In the summer of 2015, my son had a major mental health crisis. He was 15 years old. The vibrant kid that we knew had disappeared, only to be replaced by someone whose every move was governed by intrusive thoughts and his need to outrun them. Seeing him like that was the most terrifying thing any of us ever experienced.
He was subsequently diagnosed with a profound case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and what followed has been a long journey to recover his mental wellness. In the months it’s taken to get his medication regulated and to gain strength through therapy, he’s faced everything from simple misunderstanding of his condition to outright discrimination. He’s been shame-filled and suicidal.
He’s the bravest person I know. Just getting into the shower or out of the house took courage of such colossal magnitude, I still can barely fathom it. He still fights every day to get stronger.
In the winter after his diagnosis, I decided I wanted to do a portrait series to mark this time in my son’s life. He was boxing then, working out with a punching bag to channel his frustration, and I knew I wanted the starkness of black and white along with his boxing gloves to represent his battle with his brain. He’s now sharing his experience so others don’t feel alone.
As we worked together on the shoot, the words of Simon & Garfunkel’s song The Boxer kept popping into my brain.
The fighter still remains.