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Hygge x Depression

Hygge: "A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being"


I released a few images many months ago with the intent of turning it into a full series but as time went on I started to think about the implications of doing a project like this and what kind of light it would create on both myself as well as my "brand."  As I spoke to people about my experiences with depression and this project, their responses would come with an air of pity, confusion and sometimes even disdain, even if they had "nice" words to say. It wasn't as though those people weren't supportive of me as a person. It's just that they don't like the idea of bringing things like depression and mental illness into the open for others to see because depression is "unprofessional", "doesn't show me in a good light" and "isn't something clients want to know or see." And for a really long time I struggled with that. As someone creating a brand for himself, is this something I can afford to have attached to my brand? As someone looking to be working in a professional setting, is talking about mental health going to impact the opportunities I'll have in the future? 

The more I thought the more confused I got, and the more conflicted I felt about sharing this. But I came to the realization that this field I've dived so deep into, photography, when stripped down to the most basic concepts, about storytelling. When I was younger I always thought I was all alone; the only one among my friends who felt the way I did. Stuck, alone and hopelessly hanging on. But as I got older, I saw more and more stories going through the same thing i did. 

And so here we are with this project. As perpetual as something like depression can be, the fact remains that for many people, the knowledge of being in that state is only possible from also having experienced things like kindness, support, and comfort. I think when telling the stories of people that struggle with depression it's as important to remember that we're more than our mental illness! I can't speak for everyone that will be featured in this series, but I find it important to remind myself that my being is as much my depression as it's also my passions and aspirations.

To my friends who agreed to participate in this: thank you. Thank you for opening up to me and thank you for trusting me to share your story. Lastly, thank you for waiting so long for me.

And so without further ado, I present to you: Hygge x Depression. A series (long in the making) on the juxtaposition between physical areas of comfort and depression. 


T

"I feel depression strongest when I'm isolated."

"I feel depression strongest when I'm isolated."

"I feel hygge when I'm in the warmth of home and protected from weather like storms and snow."

"I feel hygge when I'm in the warmth of home and protected from weather like storms and snow."


Jamie

"When my depression is bad, it isn't really sadness. It’s just sitting around and not feeling anything. Eventually nothing seems like it’s worth taking care of. I stop texting people back, I stop taking showers, I stop going to therapy. I stop investing in anything because it all feels like more trouble than it’s worth. So instead of engaging, I just sit on the sofa until it's time to go to bed again."

"When my depression is bad, it isn't really sadness. It’s just sitting around and not feeling anything. Eventually nothing seems like it’s worth taking care of. I stop texting people back, I stop taking showers, I stop going to therapy. I stop investing in anything because it all feels like more trouble than it’s worth. So instead of engaging, I just sit on the sofa until it's time to go to bed again."

"I feel hygge when I go for long drives with no real destination. On a warm night with the windows down, driving on quiet roads helps me clear my mind and center myself around something simple and sensory. It allows me to be comfortable in the moment—I don't have to think about anything besides the immediate processes of driving the car and taking in my surroundings."

"I feel hygge when I go for long drives with no real destination. On a warm night with the windows down, driving on quiet roads helps me clear my mind and center myself around something simple and sensory. It allows me to be comfortable in the moment—I don't have to think about anything besides the immediate processes of driving the car and taking in my surroundings."


Morgan

"Parties. I can enjoy myself but there's this constant nagging of loneliness which is the biggest symptom of my depression. I always feel it but being surrounded by people and still having that crushing weight is devastating. I'm exhausted by the end of the night because I've spent hours overthinking everything I do. Parties are a reminder that there's something really wrong with me because no matter how many people surround me, I'm alone."

"Parties. I can enjoy myself but there's this constant nagging of loneliness which is the biggest symptom of my depression. I always feel it but being surrounded by people and still having that crushing weight is devastating. I'm exhausted by the end of the night because I've spent hours overthinking everything I do. Parties are a reminder that there's something really wrong with me because no matter how many people surround me, I'm alone."

"Right when I wake up in the morning. Everyone knows that moment when they wake up and everything's okay. I never appreciated it until recently.  I just moved out from my mother's home and I have my own space for the first time in a few years. In the morning, light comes in from my windows and hits spaces in the carpet. It's the first thing I see every day and as weird as it is it makes me feel at peace."

"Right when I wake up in the morning. Everyone knows that moment when they wake up and everything's okay. I never appreciated it until recently.  I just moved out from my mother's home and I have my own space for the first time in a few years. In the morning, light comes in from my windows and hits spaces in the carpet. It's the first thing I see every day and as weird as it is it makes me feel at peace."


Steven

"I feel depression strongest when I'm alone and under a lot of stress. I'll often get hit with a whirlwind of assignments that are due at the same and cripple my psyche. Lying in bed, thinking of all that needs to be done, and feeling like I can't reach out to anyone makes up the trifecta of me falling to my lowest point."

"I feel depression strongest when I'm alone and under a lot of stress. I'll often get hit with a whirlwind of assignments that are due at the same and cripple my psyche. Lying in bed, thinking of all that needs to be done, and feeling like I can't reach out to anyone makes up the trifecta of me falling to my lowest point."

"I feel hygge when I'm practically anywhere with my close friends. Getting food, playing games together, you name it. It usually takes a lot out of me to engage socially for prolonged spans of time. But with the right people, I feel radiance and warmth for as long as we're together — be it a friendly wave as we cross paths or a multi-day sleepover."

"I feel hygge when I'm practically anywhere with my close friends. Getting food, playing games together, you name it. It usually takes a lot out of me to engage socially for prolonged spans of time. But with the right people, I feel radiance and warmth for as long as we're together — be it a friendly wave as we cross paths or a multi-day sleepover."


Michael

"I feel the most depressed when I'm emotionally rejected. The carnival was the first place I experienced that feeling. I essentially run on my emotions; to reject them is to basically reject me as a whole."

"I feel the most depressed when I'm emotionally rejected. The carnival was the first place I experienced that feeling. I essentially run on my emotions; to reject them is to basically reject me as a whole."

"I feel the most hygge when I'm playing fighting games with other people. This outlet has given me a way to express myself freely without judgement. The community within fighting games is amazing too. I can honestly say that my life would be ten times different if I didn't have this outlet or community."

"I feel the most hygge when I'm playing fighting games with other people. This outlet has given me a way to express myself freely without judgement. The community within fighting games is amazing too. I can honestly say that my life would be ten times different if I didn't have this outlet or community."


Shirley

"When they say "you are your own worst enemy," they're not wrong. In my room where I'm the most comfortable and alone, I am also vulnerable to a trainwreck of thoughts and emotions."

"When they say "you are your own worst enemy," they're not wrong. In my room where I'm the most comfortable and alone, I am also vulnerable to a trainwreck of thoughts and emotions."

"To me, hygge is a fleeting moment in which I recognize a pure sense of enjoyment. I feel genuine at the gym, knowing that my surrounding peers are busy focusing on their own activity to place attention on others. At the same time, it's the place that inspired and connected me to close friends who have contributed to other experiences of hygge."

"To me, hygge is a fleeting moment in which I recognize a pure sense of enjoyment. I feel genuine at the gym, knowing that my surrounding peers are busy focusing on their own activity to place attention on others. At the same time, it's the place that inspired and connected me to close friends who have contributed to other experiences of hygge."


Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

To be a part of this project: call/text (240) 401-1288 or send me an email