I mistake birds and squirrels for footsteps. (20th October 2015)
Credit: Jocelyn Allen

A lot of creativity comes from pain. Take for instance the love songs we sing in our car at the top of our lungs, the viral videos of modern dance numbers that give us chills, and the photography series that makes us tear up. In fact, art therapy’s a stellar tool for many to work through their anxiety and depression.

There is an inherent power in photography to help others heal after traumatic events and we seriously admire female photographers who can find refuge in art. Jocelyn Allen has loved photography since she was seven years old and has found a way to use it as a therapeutic activity. Her series “Neblina” features photographs of herself with hand-drawn patterns outlining her figure and the surrounding space.

Credit: Jocelyn Allen

Allen struggled with issues of self-esteem but slowly felt herself gaining more confidence. She then turned her attention to her anxiety, something that she hadn’t faced head-on before. Photography became a way to do that.

“Since moving to London in late 2010 I had mainly been making work in my bedroom and I really didn’t like the idea of photographing myself outside,” Allen wrote in an email to HelloGiggles. “Eventually I knew I had to do it, as with my work I like to push myself out of my comfort zone. The project previously (Amalgamated Anomalies) was me trying desperately to make images that I hadn’t made before in order to allow myself the excuse to not photograph myself outside, but it came to an end when I made myself start ‘Neblina.'”

Credit: Jocelyn Allen

The process of taking the photos meant facing her anxiety. She started with setting up the camera inside the windows of her house while she stood outside. Soon, she challenged herself to take photos of herself in a public park, usually during the least busy hours of the morning.

Allen often doodles when she finds herself in uncomfortable situations. The photographs represent another way that she processed her anxiety. She brought the two together by digitally drawing on top of the photographs to create intricately detailed images. The marks seem to crowd in on her, mirroring the anxiety of being in a public space under the scrutiny of strangers’ eyes.

Credit: Jocelyn Allen

She revealed, “Doodling relaxes me a lot, because I get very stressed-out if I feel like I am not producing work so it meant I was being productive whilst also being able to watch television and have a bit of a break in a way.”

The photos visually offer a new way to look at anxiety and Allen hopes that anyone dealing with similar issues can relate to her meaningful works of art.

Credit: Jocelyn Allen

“For most of my life, I have felt very alone in certain ways when it comes to how I feel about myself, life, and the world, but as I have grown older, I realize that all the very confident-appearing people I used to admire have insecurities, too,” wrote Allen. “Some people are just better at faking things than others.”

Allen stresses that anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues are more common than they seem. Her images are a reminder that we never know what might be going on in the mind of another person — but that those thoughts might be more similar to ours than we think.

Credit: Jocelyn Allen