Though this is a very personal subject, I no longer feel it is a part of my life I need to, or should hide. I feel it is important to share my story, and by doing so, I hope others will feel less alone. With this feature, I hope to increase the visibility of depression and to reach out to others who are suffering.

I was ten years old the first time I remember feeling depressed. Ten years old. It was years before I accepted my depression, and even longer before I ever saw a therapist. For the nine years before I sought help, I just assumed I was a weak and worthless person.

Even after years of therapy, and occasional periods on anti-depressants, I still suffer from depression. Thankfully because of the therapy, I know what my triggers are and how to handle them. I am aware of everything I eat, how much I sleep, how much exercise I get, and even the roles I choose. All of these things factor into my mental health. A year ago I stopped consuming alcohol of any kind to try and reduce my risk of breast cancer (which runs in my family), and because of how quickly alcohol can trigger a depressive episode. I try my best to stay off of medications, so I have to make specific lifestyle choices to make that happen.

This winter was particularly hard (thanks, Seattle weather). But now that I am at a place in my life where I can confidently own my mental illness, I thought, “Why not express this artistically?” I emailed my friend Dawndra to see if she would be interested in helping me, and she agreed right away.

We wanted to capture the feelings of despair, aloneness, and sadness that come with depression. Here are some of her breathtaking shots:


Depression- Jessica Martin 3 Depression- Jessica Martin 14 Depression- Jessica Martin 15 Depression- Jessica Martin 5 Depression- Jessica Martin 19 Depression- Jessica Martin 18 Depression- Jessica Martin 17 Depression- Jessica Martin 7 Depression- Jessica Martin 16


If you or someone you know is battling a mental illness, there is hope, and do not hesitate to reach out for help. Here are some great resources:

Seattle Therapy Alliance 

Dandelion Paths

National Alliance on Mental Health

Active Minds

Web MD Resources

You can also call your insurance provider to find therapists in your area that accept your coverage.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone: one in four adult Americans suffer from a mental illness. Together we can find the lighthouse through the storm

All my love,

PS. For a humorous, yet very accurate, interpretation of depression, please read this post by Hyperbole and  Half.

And please feel free to leave a comment or your reaction to the photos.


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  • Comments

    1. Darren

      Wow Jessica, I had no idea.. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this story. Wonderful shots, you certainly captured that feeling of sadness and despair. I have a friend whom is suffering from depression right now, its not easy trying to show him how talented he is and how much he is loved and cared about. It feels like no matter how many times I try to tell him otherwise, he continues to feel negative towards his work (he’s an artist) and what his friendship means to me and others. He won’t let me in, sometimes it feels like he’s listening, but then its clear nothing I’m doing or saying is making a difference.

      Any advice?

      1. jessicamartin

        That’s tough to see someone suffering. Unfortunately, he is going to have to want to change for himself. Until that time, anything you say may not get through to him. Of course if you believe he is in danger of harming himself or others, call emergency services right away. Otherwise, just let him know that you are there for him if he ever needs anything and that you love him and admire his work. Pushing positive feelings on a depressed person can make things worse, so just let him know you are there and let him come to you.
        Best wishes for your friend,

    2. Faith M

      Thanks for this post Jessica. Sharing another person’s experience always evokes such a strange sensation; somehow out of pain and struggle you find inspiration, comfort, liberation and light.

      Really wonderful photos. Did you and Dawndra intentionally include only shots that never show your face in full exposure?

      Also, LOVED the post by Hyperbole and Half :).

    3. Jarrod Turpin

      Thanks for sharing your experience and struggles with depression; especially through art. Being someone who has struggled with this throughout his life it’s nice to hear others stories and how they are managing it. Why do so many of us become actors? 🙂 Or, was in my case. I guess it’s that darkness that helps bring light to our characters.

      BTW, I was drawn to your page by the short film “In The Pines” through a music video made up of your short here:

      Keep up the great work!


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