"they keep telling me to breathe. i can feel my chest moving up and down. up and down. up and down. but why does it feel like i’m suffocating? i hold my hand under my nose, making sure there is air. i still can’t breathe."
“they keep telling me to breathe. i can feel my chest moving up and down. up and down. up and down. but why does it feel like i’m suffocating? i hold my hand under my nose, making sure there is air. i still can’t breathe.”

For people who suffer from anxiety disorders, the symptoms can manifest in different ways. For some people, anxiety can make you feel dizzy or nauseated, for others it could mean insomnia or heart palpitations. Each person can carry anxiety differently, physically and emotionally. A panic attack can show up as an upset stomach, dizziness, tingling of fingers or toes or insomnia. Emotionally, the symptoms are more difficult to pinpoint and describe.

Katie Crawford, a recent graduate from LSU, decided to use photography to show her struggle with anxiety. Katie has struggled with general anxiety disorder for the last ten years and for her senior exhibition thesis, she captured what anxiety feels like through a series of self-portraits.

I decided to explore what I was feeling and these intense emotions, and the symptoms that are both physical and mental of dealing with anxiety.

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"my head is filling with helium. focus is fading. such a small decision to make. such an easy question to answer. my mind isn’t letting me. it’s like a thousands circuits are all crossing at once."
“my head is filling with helium. focus is fading. such a small decision to make. such an easy question to answer. my mind isn’t letting me. it’s like a thousands circuits are all crossing at once.”

Her semester-long project, which she titled, “My Anxious Heart,” ironically aggravated her feelings of anxiousness. Finding ways to express the physical and emotional symptoms of her anxiety, she turned to the journal she had kept for the last 5 years, which helped her design the photos in the series. In this project, Katie hopes to not only depict the weight she bears with anxiety but to help people understand the “internal and external struggles of someone living with this disorder.”

Katie says in her post that the project has been therapeutic and has helped her learn about herself and the disorder. “It helped me cope more than I thought it would,” she says. “It was like I was gaining control of my life by identifying what induced panic in my life.

[REWIND: LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER CREDITS PHOTOGRAPHY TO HELP HIM BEAT DEPRESSION]

Katie-Crawford-4 Katie-Crawford-5

cuts so deep it’s like they’re never going to heal. pain so real, it’s almost unbearable. i’ve become this… this cut, this wound. all i know is this same pain; sharp breath, empty eyes, shaky hands. if it’s so painful, why let it continue? unless… maybe it’s all that you know.
cuts so deep it’s like they’re never going to heal. pain so real, it’s almost unbearable. i’ve become this… this cut, this wound. all i know is this same pain; sharp breath, empty eyes, shaky hands. if it’s so painful, why let it continue? unless… maybe it’s all that you know.

katie-crawford-7 katie-crawford-8

Katie hopes to continue to explore her anxiety through her photography. To see more from Katie’s project and follow her work:

CREDITS: Photographs by Katie Crawford are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

[Via USA Today]