A racing heart, dizziness, shortness of breath and light-headedness are the typical physical manifestations of an anxiety disorder. But there is another layer the public isn’t privy to – the internal battle waged between the sufferer and his or her anxiety. It frequently goes unnoticed or misunderstood by the rest of the world despite the pervasive impact it has on the life of the sufferer. Describing her personal journey, photographer Katie Crawford likens anxiety to an entity within herself and created by her that bars her from the risk of discovery, the desire to explore new ideas, and the possibility of exiting a comfort zone.
Using her own stories and experiences, the 2015 Louisiana State University Fine Arts graduate captured the internal and external struggles of her disorder in a series of 12 self-portraits called “My Anxious Heart”. Her interpretation of her disorder through her images and accompanying texts explains the ways anxiety has the ability to weigh down and drain the sufferer.
“Through this personal journey, I have grown and found that depicting my fears has become therapeutic, as well as a gateway for others to express their oppression and begin their own healing process,” she writes.
Portraying herself as both the victim and the instigator of the anxiety born in her mind, Crawford guides the viewer through her journey. This representation is achieved with the use of black objects, materials, and the manipulation of the images in a way that evokes a sense of overprotection and a lingering presence.
“[Anxiety] makes sure that it will never be alone. It finds you when you’re in the midst of joy, or alone in your own mind. It is quiet and steady, reminding you of your past failures, and fabricating your future outcomes,” she explains.