Arts

Instagramming a mentally ill mom

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Scream, 2013

Scream, 2013

Credit:

Courtesy of Melissa Spitz

Photographer Melissa Spitz struggled for years with her mentally ill, substance-abusing mother — only finding solace by escaping to college.

But it was a photography class assignment her junior year — photograph something “private” — that allowed her to focus on her mentally ill mother, instead of running from her.

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First Shoot with Mom, 2009

First Shoot with Mom, 2009

Credit:

Courtesy of Melissa Spitz

“One thing that really started it is that I remember watching ‘Intervention’ and ‘Hoarders’ and these television shows. … And when the private project came I just remember being like, if ‘Intervention’ is this hit show, this looks like a cakewalk compared to what’s going on upstairs in my house right now.”

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”I fell down and broke my jaw,” 2012

”I fell down and broke my jaw,” 2012

Credit:

Courtesy of Melissa Spitz

The class assignment in 2009 started Spitz on a personal and professional journey that would become her MFA thesis and, in 2014, an Instagram account that has since gained more than 50,000 followers and caused TIME magazine to name her Instagram Photographer of the Year. 

“Social media allows us so much to create and manipulate how we’re perceived, so it is in a way throwing the middle finger to that type of life because it’s not. Social media is so fake and that’s why I’ve always been — I’m going to be brutally honest,” she explains.

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Mom’s Vacation, 2012

Mom’s Vacation, 2012

Credit:

Courtesy of Melissa Spitz

For more photos from Melissa Spitz’s series, “You Have Nothing To Worry About,” including the image “Mom’s Appendectomy, 2013,” check out her website, or follow her on Instagram.

In Arts, Culture & MediaArtsCultureMedia.

Tagged: Melissa SpitzartsPhotographyInstagrammental illnesssocial media.