Laurel "Don't Fake Happiness"

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Randy Bacon with 7 Billion Ones in partnership with National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Missouri (NAMI) are proud to announce a major, multifaceted portrait art exhibition, story and short film series:

It Knows No Face

Portraits of Suicide Survivors.

Learn more HERE



Laurel’s Story:

  Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

Nine years old was probably the worst year of my life, and you wouldn’t normally think that a nine year old would hate their life and wouldn’t want to live anymore. You would think that all your problems are going to start in your twenties, but that was definitely not the case for me. I was around the age of thirteen when I started making friends and it was still sucky because nobody understood anything about depression so I still couldn’t talk about it at that age. Then it wasn’t really until high school that people could really start relating to me and it made processing and talking about things easier because I had other people who had been through something similar and who understood what I was going through.

I first started feeling depressed around the age of six and it really started affected me during the ages of eight to twelve years old, because of a lot of things that were changing. Everything was just different, more negative, and it was just really, really bad. I’ve always felt like people looked at how I dressed, how I lived, who my family was, what I had, and thought that because I had all of that there’s no way I could have depression. I’ve been told several times by my friends, “But you’re rich, you can’t have depression”.  That made me feel so much worse than actually admitting the fact that I had depression. It makes me feel so invalid, like it’s not possible for me to have depression, but it completely is, and it is valid and it’s okay.

For me, being depressed is such a vulnerable feeling. I just don’t want to fake happiness. I feel like my struggles now are more just trying to accept what happened and trying to turn it into something better than what it was. I definitely still face struggles and they’re completely different now; they’re definitely not as bad, but still extremely crappy. I think surviving that really really hard time has better prepared me for what I’m facing now; so it’s definitely not as bad and who I am and who I am around is different, so that helps. It can really just feel like you're not living anymore...like you’re just going through life like it’s just a cycle of things that you need to do to survive, and, it gets very old. You just want to break the cycle and you don’t know how, so you turn to things that aren’t exactly the best.

When I was really going through depression, I really began to isolate myself. I didn’t have friends, and it was pretty much impossible for me to make friends, so I just decided that if nobody wants to be my friend, I’ll just be alone. So I isolated myself and I wouldn’t talk to anybody. That was my daily life. At times I felt helpless and like there was no point because I was so focused on what was happening at the moment and I didn’t see myself having a better future or getting better for a long time. Every day it felt like I was putting myself through more torture, but eventually I found things in the moment that helped me just get through each day. For me I turned to my photography and poetry.

My poetry has changed so much over the year because it has changed with me...it’s still very depressing, but it’s nice to read and I think many people can relate to it. I think poetry is just really important because if there is nobody around you who understands what you’re going through chances are you can always find a poem you can relate to. I also think photography just gives me something to focus all of my energy on and it helps clear my head. If I have a really bad day and can’t stop thinking, I’ll take pictures because then I am focusing on getting a nice shot instead of what I’m going to do about this certain issue; not only does it clear my head but it also makes something pretty frickin’ beautiful.

I try to do that through my poetry and I’m hoping help people through this project as well. I also want to be a veterinarian because pets are very important to people, so if I can help pets than I am helping people too.

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Brought to you in partnership with:

7Billion Ones, Annie Busch, NAMI Southwest Missouri, and Touchstone Counseling