The embroidery (by Rebecca Bruton Textiles) is a reflection of interviewees and myself (Sarah Hollebon) who have personal experiences with depression. The two snakes suffocate and swallow themselves into the human figures, dragging them down and controlling them, which is constantly mirroring this disorder.
The human figures hold similarities of one another, however not identical. This shows us no two depression cases are the same, one of many misconceptions around mental health. The snakes suffocating the human figures convey chilling issues of suicide; the cross, emblems, and empty sunset in the distance, depict the realistic links of mental health and suicide, it’s real, it’s happening, and we need to act on it NOW.
The razor sharp sleeve points depict the taboo, that ‘ALL schizophrenics are a danger and a harm to ALL people around them’. Although people who suffer from schizophrenia can POTENTIALLY be violent or aggressive to someone, it is far more common they are a danger to themselves. They would rather harm themselves over harming someone around them. It is difficult to avoid giving in to the voices they endure every day. The asymmetric cut on the jacket resembles the roller coaster ride of mixed emotions, voices, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts someone with schizophrenia fights with daily.
Recovery is about the journey not about a specific end. Whilst exploring recovery, I chose layers of white on white to symbolise someone who has gone through a war, a war with their mind, as opposed to white conveying ‘angel’ or ‘pure’. They have scars physically, mentally, and emotionally. The white subtle textures, from the beading to the handmade flowers, channel the notion that some mental disorder cases will never be ‘cured’. Some days the disorder will resurface. However, with tools and coping strategies learnt in recovery, the disorder can be kept to a minimal.
From Sarah’s own experiences with PTSD and through her recovery, the therapy for Sarah consisted of confronting the distressing memory and the attached emotions. As Sarah’s memory was fragmented of the incident, she had to relive the trauma (in a safe environment) by giving a running commentary to her therapist in temporal order. Each time this was happening, she was confronting the emotions that were attached to this incident, thereby, gaining control of the fear and the distressing memory. As Sarah was reliving the trauma many times, she began to have a clear understanding of exactly what had happened thus piecing the fragmented parts of her memory, which is conveyed through the missing panel in the jacket and in the trousers.
Gradually this then diminished the shame, the guilt, and the many other emotions attached. Whilst in recovery, Sarah managed to develop acceptance over what happened and to not let it define who she was, nor define who she is today.
The hem and the front of the jacket has varied pleats. These pleats represent the many alters/hosts of dissociative identity disorder. A common misconception with DID is that their many personalities are harmful to society, something that is conveyed inaccurately through the media and through film especially. The alters within the body are by far harmful or aggressive, in fact they are the complete opposite, protecting the ‘host’ from remembering the multiple traumatic experiences they endured from an early childhood. The featured pleat at the front of the jacket, wraps around the neckline into a collar, showing us the pure actions the ‘alters’ have to protect the ‘host’. The complex pattern cutting of the combined pleated lapel to collar balances with the complexity of dissociative identity disorder.
Asymmetry is stark to the eye to convey the shear difference of how someone with anorexia sees themselves (left), the constant feeling of being overweight, and how we as an outsider see them (right) practically skin and bones. This mental health disorder has the highest mortality rate. The red fabric represents the seriousness of this disorder. The uneven tucks and pleats depict the veins, the bones, and the rib cage being turned inside out.
The aim of this outfit is to reflect on someone with obsessive compulsive disorder. When he or she has obsessions (eg fear of contamination, fear of committing a sin) that seep into their mind, it becomes impossible to mitigate the anxiety from their compulsion when wearing this outfit. He or she is covered from head to toe, trying to repress the obsession, fully protected but also fully restricted. The anxiety builds up to an unbearable amount, with no escape from the repeated intrusive thoughts. Now imagine going through this, 20 times a day.
The jagged protruding pleat on the shoulder is twofold: decoration and a place to hide from anxious situations. The asymmetry conveys the juxtaposition where you think you’re able to safely hide away and become relaxed, but it will never be enough, only merely suppressing the anxiety. In the long term, it will never fill the anxiety’s strained demands.