The series explores the experiences of 10 people as they open up about how mental health has touched their lives
Better representation of disability is something that has been going from strength to strength in recent years. Of course, there’s still a long way to go before we have total parity in the media, advertising, and elsewhere – though slowly but surely, progress is being made.
Zebedee, a modelling agency specialising in representing disabled models, is breaking down barriers this World Mental Health Day – with a series of striking images that give a glimpse into the experience of living with a mental illness.
“A big part of what we do is raising awareness, and talking about our models and their conditions,” Zoe Proctor, co-director of Zebedee tells Happiful. “In the past, we’ve focused on physical disability, but we really felt we wanted to do something about mental health.
“A lot of our guys have mental health problems that we don’t often talk about. With World Mental Health Day, we thought, let’s put our heads together and start a conversation.”
Highlighting the contrast between what we show on the outside and what’s going on below the surface, here are just some of the shots from Zebedee’s shoot.
Ruth recalls that she always struggled with her mental health. But it wasn’t until her physical health took a turn for the worse that things began to intensify.
“Depression sucks away all the happiness from you, and it’s like you’re constantly walking around with a black rainy cloud over you no one else has and no one else can see,” writes Ruth in the campaign blog post. “So you smile and carry on, but underneath the rain is pouring down and you’re just trying not to drown.”
For Monique, mental health problems were something that she was told to expect would come automatically with having a disability. “I guess that may be why so many people mention and are shocked that I always seem happy, [and] that I’m always bubbly and laughing,” she explains.
Things haven’t been easy for Monique, and she describes difficult times where she struggled with depression at a young age.
“From then I tried to never dwell too long on the negative. That at the end of the struggle, it will get better. I remind myself that nothing now is as bad as then.”
Diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at just 10 years old, Georgina also lived with depression for a period of time.
“I remember my clinic specialist talking about everything a couple of years after diagnosis, and then I realised that it’s not just low moods anymore. I didn’t realise I was falling into depression. It happened so quickly and, in a way, easily,” she explains. “It’s not surprising that negatives fill your mind when your world gets flipped upside down after getting diagnosed with something like a chronic illness. I grieved for the life I had lost to my CFS/ME.”
Read the full stories and see the rest of the photoshoot by visiting the Zebedee website.
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