Eking Out To “eke out”, to make (a living) or support (existence) laboriously: They managed to eke out a living by farming a small piece of land. This set of images is spread over two different roles of 35mm colour film. They were all taken over the last 19 months, after a difficult break-up from an abusive and (at times, mutually) toxic relationship of almost 3 years, resulted in my having a mental breakdown on January 30th, 2018. They were taken during a time of severe mental and emotional turmoil (the effects of which are still very much present and active in my daily life — anxiety, depression, trauma and suicide), as well as frequent moving from place-to-place while I searched for a home-base to start my healing process. The work offers an honest insight into a world darkened by mental health issues, but also one searching for hope, while struggling to balance the cultural and social demands of living. They’re an exploration of emotion, connections with others and my surroundings, and an attempt at understanding how and what my suffering mind tries to distract and soothe itself with when things are very intense or overwhelming. The photos served as an emotional outlet for me during all of this. They were a release for my mind and creative soul. I wanted to shoot anything that caught my eye or interest, and focus on the act of taking the photograph itself rather than the almost ever-present, intrusive thoughts borne from trauma. These thoughts are very difficult to grapple with, and they often trigger or lead to suicidal thoughts. The images depict a few different things: My state-of-mind as I await access to long-term therapy and mental health support services, as well as what my experience of living and trying to cope with poor mental health is like. They also depict what I was doing (consciously or subconsciously) to “escape” my mental health issues over this period of time — places I went with my new partner, intimate moments at home, contemplating and studying anything around me. The photos reflect my personal and internal struggles, exhibited in the imperfections contained within each. The mistakes in them, such as dust and scratches on the negatives (usually removed before exhibition) remain; their flaws out-in-the-open. This can be said to directly relate to my life in general — a reference to the personal issues which have surfaced and which I am no longer capable of hiding. Subjects are out-of-focus due to the almost constant handshake, caused by anxiety. Almost every face is either turned away from me or obscured in some way. Angles in some photos are skewed. Further to this point, is the sense of tension in almost every portrait or image of my partner. He frequently struggles between his desire to help and support me, and maintaining his own self-care (mostly in the form of having time to himself); resulting in my frequent searches for ways to spend any time I can with him. I have also taken a passive role in these photographs, as although I am present in them, I am not really “visible”. Distancing my mental-self from my physical-self is a common tactic I use for coping (often manifesting in the form of dissociation). This illustrates my lack of a sense of identity and frustrations with personality flaws, my lack of confidence and self-worth, and my struggle to accept my body or love myself. This is an on-going personal project.