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Images & Voices of Hope | December 2, 2020

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Photography project raises meaningful awareness about mental illness

Photography project raises meaningful awareness about mental illness

A photo that’s part of Keedy’s series. (Used with permission.)


John William Keedy, 29, used to be embarrassed by his anxiety disorder and felt as though he couldn’t tell anyone about it.

Over time, he learned to find comfort in photography. Years after he was diagnosed with his disorder, Keedy created a series of photos that illustrate his anxiety. Some are humorous. Others are enigmatic and symbolic of deep struggles he has faced.

Keedy titled the series “It’s Hardly Noticeable” to reflect the reality that dealing with a mental illness is often a silent struggle. He created the series to express himself, but also to let others who are struggling with anxiety know that they’re not alone.

In a recent NPR interview, Keedy explained the story behind some of the images:


It took seven or eight years after I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder before I started making these images. And to be completely honest, this started as a way for me to indulge my own anxieties and my own compulsions, but still stay productive in a way.

A lot of the images portray these repeated actions, and I actually performed the actions. So there’s the image with the floss in the sink. I flossed with 300 of these flossers. Thinking about it still makes my gums hurt.

But to be honest, for the most part it wasn’t completely unpleasant. There’s some comfort in the repetition for me. So the project sort of allowed me to indulge in this sort of thinking for a set period of time, and when I was done with a photo, it was fine to get it back under control.

The floss one hurt a lot, though.


You can read the full NPR interview and see Keedy’s photos here.