“Firsthand Accounts” is a photo series that portrays stories of ordinary people from all walks of life. This project offers a voice to the voiceless — unique individuals seeking to share lessons from their life experiences. In turn, these lessons, or “accounts” will serve as “firsthand” evidence to bridge a connection with a wider audience. All personal anecdotes documented in this series were organically collected through chance encounters in downtown Austin, Texas.
“This is an excerpt from my writings during a particularly tough time in my life. It was a period that made me realize the thin line between sanity and insanity. Each small decision during this time decided the kind of person I have become today.” — Ayushi Jain
How can negative emotional experiences be transformed into opportunities for individual growth?
“This past August, the universe delivered to me the ocean as my higher power when in a deep depression. Though I cannot hold onto water, I can hold it in a special place in my heart. I love to take long walks on the beach to be in the presence of the water, and to witness the ocean’s vastness, blueness, and beauty.” — Sophia Falco
“Water Striders” addresses the mundane through a surreal metaphor. Focused on the abstract feeling of monotony or depression (or whatever it is the reader can find in it), “Water Striders” juxtaposes this with a fantastical realm, creating a mystical narrative of negative emotionality. Finally, when the protagonist breaks the cycle, the readers are left wondering whether this leads to something better, worse, or just different — we can’t know.
How often do you question your existence or the existence of others? Can we ever feel completely certain of the external world (or even our own inner world)? The following visual art series, “Disintegral,” focuses on the alienating effects of dissociative disorders, in which the sufferer feels fragmented, solipsistic, and unreal. “Disintegral” focuses on this fragmentary feeling through a series of pen and ink drawings.
“Clean Kitchen” addresses the issues of elder abuse and the devastating effects dementia has on relationships.
The following personal history piece focuses on the author’s journey in the mental healthcare system, through both psychiatry and psychotherapy. It also deals with how stigmatizing and detrimental the system (and the world) can be to those with mental illnesses. This memoir-style essay tells the story of the author’s illness like it’s the big bad wolf, and walks the reader with her on the journey to coping with it. It’s a piece that not only talks about the author’s individual reality, but also the greater reality of the world of psychology, psychiatry, and mental illness.
Mistakes or poor treatment in romantic relationships create tension and leave the individuals involved with a choice — to forgive or not to forgive? If the goal is to stay together, forgiveness is a huge part of moving on. But is the partner more likely to make the same mistakes or behave in the same inappropriate ways if forgiveness is granted? Holding the partner accountable might encourage changed behavior, but what if that doesn’t work? How do you know when the healthy choice is to forgive or to let go?
Dissociation is an experience of human existence that affects one’s sense of identity or perception of time, and can create a feeling of disconnection from one’s thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. How does a dissociated state impact our youth, our development, or (more integrally) our personalities?
Appearing in Leviticus, the concept of a scapegoat is that of two goats — while one is sacrificed, the other is released into the wilderness to carry the sins of the community. Family dynamics and the process of development can lead to the scapegoating of a family member, as someone unfairly blamed for the errors of the group. How does a process such as this taint an individual’s worldview, faith, or trust in others?