Mental illness has been described as the last taboo, I think there are still plenty of taboos to break, but mental illness certainly is one we could do more to understand and empathise with. Depression is estimated to effect 350 million people across planet earth. That’s a pretty scary number.
Christian Hopkins from Philadelphia suffered from depression from an early age. Not the sort of “depression” when you feel a little sad and cry at Bambi, but the big bad ugly depression that cripples you.
Hopkins was studying Biochemistry at university, but the depression was so bad that he had to take a lot of time off on medical grounds. As a way of getting through the tough times he picked up a camera and, from an early age, started to make these gripping images.
Throughout my life I’ve had these demons that I’m battling against, just really negative thoughts that I couldn’t control… Whenever I had to describe it, I had nothing to say, but I had images, I had ways to express myself through pictures, to fight against my depression.
Hopkins explains that whenever he had a pervasive disturbing thought that he couldn’t shift from his mind, he would photograph it and it kind of exorcised the thought and got rid of it.
It sounds like photography has made a significant difference to his ailments, which I imagine will give others in the same boat a portion of hope. His photographs certainly are bleak and sinister, that’s for sure. Take a look over the following slides:
(Navigate through the images using the left and right arrows)