SEEDS: An artistic exploration of Mental Health


**TRIGGER WARNING** The following post includes graphic images pertaining to depression, mental illness, and self-harm. Viewers discretion is advised.

SEEDS: An artistic exploration of Mental Health
in collaboration with Moonsong Photography
Special thanks to our model, Tannis, for her vulnerability & strength, and her beautiful poetry.

Before you jump in, you should know that this is not what we had planned for this session.

This is also the first session we have ever done that has no real marketing value. But I would venture to say that it has been the most important one we have ever worked on.

So how did we end up here? Where do we even begin.

I honestly don’t know.

Without going into too much detail, I have been revisiting (unwillingly) aspects of my own mental health and am having to find alternative methods of support that I haven’t had to utilize in quite some time. There is a lot of shame and frustration in this process – a lot of internal dialogue that must be closely monitored. And I suppose that when I began piecing this session together, I simply wanted to acknowledge this experience in general, knowing that it is shared by so many others, in varying degrees, forms, etc.

Everyone who worked on this session has had their own individual experiences with mental health. And I know that countless people reading this post and viewing these images have also had their own individual experiences and struggles. And even though we are starting to see more support when talking about these issues, it is still not an easy subject to bring up. Nor is it easy to advocate for yourself during these times, or even find the help you need in our current health care climate.

Much of this gallery will be hard to view, but it has been created because we know that as hard as they are to see, the emotions and states of mind we have tried to capture here are infinitely harder to feel and experience. And for those who have experienced these, are experiencing these, or may in the future, please know that you are not weak…

You are the strongest, most beautiful, baddest bitches out there.

Although we may not understand your individual pain, we see you and hold space for it.

And although the corners and crevices and holes are dark and lonely, we can sit with you in them.

For every negative internal narration, there is a counter. Those words may feel empty, now, but together, we can make them more and more real with practice and time.

Your scars are not parts of you that show the world how you fell, but how you kept going. You have to be here, trying, in order for those wounds to become scars.

And if all of that is nice to hear but still feels like cobwebs on the wind…

We will help to hold all of your broken pieces, remembering their beauty for you.

Your beauty.

We encourage you to view this gallery in a safe space where you are free to take your time, reflect, and practice self-care.

AHS Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642
Distress & Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta: 403-327-7905 (Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta South)

Concepts explored in order:
Brain Fog, Disassociation, Altered Perception, Overwhelm, Desolation, Loss of Identity, Negative Self-talk, Self-sabotage & Destruction, Broken Heart/Empty Heart, Self-Harm, Numbness, Isolation, Rest, Healing & Self-Care

Protea Flowers featured in the last photos of the session symbolize strength, courage, resilience and transformation.

“I cannot leave the pain behind, 
There’s no place of reprieve, 
When your mind is your worst enemy, 
It’s impossible to leave. 

 This cage within my consciousness, 
 Holds the depths of all my shame, 
So I numb until I’m separate 
From my skin and bones and frame. 

I try to make a great escape
To break into empty space, 
An empty fog  is better
Than meeting darkness face to face. 

I beg my mind to separate 
From pain I cannot bear 
But no matter how I run from it
My shame is always there

Eventually it’s all too much
And I can’t escape the night 
I can feel the breakdown coming, 
And I’m too afraid to fight 

So I fall into the darkness 
Leaving all I love behind 
Ignore the people begging me
To not let myself unwind. 

I fall until I’m broken 
A soul shattered on the ground
What once saw life feels ruined 
Potential shattered all around

I’ll stay here for a little while, 
And feel the end has come
I’ll sit amongst my broken parts
That we’re just begging to be numb. 

But somewhere deep in all the dark,
There remains a tiny seed.
It longs to be discovered
It knows it’s what I need. 

Slowly, and without much to lose,
I’ll pick up this different part
It doesn’t match my broken self
As it resembles a fresh start. 

It looks like picking up the mess, 
Leaning into truths I hold, 
It resembles knowing there’s more to life 
If I just let it unfold. 

And though this seed is tiny,
I could have lost it in the mess, 
As I see the truth it has for me, 
I prepare to leave the rest. 

This piece is more than hanging on
Or learning how to cope,
As I let it grow inside of me, 

I realize, it’s hope.”

-Tannis Chartier