Too Tired for Sunshine: Capturing Depression Through Art

Photographer Tara Wray spoke to NPR in a recent interview about her book of photos titled Too Tired for Sunshine, which captures Wray’s struggle with depression. The photographs—some bleak, others innocuous—show a world in which everyday scenes mirror life with mental illness. In one, the shadow of a gnarled tree is cast against the side of a darkened house. In another, a dog gazes at the camera through a blurred, rainy car window.

Tara Wray

As a private person, Wray says that she wrestled with the idea of a publishing a photo book about her mental illness and publicly revealing her struggles: "These are things you wouldn't necessarily talk about with the other parents at pickup at school, but here I am putting everything out there, I'm using my own sort of shame and fear of sharing this with others to encourage others, to say, 'It's OK to do it.' ... There's nothing to be ashamed about."

By showing people how she saw the world through the lens of her depression, Wray encouraged others to do the same. She started the Too Tired Project, which serves as a place for other photographers to express their depression through creative outlets.

Speaking out about life with mental illness is critical to diminishing the stigma associated with conditions such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, explore these resources below:

This is My Brave: Through original storytelling, song, or poetry, This is My Brave speakers all over the United States and beyond share their mental health experiences, hardships, and recoveries on a stage in front of a live audience. Members from Greenbrook TMS have attended two This is My Brave events and have found them to be deeply impactful.

The Mighty: Focusing on mental health, disability, and disease, The Mighty publishes both first-person essays that offer support and advice and articles that discuss current events and treatments. With over 600 health topics listed, this community-based resource draws on knowledge and insight from those with conditions and their loved ones.

You Are Not Alone: Created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), You are Not Alone is a anonymous place to share reflections, poems, stories, or thoughts on mental health. Most posts are prose, although photographs, videos, and artwork are also encouraged.

The Perspective Project: UK-based The Perspective Project features artwork, poetry, and prose. Project founder Mark Anscombe says it is his “hope that our project both provides this therapeutic outlet for our artists and poets, whilst combating stigma that arises from public misunderstanding and an inability to truly empathise with those suffering from mental health issues.”

Although many people may find it difficult when first sharing their own personal story, often they are surprised that in sharing, it actually diminishes their own shame and can feel quite freeing. By contributing your experience, you can encourage others to find their own voice and ask for help.