A is for anxiety, which itself comes in many shapes and colors.
B is for bipolar disorder, a term still ignorantly used to describe mood swings or temper tantrums.
C is for Cotard delusion, a term for a condition that leads an individual to believe he or she is already dead or does not exist.
These are the ABCs of mental illness, thoughtfully compiled and illustrated by India-based writer, illustrator and graphic designer Sonaksha Iyengar.
Iyengar began the series as part of 36 Days of Type, a project challenging designers and illustrators to create their own takes on the letters and numbers of the alphabet, all of which respond to a singular theme. Iyengar, who has struggled with her mental health in the past, decided to focus her alphabet-based works around the still-stigmatized subject.
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Every day, the artist uploads a new image to Instagram focused on a specific condition and its first letter. The images, depicting states ranging from jealousy to insomnia, reveal how mental health struggles touch all lives, and are not always tethered to a diagnosed condition.
Iyengar has taken some liberties with the disorders and behaviors she’s chosen to illustrate ― for example, Cotard delusion, or Cotard’s syndrome, is not recognized in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V and only extreme jealousy might be considered a mental illness ― but the underlying message remains steady: She aims to spotlight illnesses and symptoms that are often overlooked or under-recognized. Iyengar hopes her imagery, rendered in dreamy pastels seemingly plucked straight from the subconscious, encourage open and generous discussions on the subject matter.
“‘Get over it’ is not how it works,” the artist told BuzzFeed, “and I think being more aware and acknowledging mental health will help us make a start in the direction towards kindness and empathy.”
“It is time to have honest conversations with each other about the importance of mental health,” she concluded.
Immerse yourself in the conversation with Iyengar’s works below, and follow her on Instagram for more.