Discovering Recovery through a Different Lens

Resilience Collective’s PhotoStory

I was 19 years old when I experienced my first struggle with my mental health. At that time I felt really alone. Like I had no one to reach out to and that only acted as a catalyst for the problem ahead. People reached out to me but my fear of them not understanding how I really felt kept me from sharing anything I was going through.

Singapore has since made noticeable strides in the collective mental wellness effort. The Ministry of Manpower has issued directives on what employers can do, mental health will be part of the new curriculum in secondary schools and on a more macro scale, there has been increased social awareness of mental health issues in general.

Part of this has manifested in Resilience Collective’s PhotoStory: From Darkness to Light

From Darkness to Light celebrates the journey of mental health recovery through visual imagery. The collection of photos are essentially visual voices of people who are living the experience of a mental health condition. To me, they encapture what it means to be resilient. To be unafraid and authentic about their struggles and to help in aiding to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Through visiting the exhibition, I had the great honor of meeting three of the photographers, Benjamin, Karen and Sheryl. All of whom had a profound impact in shaping how I viewed mental health and some of the key challenges they face in tackling them. Benjamin shared about his honest experience with substance abuse and how he chose to lend his power only to things that he can control. Karen illustrated her experience with OCD and the effect it had at her workplace. Through that I had a better understanding of some of the repercussions that OCD can bring and how it can differ from person to person. Sheryl taught me how to channel pain and hurt into constructive avenues such as exercise or creative expressions such as art and photography and that mental struggles need not be diagnosed to be recognized.

Through all of the exhibits, the key takeaway for me was that recovery is not linear. More often than not, we tend to have a societal misconception that the mental health recovery process is akin to a physical injury, that there is some arbitrary timeline at which point someone should be “healed”. But the truth is, recovery is by and large a non-linear process, dotted with highs and lows. This has altered my existing and somewhat flawed rationale in how I approach trying to “solve” my own mental health struggles as well as how I can be a better friend to my peers who are going through similar struggles. Even if you think you have a somewhat decent understanding of mental health struggles, From Darkness to a Light is still an excellent opportunity to discover the recovery process through a different lens.

I am immensely grateful for the experience and I hope everyone will have the chance to witness and journey with the exhibits to truly understand what it means to be resilient.

Authored by: Arif Woozeer. Arif is an intellectually curious fellow who’s a constant adventure seeker. He enjoys podcasts, sugar-free coffee, and is a fervent adherent of Stoicism.

We thank our blog contributors and applaud their strength in finding the words to share their lived experience, not only as part of the personal recovery journey but to inspire and bring hope to others who might be facing mental health challenges.

PhotoStory: From Darkness to Light exhibition ended a successful physical 1st run with over 1,100 visitors at Raffles City. While the exhibition and fundraising efforts continue online, the second run of the physical exhibition will take place from 5 to 18 March 2021 at Plaza Singapura. Visit www.resilience.org.sg/photostory for more.

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