Anxiety sufferers – you are not alone!
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 1 in 4 people will suffer from anxiety. However, many are afraid to speak out about their experience and seek help, fearing judgement from those around them.
In a recent interview with the BBC, John Mannell shared his inspiring mental health journey, and how reaching out to strangers helped more than just himself.
Now 32, seven years ago when John finished university, all was going well. That is until he began having anxiety attacks that were so bad he hardly left the house outside of work.
John says: “I spent months where I’d literally just go home and sit in a blackened room, and keep myself shut away. I’d sit in the dark thinking everything was collapsing around me. It’s very suffocating and restrictive.”
The severity of his situation pushed John to seek help. He was diagnosed with depression and joined a therapy group.
It was here that a new friend made a life-changing suggestion: to try and reignite his love for photography and use this as a push to get out of his comfort zone – and his house.
He started close to home, going out only at night when nobody else was around. The thought of speaking to other people was overwhelming.
Over time though, John started to yearn for more interesting subject matter.
Portrait per day
A tutor challenged John to commit to something new for 365 days. His bold idea was to take a picture of a stranger every day.
Gradually, with the positive reinforcement of his artwork and the reaction of the people he approached, John’s confidence grew.
He was surprised when people opened up to him about their own experiences.
“I’ve met people going through some bad times themselves, and who haven’t had the confidence to tell anyone,” he said.
John completed his portrait a day challenge and now feels better and able to cope with his anxiety. You can see his work on Instagram.