Seeking stories from people all around the world who are living with depression and anxiety
BY JORDAN LAHAYE
APRIL 24, 2019
Depression, anxiety, and mental health in general have steadily risen in the public consciousness—in fact, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month—but when it comes to the complexities of individual experiences, language can, at times, fall short. In hopes of giving people an alternative stage to tell their stories, Baton Rouge’s Chelsea Borruano is launching a new mental health awareness initiative called The YouAren’tAlone Project.
The idea presented itself to Borruano while she sat in the audience at the Manship Theatre this past March. Baton Rouge’s contemporary dance company, Of Moving Colors, was performing its latest production, Tell Me More, which spotlighted the personal stories of local community leaders and activists.
Borruano said the performance moved her and brought to mind her own experience in storytelling, how various opportunities to express herself and her own experiences—particularly with depression and anxiety—had helped her to work through them and to grow. Art as self-expression is a potent tool, she realized, for rooting out specific, complicated feelings—stories perhaps better communicated through movement, color, and sound.
In collaboration with twenty local artists, Borruano and her team are soliciting stories from people all around the world who are living with depression and anxiety. Together, the artists will create a series of performing and visual artworks to be presented at The YouAren’tAlone Live Art Event, which will be held on July 26 at Mid City Ballroom.
“We want to bring to life what these experiences look like, to give people a platform to tell their stories and to also raise awareness about mental health issues for people who don’t understand, but want to,” said Borruano. “A lot of the artists are using this as a way to deal with their own issues as well. It’s super collaborative and all encompassing.”
The project won’t end with the art, though. Borruano said that she wants to use this project to develop a network of support for survivors, those struggling, and supporters.
“I think mental health is something on a lot of people’s minds, and that a lot of people believe needs to be talked about, but the platform just hasn’t been presented just yet,” said Borruano. “With the rising art community we’ve seen in Baton Rouge, it felt right to marry the two.”
Until May 19, stories for The YouAren’tAlone Project can be submitted at youarenotaloneart.com/tell-my-story, and artists (including visual artists, musicians, songwriters, performers, photographers, dancers, writers, and more) can still sign up to participate by emailing Borruano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the project and the upcoming event at youarenotaloneart.com.