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The Happiness Video Project by Zach Cooper: A Preview

Hi, I’m Zach and this is my project.

One day I decided I wanted to film a bunch of people being happy for me. Real, genuine smiles. Everyday you go on social media and see negativity in some sort of way so I kind’ve wanted to break the day to day negativity down with something extremely happy and positive. You also see people claiming life is about spending money and traveling to be happy, but I think you can find happiness right in your backyard.

The idea started with filming a few people but snowballed into filming over 40 different people all smiling and doing something they love to do. My project still needs more people so I’m hoping to finish the project in 2017 but need help, I just moved from Massachusetts to New York City and don’t really know anyone here. Thankfully ‘Dear Hope’ said they could help me by sharing this project, so reach out!

I don’t bite. Come say hi and check out some of my work! I love meeting new people and guarantee we can have some smiles.

Instagram: zachcoop

Portfolio: https://productionzsc.myportfolio.com/projects


Be on the lookout for Zach’s full project early next year back here on Dear Hope.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope
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Photography Series: “Still Fighting” by Alessandra Ortiz

What if we could see depression?

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Would we still doubt its existence?

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Would we still think that it’s a sign of weakness?

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Would we still believe that it’s “just a bad day”?

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Would we still assume that it’s a cry for attention?

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Would we still fear others’ opinions of ourselves?

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Would we still be too nervous to ask for help?

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Would we lend a hand to those in need?

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Would we find the courage to fight and keep going?

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Would we finally understand that we are not alone?

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A very special thanks to Alessandra Ortiz for these beautiful photo submissions. You can find more of Alessandra’s work on her blog and Instagram. You can also read her previous submissions to Dear Hope, such as her piece, “Morning Routine” here, and her latest poem, “Her” here.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

AC

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com.

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope
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Liminal creatures: Lorca the Papergheist and Artistry Through Agoraphobia by Lorca Jolene

None of these collages are digitally created or enhanced.


I am a self-taught artist from Chicago who has been crafting chimerical and uncanny creatures from paper and ink for five years. My collages are deeply influenced by my own experiences, as a queer person with panic disorder and agoraphobia, of claiming and communicating in-betweenness in the context of health and labor.

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“Skinsmith”

Panic disorder – the bouts of paralyzing terror, the dissociation, the bone-deep exhaustion of perpetual unease – is a thing I carry around in my chest like a bullet. Living with it is like circumnavigating a spaceship through colonies of black holes inside yourself that will rip your memories and name apart… and hoping that the steering doesn’t fail. It makes “real” a feeling beyond my experience, and presents the decision everyday to invest effort and love into a world that feels as ephemeral and incomprehensible as dreams.

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“Goblin Market”

And the hardest thing about all that is pretending – around parents, colleagues, employers – that none of it is happening. Presenting to others as functional, approachable, and sociable is a constant process of alternating between different spaces in which my symptoms are more or less not permitted to exist. Years upon years of this practice has made me a creature most at home in liminal spaces and most at ease on social peripheries.

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“Lycanthrope”

A driving force between my art is the desire to create archetypes and mythos that explore liminality and ambivalence as powerful rather than defective or toxic. My collage characters are salvaged, scavenged, pieced together from a myriad of sources – their bodies literally cut nature and society at its joints and paste it back together. It is my hope that they might offer guidance and guardianship for whomever will make a binary – between psychosis and sanity, man and woman, health and deformation – their battleground.

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“Gemini”

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“November”


A special thanks to Lorca for submitting this wonderful work to us. Lorca has had work featured in RAW Artists Chicago’s recent showcase, a residency at Chicago’s Fulton Market Kitchen, ArtAscent Magazine, Chicago Literati magazine, the 365 Days 365 Artists Project.

These images are incredibly thought provoking and moving, and I hope you’ll leave a comment below about what you think.

You can find more work on Lorca’s Tumblr, Etsy Store, and Instagram.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF


Check out some more art on some of our other pages.

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on FacebookTwitterTumblr, and Instagram

A Lens Into Our World dear hope
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Poetry: quiescent ontogeny (shedding September skin)

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go back some steps and paint the rest the colors they were meant to be.

parasites preventing psychology-
absent sounds without answers, potential apart metamorphosis.
the mistakes were easy,
splitting monochrome apart of the omniscient wind.

and they never learned anything.

I couldn’t escape the quiescence of ontogeny
descending east or west in our
oblivion as nothing-
these spider webs bury dead
under my intuition
ashamed of my own decisions
refusing to light,
but the flicker always subtle in the night,
aggressive how I wanted to make it shine.

we’re butterflies with broken mirrors,
scintillatingly self-reflecting that our deepest fears will never resonate with
the man under the bridge or the
child in Idaho or the
part of my father i never want to see in myself,
but always will.
hand-crafted maps fade because we’re told to abandon
caterpillars
as if this growth was a virus and not a blessing disguised as
thousands of glass shards unlocking doors.
I wanted to know more.

