In 2002, I began documenting the life of my sister, Christy, now 43, who was diagnosed with
encephalopathy (brain disorder) at age 24. I had been looking at the photographs of Jim Goldberg in Rich and Poor
in which he allowed his subjects to write their thoughts on the images of themselves. I decided
this would be a way in which Christy and I could tell her story together. I placed an image in front of her,
and without direction, she wrote, "Sometimes I feel lost and lonely." I realized these were thoughts she
never shared, and doing this was also a way to understand her.
Christy's condition is incurable, complex, and causes seizures and symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, including hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. While she is unaffected physically, the disease has stunted her mental growth since birth.
This portrait series is about how this illness shapes Christy’s narrative: forcing a dependency on medications to suppress the urge to bring forth an imagined self, and learning to embrace and accept an unpredictable thought process.
Christy’s handwritten commentary is a layer unique to her story and a way to share her truth.