Love, Rebekah

CompanyMaximiliano Braun
PhotographerMaximiliano Braun
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Rebekah faces daily struggles to overcome her mental illness and be part of general society. A series of events that happened during the time I worked with her meant that she lost a solid routine and became very fragile emotionally for the better part of two years. Her social environment appears to always be in flux and her own wellbeing is mostly undermined by impulsive behavour, low self-esteem and what appears to be a distinct difficulty in measuring the consequences of her own actions.

Story

“Love, Rebekah” documents the daily struggles and emotional challenges faced by Rebekah who is affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. A complex mental health condition, its symptoms include low self-esteem, potential of self-harm, depression, anxiety and difficulty in maintaining any form of relationship among others. Rebekah, like others who suffer from BPD, faces daily challenges to become and remain an active member of general society. I first met Rebekah in April 2015. At the time, she seemed to be in control of her own self and had a solid routine. However, this routine was broken by a string of depressive events that, in time, deteriorated her control over her emotional wellbeing. Like many people with mental health problems, she is more likely to be a danger to herself. She recalls at least five different attempts to take her own life. Scars in her arms show a previous history of self-harm. Faith and therapies provide her with some relief and coping mechanisms. She is still trying to be re-instated as a full member of the Jehovah Witnesses and access to healthcare services has been patchy for her. All in all, Rebekah is on her own most of the time. She once said she needed no partners to give her comfort, but some of her actions appear to contradict that statement. She expressed her dream of having her whole family together once more but two of her three children are already adults and her youngest, her daughter, is currently in foster care. I have seen Rebekah go from a state of relative stability into states of deep depression and intense mania. Rebekah’s environment appears to never stabilise. In the time I have worked with her, some things appear to be improving. As she gained closure and more confidence in herself and her decisions in Brighton, and as her flashbacks diminished, there are positive things to look forwards to in her wellbeing. However, one of the biggest challenges is not necessarily up to her. I’d like to think that in time, some of the social stigma that can hold her progress back will also diminish. So far, she has survived the damage done to her mind and the events that they created. To know and understand someone like Rebekah can help us all give people like her a bit of leniency when it comes to our perception on how they should be to be part of all of us.

About Photographer

I am a documentary photographer and multimedia maker currently based in Berlin and my focus lies with the social and familial costs of medical conditions. My first major project was on families of people with acquired brain injuries in 3 different countries, "Stay With Me" (2008 - 2010) Later, I was invited to work for a project on the quality of life of people with Multiple Scleroris in 12 countries of the EU, "Under Pressure" (2011-2012) , in a team of five photographers. Now, I am finishing "Love, Rebekah" (2015- ) which looks at the life of Rebekah Khan, diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. My interest in the medical field is inspired by my upbringing with an elderly father which, in a way, was my first documentary project, "Dad" (2005 - 2011)