from anxiety disorder. Those photos are amazing. They really makes me see how I’m suffering. Beautiful pictures. I’m not happy and I struggle to feel like I should stay within the living, but a dark cloud hangs over me and won’t go. I’m in therapy right now and still not clear yet…maybe its the people around me.

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  3. Beautiful and scary pictures. My daughter is going through depression and anxiety and these pictures illustrate exactly what she writes in her diary.

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  4. Thank you for creating such a beautifully horrifying and accurate depiction of anxiety and depression. My jaw dropped lower with each image. I too have lived mired in the bleak confusion. Thank you again.

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  5. Those pictures are beautiful yet horrifying!!!! I can say that the pictures made me understand better what is going on in my daughters head.

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  6. Stunning work, Katie! You have given people images for things that are nearly impossible to describe accurately in words. Your art reaches out to those affected and those who love people who are affected. Truly inspired and inspiring. Thank you!

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  7. Hello Katie Joy, I saw this on UPWORTHY and wanted to let you know how much it touched me. I was ‘officially diagnosed’ with both anxiety and depression in November, 1990, after caring for my mom for 7 months until her death. The diagnoses had less to do with her death than it did with my need to ‘do it right’. As I’m sure you know, we can never ‘get it right’ in OUR definitions, because that really means perfect – no one can do that, but I forgot to tell ME that!! Now that it’s been over 20 years and after lots of meds and therapy, I finally understand so much more about my need to be perfect in ALL ways and I’ve discovered that my depression and perhaps my anxiety too date back to my childhood.

    When I was first diagnosed I really knew nothing about either condition and actually told my therapist that I had never had depression. All this in spite of having worked with people who experienced mental disorders for most of my career. Somehow I must have just buried my knowledge of depression so I wouldn’t have to recognize it in myself! GO FIGURE!!

    I am so blessed that God arranged it for my husband and I to meet each other and marrying a year and a day later. He has stood by me through all my anguishes, pain, pulling away, yada yada yada! He is my greatest love and my greatest blessing!! We’ve been married just over 46 years and I love him deeply. He has truly saved my life many times.

    Thank you for having the courage, the skill and the willingness to expose yourself in this picture story. I KNOW you have reached so many people – both those who understand this from a personal experience and those who might know someone who is experiencing these and could use a friend who understands. Please continue to share this part of your life AND the parts that are doing well and feel wonderful too! Carol Music

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  8. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, Severe Clinical Depression and Anxiety/Panic Attacks.
    Thank you for these photographs. They take explaining my illness to a new level.

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  9. Hi Kate, Bravo. You defined it and captured it with splendid photographs and a beautiful model! I have been through it, luckily relatively briefly, but I know its punishment. My son is battling it now. It is hard but what I now know of what I want, is just want to laugh with others. I think laughing is a most important aspect of a healthy life.

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  10. Oi Katie Bravo, jamais vi imagens que conseguissem descrever o que não consigo explicar ou não quero mais explicar sobre como me sinto, porque de tanto tentar e não conseguir, fiquei muito cansada e frustrada, e vc conseguiu…sem palavras

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  11. Katie my dear, well done. I had a pretty rotten decade or so with horrors that I found out were panic attacks – sadness and despair I found out were depression – I had bad situations that inspired some of it, but evidently my little chemistry was just right, too. A lot of “I need to just get OVER this,” then a bit too much crippling effect on my life, a smart & perceptive doc, medication, a couple of incredible professionals to talk it through with… and I am infinitely grateful to say, I am victim of neither depression nor anxiety at this time. Their only good effect was to provide me with bottomless empathy for those encased in these things now. But that is a pretty good benefit. Sending you sincere hugs and a reassurance: this, too, has a VERY GOOD CHANCE of passing! Katie in Colorado

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  12. Hi Katie, I too have anxiety and depression. I have had it all my life some of your pictures took my breath away as it was a true depiction of how I feel on a day-to-day basis. I have turned to drugs to cope which inevitably led me to become addicted to these drugs and now I feel as though I can’t function without them. My anxiety, depression, and drug addiction have left me feeling like a pin ball in the world as I am being bounced off, tossed from, and thrown in all directions with no control over what happens to me next or how my life turns out. It’s all I can do to brace myself for the inevitable crash. Every now and then for a split second I can imagine what it would be like to not have anxiety…the lightness of it.

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  13. I love this. If I could suggest two more pictures? The symptoms of anxiety which affects me more than any other part of depression and anxiety… A weight, a physical weight on my chest which makes me gasp for breath, it feels as though I’m being squashed and no amount of repositioning, calming, relaxing, thinking can alleviate the discomfort.
    Also, my heart beat changing, racing, skipping beats,irregular patterns and fluttering. Not like the nice butterflies in your tummy, like a black, ashen cursed butterfly changing my usual Rythm, panicking me, making my mind race and then again comes the breathlessness and the weight on my chest as a result of the affect that this “mind over matter” illness has on me.

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  14. Perfectas!!! That is how i would describe these pictures and thoughts.. Reading you from a Paradise in Mexico that it is sometimes difficult to enjoy because of suffering anxiety now and depression in the past… Losing my mom 4 months ago.. I’ve always known I’m not alone, but when i ran into your project on FB I feel hope!! And such a deep understanding… Sending you hugs and the best energy from a Mexican 30 years old woman.. Gracias, gracias, gracias!!

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  15. Thanks so much for this beautiful series! It is remarkable to me that you are able to use your challenges in such a profound and powerful way. And I believe firmly that this is the path to healing-to express, identify, and help others. Brava.

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