My story begins when a close childhood friend came to me in high school and was worried about being judged over a painful secret he held. In order to keep his cover, he told others that we were dating. He then told me not to deny this story to any of my friends because then people would find out his secret and he would kill himself. As a result, I isolated myself from others, which led to many mental health impacts, specifically on my Tourettes.
Tourettes is a neurological disorder often characterized by involuntary tics and vocalizations. My Tourettes was on the lower end of the spectrum because most of my tics were muscular in my neck and shoulders, not visible to anyone on the outside. When this close childhood friend put me in this situation, my tics flared because of the high stress. This stressful situation also impacted me in other ways, such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
As I fought this battle within myself, I became very involved with my church through the Stephen Ministry program. This involvement led me to The Summit Counseling Center where I have worked for four years. This center welcomed me as an intern when I was in high school and later hired me on as a part of the front office staff
Exposure illustrates my personal journey with mental health through the use of self-portraits and embroidery. The thread, sewn in patterns to replicate broken glass, is used to illustrate how mental health can have a shattering effect on a person's life. Mental health never goes away. It is something that is always with you, but it can be something you overcome.
Exposure shows how I have fought through my mental health journey and how I am working to help others who are also suffering. This series was created to express my personal journey, but it was also created as a thank you.
While I could never thank each and every person that had an impact on me, there are seven key people in my life that led me through my journey. I do not wish to identify them directly, so I named each of my pieces after a person that had a significant role on my journey. Each of my images is named after that person's favorite scripture so they may know how grateful I am for their love and support. I wrote this scripture in Hebrew so as not to distract the piece itself with a biblical title, but to focus on the message between the threads.
You never know the impact you have on a person, whether it's the person sitting next to you in class, in a meeting at work, or the front office receptionist at a counseling center. It's not about a perfect story or a specific person, but the journey as a whole and how each person you come across will lead you to the next.
To the team at The Summit Counseling Center: you are my second family. You took a risk hiring a high school intern, allowing me to be a part of your mission, not even realizing what I was going through in my own life. You welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to become a part of something impactful that would change my life forever. It is because of each person at The Summit that I can share my story and work to remove the stigma on mental health.
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© 2018 Charlotte McDonnold, All Rights Reserved
- Date submitted
19 July 2022
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Photography with Embroidery, 24” x 30”