Mental illness spotlighted in exhibit by artist who struggled with depression
'We all believe in you': Photographer hopes project inspires community and support
Mental illness throws shadows on lives and loved ones, but an Edmonton photographer hopes her new art project will shed light.
Blake Loates photographed people in Edmonton who battled mental illness, including Mountie Ron Campbell and the sisters of a University of Alberta student who died from suicide, so they could share their stories and create a new community.
Loates herself was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when she was just 14 years old.
"When you're depressed, you feel so alone. You feel like you're the only person on earth who's going through this," Loates said, as she described crippling panic attacks and distorted thinking.
"I didn't even leave my bedroom for like two months."
Anchors in art
Back then, her mom told her not to tell anyone about her problems. "It wasn't something that people were talking about, nor something that people really understood," Loates said.
But she rejected that idea, "because I felt it [the illness] wasn't my fault." She has openly shared her story over the past 20 years, and now she's giving others the chance to do the same.
The project is called "We all believe in you," a positive affirmation Loates believes people need to hear.
"'We all believe in you' is basically the community coming together to believe in a person who really needs that belief and hope that they may not otherwise have," she said.
"They can look to us to have a community for them and feel that they can make it through to tomorrow, or even just get through this minute or hour."
The full collection of photos will be on display at the Art Gallery of Alberta May 2 to open mental health awareness week.