When Dutch photographer and student Laura Hospes was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, she processed the experience one of the only ways she knew how — through her lens.
Now her photo series, “UCP-UMCG,” named after the psychiatric hospital in the Netherlands where she stayed, documents the 21-year-old’s journey to recovery through a series of self-portraits. After a suicide attempt, she began treatment for depression and an eating disorder, according to the Daily Mail.
During her stay, Hospes told The Mighty in an email, she was allowed to have one item in her room.
“I had no difficulties having my camera with me, only when I had to stay in an isolation room I couldn’t photograph anymore. But after a couple of days the rules were less strictly and I was able to have one item in my room. I changed from camera to laptop to phone etc.” she told The Mighty.
Feeling overwhelmed and confused when she first entered the hospital, Hospes used photography as a way to rediscover herself.
“I couldn’t make contact with my own emotions and I felt like I was floating somewhere in the air with heavy stones tied on my whole body,” she told The Mighty. “After a month I slowly found myself back and the emotions screamed in my head. I was extremely sad or extremely angry. I felt so desolated in hospital, even if there were friend or family around me.”
The photo series won the photographer a spot on LensCulture’s list of 50 best emerging photographers for 2015 in the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards.
“At first, I made this complete series for myself, to deal with the difficulties and express my feelings,” Hospes told The Mighty. “After that, I want to inspire people who are or have been in a psychiatric hospital. I want them to see my pictures and recognize themselves in it. I hope they feel taken seriously, less crazy and less alone.”
See her power self-portraits below:
To see more of Laura’s work, visit her website.
Clarification: Information has been added to this piece about the location of the hospital and the nature of her stay.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.