I couldn’t think where my mind begins
it shifts back hollow where I started
blonde curls lost frivolously among the pile of careful maple leaves
you should’ve tried to understand while you
blurred the sharpness of this image,
shades of fuschia indecisions
evading a dream,
incomplete sets of glass menagerie fog when I fall asleep.
shuffling the shutter, parallel to the stress it put me under.
a life repeating its first day,
continuing cabarets
confusing caves in sheep
crystallize
an endless disease.

flowers don’t communicate in binary;
your daisies were fireworks,
mute mutilations of my morbidity,
simultaneously transforming
sheep from tangible reality.
as I felt every strand of indifference-

IT ALL COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

but
our faces yield yellow hues in
both pines needles and piles of
orange maples.

ashamed of where I hadn’t  been
because of the person I have yet to become
knowing what I will never be.
It was strange to see me as a human being
amorphous
feathers drifting incomplete
as crows without grief
circling aware
predicting what I could not escape
luminescent highways miles from fate
time spent
in the essence of these transgressions
pardon me gray.

what can i call colors i see,
branches of the trees from Polaroid memories,
or dreams of what the world should be?
where can i find these answers on this endless canvas,
this bruised, mountainous landscape,
constantly hammering away against our wars with self-abandonment?
what’s the spectrum where
trees and
everyone you’ve ever known that’s felt loss
can sing in harmony?

trapped in my mind,
hope is destiny when it’s not in our plans

running out of time,
the colors will fade as limbs grow thicker

footsteps erase.

mirrors adapt.

This piece is a collaboration between Zachary Johnson and Danny Kochanowski.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

-DK

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope
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Art Showcase: “Tension” – A Beautiful Discomfort by Corey Marsh

I recently spent a night talking with artist Corey Marsh about his art series entitled “Tension”. The work is simultaneously beautiful and discomforting. Later this week I’ll have a full interview posted with him, but for now enjoy these pictures and a look into the process behind them. Here’s what Marsh had to say.

My latest work has been very much focused on the body, with surreal forms composed of contorted and mashed up hands and other body parts. These are an exploration into my mental health and my emotional state of mind.

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“Hand”

I’ve recently gone through this period in my life where everything came crashing down in a tragically terrible manner. I felt these weird, overwhelming feelings that I’m not sure I know how to accurately describe with words. It was this discomfort and tension that seemed to radiate throughout my entire body. Sort of like that feeling of pins and needles when your leg is asleep – or that itch you can’t scratch because for some reason it’s the inside of your leg that itches. But instead of an itch or a pin poking at me, it was this internal feeling of being pulled this way and that way all at once, like my inner organs and flesh were being tied up in massive uncomfortable knots at the pit of my stomach and in the center of my brain.

It was terrible and the worst part was I couldn’t even accurately describe the feeling. I feel like even now, talking about it, I’m not truly capturing it. So I turned to my art to express it.

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“Backache”

These feelings of unease and distress became so much clearer to me through this new series of work. In my photos, I captured my own body in bizarre poses in the lighting studio back at school, usually tugging at my skin on my back or on my face, creating physical and viewable tension. Then, through photoshop, I layered and collaged these images to create surreal forms and masses that through their bizarre nature of walking the line between believable and unreal added to their discomfort.

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“Flesh”

This new work of mine is a new means of exploring my mental health through my own physical body. In it, I portray what can’t be seen, my state of mind, as if it were just another physical appendage that could use tending to. Too often mental health takes a backseat to physical health. In this series, the two become one.

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“Pulling”

Find all the images from the Tension showcase in the slideshow below. To check out more of Corey’s work find his online gallery here. Be sure to keep up with him on Twitter and Instagram as well.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter,Tumblr, and Instagram

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope
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“My Confession: Depression, Faith & Isolation” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 20

I was never one to thrive off of isolation. “A spry little spurt who’s never met a stranger” is a succinct summary of many an individual’s perception of me as a child. I lived and breathed on the social interaction that I could find. Old people were fun to joke with, adults were cool to talk to, and kids my age were naïve enough to be my friend.

I grew up in a pastor’s home. Social interaction kind of came with the territory but I was perfectly fine with it. I found outlets to express my inner nerd, girls to chase around the church parking lot, and reasons to tag along on youth group events, even though I was only eight.

I played baseball. Well, tried to play baseball. Little league was the thing to do in my town and both my father and I signed up. He coached, I played. A power duo, I suppose you could call it. I wanted nothing more than to make my dad proud. He had played baseball in his high school years and turned out to be pretty good. I thought that if I could only catch the ball better, hit the ball harder, or run the bases faster, he would tell me those five words: I’m proud of you, son.

