Sciamachy: (n) a battle against imaginary enemies; fighting your shadows
Sciamachy is a personal illustration series that focuses on the experiences, behaviors, and emotions shared by persons living with anxiety disorders. About 1 in 13 people globally suffer from a crippling anxiety disorder. I am included in that group. The stigma surrounding anxiety disorders often leads people to believe anxiety is simply just a state of worrying with a tangible cause. They conclude that if you fix the problem, anxiety will be solved. I want to illustrate a picture, play a sound, and evoke a feeling to let people know that it is not that simple.
Anxiety is complex. Everyone experiences it a little differently. Some can feel nervousness, restlessness, or tension. Others a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom. Your heart rate rises, you can’t catch your breath, sweat runs down the middle of your back, nothing is in focus. A fight or flight experience. But where is the enemy? Sometimes you can see it, but most times it’s nowhere to be seen. Just a feeling. A sense that all is not well. A heaviness. Mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical exhaustion. One moment you have a happy, empowering song playing in the background of your life and slowly, or maybe all at once with a jolt, the music changes into something dark and suffocating. When these sensations come about, they are usually at unpredictable moments. This makes it difficult to fully describe the affliction of anxiety, which is why I have turned to visual language.
Not only have I turned to visual language, but also music. Music is the healing salve that helps me cope with anxiety. Artists like Jhene Aiko (whose music I have incorporated in my series) have accompanied me in my journey with anxiety and has been something I’ve turned to in hard times. Her lyrics give words to the emotions running through me.
My goal of this series is to spread awareness of the mental complexity of anxiety and to create a visual representation of what many of us cannot put into words. My hope is that with more understanding, more empathy and support can be given to those who are suffering. Especially to those out there suffering in silence.