2010 - 2018
These photographs are part of a personal project about my mum, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was five years old. I started photographing my mum in 2010, in an attempt to understand more about her and her illness, and intrigued by the otherness in her mental health state. A few years ago, my mum's physical health started to deteriorate, which meant she gradually became more physically disabled. Due to the nature of her mental illness she refused to accept the appropriate medical investigation, until she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in May 2018. These photographs are portraying my mum's increasing struggle with physical illness and disability, on top of the mental illness that had been a lifelong struggle for her. Since learning that my mum was terminally ill, photographing her became even more important to me. Besides having memories of her and her life for my personal future records, it got me closer to her and her narrative of reality, which increased my understanding and respect for her struggle. Part of her sadness in life was the feeling of not being understood by the rest of the world, which I can imagine must be similar for many people who suffer from a personality disorder. With paranoid schizophrenia in particular, the logics of social interactions often aren't the same as for other people, which can make communication with others challenging. As a consequence, my mum didn’t trust the medical staff enough to take any of the medication or pain killers that was prescribed to her, or even the diagnosis she was given. This caused her a lot of suffering the last few months of her life, which was difficult for me to accept. Through modern pharmacology we can chose to opt out of feeling physical pain, from the day we are born until the day we die. Due to the nature of her illness and lack of trust in the healthcare system my mum chose to stay in the pain. In the end I think it prolonged her life as an awake and aware person. My mum passed away on the third of November 2018.