Julia Hadji-Stylianou – Non Compos Mentis

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Julia Hadji-Stylianou – My Mind’s Madness

Your mind is your sanctuary; your deepest thoughts and emotions; your most cherished memories; your knowledge of the world. But what if your mind becomes a prison? Thoughts and feelings that hold you captive – punish you – devour you whole – leaving you feeling empty and numb? What if your mind turns against you, and is your own worst enemy?

My mind often spirals, leaving me feeling completely helpless and overwhelmed. Anxiety and depression is something that has haunted me for years, but has always been something I find extremely difficult and nerve-wracking to talk about.

I began exploring my relationship with my own mind several years ago. My inability to talk about how I was feeling led me to focus on how I could express my state of mind visually through my artwork. I began taking self-portraits to portray how my depression and anxiety affected me. These self-portraits became a series of work that I called “Non Compos Mentis”, meaning “Not of Sound Mind” in Latin.

I have always been one to express myself through my art, be it painting or photography, rather than speech.

Being able to express my internal state through my work has helped me to define what depression and anxiety is to me, but also to my family, friends and peers, who have not always understood what it is that I am feeling.

But I suppose it has also helped me to understand that what I am feeling and thinking is a result of said depression and anxiety rather than assuming it is just my personality and who I will always be. How I felt for a long time was something I thought I would be doomed to feel forever – an emptiness that nothing could fill.

Though it is an on-going battle, it has helped me realise when I feel a relapse of depression coming on. Through counselling, CBT and my artwork, it has helped me notice specific thought patterns that often reoccur when I start feeling low.

That said though, I often find myself drawn to sadness. I usually feel stumped for inspiration for my artwork if there isn’t a source of sadness to draw from. The psyche is a fascinating thing. So many famous artists, writers and poets alike have turned to their work in dark times.

You could say it asks the question – does mental illness drive people to art, or does art drive people to mental illness?

Find Julia here: behance.net/jhadjistylianou

#17 – The Mind – Contributors