‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum
This post is from Daniel Regan, a photographer who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition late last year.
I began feeling that something wasn’t quite right in my early teens. Looking back on it now I remember thinking that my thoughts seemed jumbled, tangled and different from my peers. My emotional experiences were felt so deeply; my responses were not the same as those around me at that age. As I got further into my teens, I withdrew into myself and began to self-harm. I could never quite figure out how to make sense of the chaos in my mind, but then I discovered photography, which helped me begin to express the brief moments of clarity.
By the time I was in my late teens I was relying heavily on photography to manage my emotions and engage in the world around me. It became both a way of cautiously expressing my difficulties whilst also being a physical barrier between me and those around me. Realising the impact photography was having on my life, and coping strategies, I decided to pursue a photography degree. During those years I struggled immensely.