Twenty Seconds To Safety
My younger sister, Katie, developed OCD last March, our mother had a mastectomy and five days later England went into a national lockdown. The combination of these events created a perfect storm. Katie was deeply fearful that she would pass on the virus to our mother and make her fatally ill, whilst she was isolating in her student halls in preparation for coming home, her OCD began.
Watching my sister experience OCD made me aware of how narrow our understanding of OCD is, and how lazy visual tropes feed this ignorance. What struck me the most about Katie’s experience is how emotional it is, and how these emotions are not linear, or operate in binaries like you may imagine. OCD is unrelenting and nuanced.
Born out of love, fear and a desire to protect, Katie’s OCD has always been intensely emotional, and continues to be. The aim of the work is to make people aware of the hidden battle that OCD sufferers continuously experience, and to challenge common preconceptions. Those suffering with their mental health is at a record high due to the coronavirus pandemic and it is vital conversations continue to be had.
Discussing how her anxiety and emotional state are affected on a daily basis revealed a range of everyday scenarios where compulsive behaviour and thoughts present in different ways. Each scenario is illustrated with a portrait of Katie on which she has intervened to show the type and intensity of her anxiety. Katie took the framework we made together and used it to create a narrative story of the emotions she goes through within each situation. The resulting images are a visual representation of the emotional distress she experiences made possible by her creative participation.