I developed a propensity, in my younger years, towards the pursuit of perfection. I didn’t want to disappoint those around me, I didn’t want to make my dad upset with me, and I didn’t want to fail at anything I did. Unfortunately, there were times that I disappointed those around me, made my father upset with me, and failed at the things I did. In fact, those occurrences of failure became more consistent the older I got and the harder I tried.

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“God” was the thing to do; believing in Him, that is. I mean, I was a pastor’s kid. I pretty much had to. I also felt the need to be perfect in this area as well. The moment you step through the door’s of God’s church it seemed as if every pair of eyes were on you. Some of them were loving, some of them speculative, and others were simply mean. One slip up in the church world and you created a mess for daddy to clean up. I felt that any mistake on my part would make my dad look bad. Be good. Keep your mouth shut. Smile and wave.

That’s what I did. I believed in God, tried to be good, tried to keep my mouth shut, and I tried to blend in. I was a free spirit when I was with my friends but I never felt like I fit in. The kids around me were all older and weren’t appreciative of my attempts to “be cool”. Skateboarding and long hair were the cool things to do but I couldn’t do either of them. Making jokes that had the entire group rolling on the floor wasn’t my forte. What was I left with? Star Wars action figures and muddled hopes and dreams of being accepted.

Fast forward through my teenage years. Ages 11-16 were pretty much the same story. Go to church, be a pastor’s kid, learn to preach, and try to have friends. In the midst of all of this my family had decided to be missionaries to Australia. Deciding this meant that we had to raise monthly support. We spent two years on the road travelling from church to church with very limited success. I lost a lot of the major contact I had with my closest friends because I was constantly in the back of a mini van. 25 states and two years later my mom and dad felt that the Lord was calling them to instead move to Georgia to be a youth pastor.

I didn’t blame them. I didn’t hate them. At this point moving was normal and home was relative to the place I laid my head down at night. Just another day in the Malin family.

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We moved to Georgia right at the start of my Freshman year of high school. I was roughly 14-15 years old, 6 feet tall, looked like Harry Potter (glasses and all), and about a hundred pounds wet. Why do these things matter? I got picked on mercilessly at my new high school. Verbally abused. It came to a point where my dad even told me he might let me fight these kids. I was ready. I had never been in a fight but I was dying to prove my worth.

I tried my hand at baseball but sat the bench the entire year. I started working out but could barely lift the bar. Kids at church all thought I was obnoxious and tried to avoid me. Pretty lonely life to begin with but now it was setting in: I didn’t measure up.

Want to know what changed people’s perception and ability to accept me? Getting rid of my glasses. Yeah, that’s right. The culture of that town was so shallow that a simple addition of contacts to the daily life opened up a plethora of doors to friendships. At the time I didn’t care. I was finally accepted. People were my friends again!

Then we moved.

This time to Michigan and this time a little more painful than the last. Halfway through my sophomore year I found myself sitting in a new classroom with new opportunities and new fears. Instead of having to fight for my relationships, the relationships fought for me. It was a small town with a small school and I instantly became the hit attraction. New kid on the block meant lots of attention. Yay me!

We spent two years there and I grew immensely. I travelled to South Korea on a mission’s trip where my view of God was radically changed. I started dating girls and learned that my heart could be broken beyond what I already knew. I started playing the guitar, drums, piano, and began to sing. I wanted to excel. I wanted to conquer. I wanted to finish my high school years on top of the world.

Then we moved.

Halfway through my senior year I’m back in the town I was born in and lived in before we moved to Georgia. This time all of my childhood friends were gone. The church wasn’t the same. I had walked into a radically different place. I was pissed. I had six months of my high school career left and here I am going on to school number three.

I was fed up. I was tired of having to be on the receiving end of pain from my parent’s decisions. I didn’t hate them. I didn’t blame them. I simply didn’t like them. My heart was ready to be on my own and to make my own decisions.

I had a grand total of three friends my last six months of high school. I was miserable. I went to a small bible college in the fall and immediately started dating a girl who tore my heart inside out within a month of our being together. It was here that I saw people’s true colors. It was here that my depression began.

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I spent six months at that school and made a lot of bad decisions. I turned my back on God and I turned my back on the people who had hurt me. I hated what I was going through and I couldn’t even process it. I left the school after six months. I came home and started working for a temp agency…Fired after two months.

Fired? I’m a pastor’s kid.

I don’t get fired.

I don’t get fired.

