It can be hard for people who don’t live with mental illness to understand the terrifying nuances that come with the disorders. That’s exactly why 21-year-old Dutch photographer Laura Hospes published a series of stunning self-portraits that expose what mental illness can really be like.
The project, named “UCP-UMCG” after the psychiatric hospital where the photos are set, shows Hospes as she receives treatment for anxiety, depression and disordered eating. The images beautifully expose her daily life in the hospital — and the strength it took to seek treatment.
“Having a mental illness is the hardest thing I experienced in my life,” Hospes told The Huffington Post.”People can’t see that you’re ill, they just see a normal person that can still laugh sometimes and having a nice evening. What they don’t see is the miserable hours after any social event and the breakdown I had every morning when I had to leave my bed. … And that’s just a small part of all the difficulties.”
Hospes began taking the photos her first day in the hospital, adjusting her methods of photography based on what the center would allow. Her goal for the project — in addition to documenting her own journey — is to prove to others that you can be the textbook definition of “normal” and still need to overcome difficulties.
People can’t see that you’re ill, they just see a normal person that can still laugh sometimes and having a nice evening.
“I hope people are aware of the fact that people who are in a psychiatric hospital are not crazy. They have a very difficult period in their life and need time to recover so they can be themselves again,” she said.
The photos were a cathartic way for Hospes to be in-touch with her feelings as she moved forward in the treatment process. She wants the images to serve as a powerful reminder for others whose loved ones suffer from similar mental health conditions.
“Stay with them in your mind and let them know you are thinking about them,” she explained. “That is the most thankful thing for a person who feels to be slowly ‘going crazy’ and having no control of it.”
Take a look at Hospes’ personal journey through her “UCP-UMCG” photos below.
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