This project is based on conversations with other woman-identified people who deal with mental illness. While the project isn’t exclusively focused on women, these three conversations (one of which was with myself) had striking similarities. All of us spoke about how the language doctors and institutions have used to talk about our bodies doesn’t feel accurate. We all expressed a longing for a new way to communicate, and by extension, to be heard. This said, mental illness is an incredibly specific experience. Everyone has their own images, sensations, triggers, and identities that come together to form an alternate reality that is endlessly difficult to describe. This project isn’t about capturing the whole of our experiences, but merely setting up a new set of images, sounds, and ways to communicate them. 

I asked the interviewees the following questions:

– Does the “name” of your mental illness feel accurate?
– What would you rename it?
– How does your mental illness move? (it may be helpful to think of an animal)
– What objects do you associate with your mental illness?
– If there was a procedure to “remove” your mental illness, what would it include?
– How about a machine to remove it?
– If your comfort was a room, what would it look like?
– Tell me about the sounds and objects in the room.

This project is ongoing, and will eventually include several more videos, including one about objects in the subjects’ “comfort rooms.”  If you are interested in having a conversation and allowing me to illustrate your experience with any and all mental illnesses, you can reach me at anatomyinterview@gmail.com.

Julia Horwitz is a writer and artist who uses sequins, stop motion, and ghosts to talk about trauma and identity, among other things. More of her work can be found here.

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