Think about a mental hospital and what pictures come to mind? It mary vary depending on who you are, but Laura Hospes, a photographer from the Netherlands, wanted to show you herself life living in UCP-UMCG. The project, given the same name as the mental hospital, is where Hospes spent time hospitalized for depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder after her suicide attempt.
“I was 20, studying photography and, as they say, living life the fullest. But that was not the real me. That real me was planning to put an end to my life, to stop that war in my head. I suffered from an eating disorder, a couple of years ago. After an intensive therapy I was cured and able to study again. A year later I had to accept that my mental health was still horribly bad and I searched another psychologist. With this psychologist, who thought I was suffering from my eating disorder again, I survived in this circumstances for about a year. Then, on a Wednesday morning, I said goodbye to my cat and fell asleep for good, I wished.
But I awaked in hospital, and admitted to the psychiatric section after one day of physical recovering. The first day I made a portrait of myself, as I did before the hospitalization whenever I felt lonely, miserable or angry. I felt a short relief after that. My camera was left behind in my apartment, so I used my phone. My boyfriend brought my camera the day after and I started portraying myself in this horrible situation. Every time I had a self-portrait session, I felt that short relief and calmness in my head. It helped me dealing with all the emotions that were overwhelming me. I honestly felt like I was going to explode if I couldn’t express myself, so my camera saved me that way.
I hope my UCP-UMCG project (the name of the psychiatric department) will hit many people, especially people who need to see they’re not alone. But I also want people who have no idea what’s behind the closed door of a psychiatric hospital department, to see the pain and fear that will overwhelm any patient. That people in psychiatric hospitals are not crazy, but feel like going crazy. And that is the worst feeling I ever had.”
Now, Hospes has turned the camera from other subjects onto herself. “Nowadays she makes self portraits to connect with the world around her, to make clear what she feels deep on the inside. Her camera is her consolation. He listens better to her than everyone else do or even can. Photography is her medium to accept and process hard events in her life by showing her struggles behind her great wall,” the artist wrote in her biography.