“The Therapist” 

The most valuable thing I've learned (so far) on my journey is that I'm never going to "fix" myself because there isn't anything wrong with me. With bipolar II disorder, I have high highs and super low lows. But, thanks to an endlessly patient support system (including more than a few bipolar friends), I've realized that an extreme spectrum of emotions is a beautiful part of who I am. I used to constantly berate myself for being erratic or feeling too much. I opened up and sought love, meditation, self-analysis, medication, therapy, and a whole whack of self-help books -- and I'm unlearning those harmful ways of thinking and reacting. Now, I find solace in not knowing which version of me I'm going to get; in taking things one day at a time; in being present. I hope an open discourse inspires others to get the support and tools they need to manage their own (and others') mental health. It's tough enough to cope with a mental illness; it's even tougher to do it alone.

Featuring Bianca Venerayan, beauty by Claudine Baltazar. This is the first set of images in an ongoing project photographing people, and sharing their experiences with mental "illness" - shedding light on both struggles and triumphs, in hopes that we can continue to break the stigma and create discourse and awareness surrounding the spectrum of mental health.