What would you rate your self-esteem right now?
Comparatively to the past, I’d say I’m at an eight.
What made you want to do this project?
I was telling you, you started this when I was in high school and it’s just helped me see myself in a much better light. I’ve watched my friends and people around me grow up with a lot more insecurities than I have. When I look at things people complain about themselves, I don’t see them as flaws so much as ways that I’ve grown.
How do you think this shoot will change you?
I’m really curious to see how others see me. Like how you see me through your camera lens. I don’t get pictures done very often but when I do I get very self-conscious. I think having it all out there for the shoot will minimize my insecurities. Because I won’t have to hide behind clothes since they won’t exist.
How would you rate your self-esteem right now?
Like a nine right now! Feeling much better.
How did it feel to shoot nude for your first time?
Pretty good. You’re a comfortable person to be around and I trust you. It felt way more natural than shooting with clothes on!
Why do you think that is?
I feel like a lot of times I’ll use clothes to hide my insecurities. When there aren’t clothes there, there is no hiding. Even subconsciously.
What have you learned about your body through this experience?
I really walk around naked. It’s interesting to see myself in a regular setting without being it getting dressed or any other thing I’d usually do while naked in my room.
How do you practice self love?
I take a lot of bubble baths and I care for all my plants. I think that’s very grounding and gives me the opportunity to focus on one thing. It gives me a break from thinking.
How have you struggled to love yourself in the past?
I’ve always had a lot of social anxiety. I’ve only realized the last few years its not normal. I’ve struggled for years on end with social anxiety and I’m learning how to accept who I present myself as. As opposed to changing it for others.
What is an example of a time where you struggled to love your body?
When I lost a lot of weight, and I was upset that this particular part of fat did not go. I thought that because I had an extra roll there that I wasn’t skinny enough. I was googling how to get rid of it all the time. There really isn’t a way to spot weight loss so it was either surgery or becoming unhealthy skinny.
Have you ever struggled with mental health?
Yes, constantly. I have diagnosed social anxiety and depression. That was diagnosed two years ago. Before that I thought that there might be something a little bit off but I never thought it would be as serious as it was. My very first therapy appointment, I was sent to inpatient because I was suicidal and I didn’t really know that wasn’t normal. The past few years I’ve gotten a lot better with medication and therapy. I now know it’s not normal to have several plans to kill myself on a daily basis.
How is your suicidal ideation now?
I still have passing thoughts when I’m in a funk. It used to happen a couple times a day, now it’s once a day. Where my mood will dip down low enough for me to think them. Their more like automatic thoughts that I have to ward away.
What do you wish people would understand most about passive suicidal thoughts?
It’s not always because of an immediate environmental factor. IT could be the smallest thing. Like not finding a shirt. Or a stranger giving you a stare that sends you into spiral. You have to learn to pick yourself up from it and be nice to yourself but tell yourself it’s not the end of the world. It’s a trick you have to learn to do.
What other current struggles are you facing in life right now?
Money sucks. I’m doing pretty well comparatively to the past. One big thing that i’ve been trying to teach myself because I have a lot of social anxiety is learning that if someone is not coming off as kind or forwardly nice, it’s not always because I did something to them. It might be because they have their own shit going on. Because I’ve been told recently by my friend that I come off as not always super kind..I don’t mean to but I have my own shit going on. That was an eye opener though.
I think the ability to compartmentalize your own shit versus others is a learned tool.
It’s a key tool! That needs a lot of practice. It’s one of my most used tools.
Are you in therapy?
Yes. I was seeing a therapist every week, now I’m at once a month. I think once a month is fine.
What have you learned from therapy?
It’s a lot of validation to how I’ve been feeling. Having someone there to tell me that there are patterns to this behavior and that there are ways to change those patterns.
Was it easy to find a therapist?
For me? I lucked out. I had my first awful experience but my second time around I found my perfect match right away. I have gotten really lucky.
What is it like to have depression from your end?
It’s been since I was very young. Since about third grade was the first time I was really thinking about suicide and being depressed. I probably started having passive suicidal thoughts in third grade but I was pushing them away because I was Catholic and suicidal thoughts are a sin.
I was crying all the time. I had trouble making friends. Which followed me into adulthood where I got real help for the first time. It wasn’t just me being a moody kid, it was something that followed me out of adolescence. Moody kids should be taken seriously.
What do you do to cope with your depression?
My plants help a lot. I really like shopping. I like going out and spending the day in the world rather tha being cooped up in the house. I have a couple of coffee shops that I like. Or I’ll go to a greenhouse and look at the plants or buy a small plant. The humidity in the winter is one of my favorite things.
What contributes most to your current anxieties?
I have a lot of anxiety with people I know. The more I know them the more anxiety I feel. I’m good with strangers. I feel like theres a threshold. If I know them for years and years, it passes. Unfortunately, none of my family has passed that threshold. The majority of them, I mean. I just get really anxious about what people who are close to me think of me. The closer I get the more anxious I get. Like people I’m spending time with. With strangers, the short term pressure of making a good impression is less than the long term pressure of consistent performance.
Is there anything you want to leave the audience with?
If you think you might need help; get help. Even in the slightest. There is nothing wrong with having mental illness. Even in the slightest inclination of feeling sad; it never hurts to talk. There’s always something worse so don’t use that as a reason not to get help.