I spiraled down into isolation and hatred. I burned any bridge that stood to be burned. I made the ashes my home. Day after day I slipped deeper into depression and I didn’t even realize it. I justified my anger. I thought that it was a good thing. Meanwhile, my father, the very man I wished to never disappoint, was always at my throat. We couldn’t stand each other. My mom stood in the kitchen bawling one day. She begged me to fix my relationship with my dad. Whatever love I had left in my heart tried but I believed it was too far gone.

I gave up.

Suicide came to mind. I struggled with the apathy towards dying. I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. There was no one to help. Everyone had turned their back on me. The very thing I placed all of my hope in had crushed me. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore, not even God.

I laid in bed one night and entertained the thought of death. I could’ve swore that there was something in my room. A presence…Whatever it was, I can tell you that it wasn’t Jesus.

Matty Feature

Soon enough, the grace of God came flooding into my heart and opened my eyes to the hell that I was living in. Something inside of me awoke and began to scream for help. I can’t tell you how, nor why, nor for what reason. All I know is that my eyes were opened and I was scared. I was scared because I knew who I had become and I knew just how far I had run from God. I had nowhere else to turn but to my dad.

After a hard, long conversation with him I learned that he had been going through the same things. I couldn’t believe that after all of that time thinking that I was alone, there was someone within arm’s reach of me thinking the very same things. Funny how the devil blinds you to the help you need. From that day on, my relationships with all of my family members have been restored and healed.

To make a very long story shorter, fast forward 3 years and I’m learning. Some days I’m learning how to thrive, some days I’m learning how to cope, and other days I’m simply just surviving.
But that’s ok. God has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion with reminders of His immaculate love and forgiveness for me. In fact, not but a month ago I sat on my couch weeping over my losses, my hatred for myself, and then I finally let it all go.

I became a free man.

I learned that it’s one thing to forgive others and it’s another thing to be forgiven by God. Those things are a must in this life. People are going to hurt you. You’re going to hurt people. It’s a fact. There’s no escaping it. You can’t change it. Do their attacks mean that there’s something wrong with you? Not all of the time. If you ever mess up and hurt someone else be quick to ask for forgiveness and be quick to admit that you were wrong. If someone else hurts you then be quick to forgive. It’s a give and take relationship. To be forgiven you must forgive.

I learned something else, though. We spend so much time trying to forgive others that we forget to forgive ourselves. My 23-year pursuit of perfection left me hollow, dry, and hateful. Not just towards other people but mostly towards myself. It wasn’t until God opened my eyes to it that I found complete wholeness inside of Him. The fact that Jesus sacrificed His life for me on behalf of my sin rattled my heart to the core. I finally understood that He loved me and wanted nothing but the best for me.

Do people still hurt me? Yes. Do I still hurt people? Unfortunately. Will any of that change? No. What can and should be said of our lives is of the willingness to forgive. Whether you believe in a God or not doesn’t change the fact that you and I have been forgiven of much. It is in this knowledge that we should be ready and willing to forgive just as deeply and even quicker.

Easier said than done. It’s a process and you have to be willing to let yourself go through it. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come as quickly as you’d like it to. Make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and never give up.

Don’t just cope with your depression. Beat it. Show it who’s boss.

You have value. You are of worth. You are loved.

May God show himself real and faithful to you.

-Matt

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Special thanks to Matt for his incredible entry into our Coping series. Some of the photos included in this post were from his photography project,”Confession Through Photograph”, which we featured here last month. Be sure to check out more of his writing on his blog Confessions.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope
Matty Feature

“Confession Through Photograph” A Powerful Series on Depression, Death & Spirituality

“Confessions Through Photograph” is a powerful photography series that details Matthew Malin’s mental health journey through depression, death, and spirituality. Below you’ll read what Malin has to say about the project, along with the photos that will allow you step foot on the path he has walked on this journey of self acceptance.

I was born and raised in a Pastor’s home. Forced to wear a mask from the day I breathed my first breath, I felt like I didn’t have a choice in who I could become. As I grew up and embraced this mask of righteousness, I came upon my first heartbreak. The shattered glass represents my coming to grips with the reality that life, that myself, is broken. This brokenness pushed me into depression and isolation. In the Fall of 2012 I found myself battling demons and almost succumbing to the thoughts of death. I thought death to be a better option than life.

By God’s grace He brought me back to life and face to face with this mask, my inner demons. I had a choice: Would I conform again or fight the devil inside? I’ve spent the last few years running, falling, screaming, and crying for salvation. Ultimately I’m coming face to face with my mask on a daily basis and having to choose to kill it. In these pictures I tear the mask and accept the victory that came through Jesus’ blood.

This entire project serves as a symbolic notion towards the emotional turmoil my heart has endured but the freedom that Jesus can bring to a broken life.

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Many thanks to Matthew Malin for his amazing project. Find more of his photos and writing on his blog “Confessions. Always remember you are not alone. You are loved. 

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope