Liz Obert’s The Secret Lives of People Living with Depression

The Secret Lives of People Living with Depression

The secret lives of people living with mental illness Photo courtesy Liz Obert

The secret lives of people living with mental illness
Photo courtesy Liz Obert

I recently read Katherine Brooks’ op-ed on the Huffington Post “Exploring the Double Lives of Everyday People Living With Mental Illness” by the photographer who chose to open the curtains and expose the dual world people who struggle with mental illness live in.

I struggle with depression and have the meds to help me get through life with a smile, but there are days when darkness covers my life.  I am normally a happy, vivacious person; I’ve learned to find joy despite child abuse.  However, there are days I wake up and don’t care about anything that is important to me — my beloved husband, my sweet dogs, my writing or artwork, my garden —- nothing.  I have what most of the world would consider incredible success —- I have a 20 year marriage, own a home, have my own business, control my time.  Yet on those days I tell myself I am a loser and hate my life.

Photo Courtesy of Liz Obert

Photo Courtesy of Liz Obert

When I try to explain this to others they just can’t grasp it.  How could such a positive person have days of self-loathing and sadness? Well, it happens, it’s true, and depression is an illness, not a moral failing.

So I was thrilled to learn that Liz Obert is courageously illustrating through her photography the darkness that hides within your friends, children, parents, colleagues and loved ones.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

Liz Obert has been an artist since she was a child. She worked with painting, mixed media and installation work until a photography class transformed her artwork.

I asked her why she decided to do a photo series on the duality of depression, and she said “I wanted to do something personal with my photography and I’ve always lived this double life of holding a job and then going home and dealing with the depression.  Then the idea came to me to photograph both sides of my personality” She told me that she is inspired by the world around her, whether it is by objects or personal issues.

Liz Obert’s work can be seen in Portland in June at the Olympic Mills Commerce Center and in McMinnville, Oregon  in September at the Linfield College. Her work “The Secret Dual Lives of People Living With Mental Illness” recently won the top spot in the Top 10 most popular Photography Posts of 2014 in Slate Magazine

I am glad to see that more people are “coming out” and acknowledging they suffer from depression. For too long it has been looked at as a personal failure, an inability to suck it up and be happy, a self-indulgent habit of weak-minded people.  Depression is anything but that.  People who struggle with depression yet get out of bed on the good days, suit up and face the world and contribute to is, truly are spiritual warriors.  They struggle with an incomprehensible inner pain that provides no warning before it arrives, and they get through the dark days anyway.  In many ways, people who struggle with depression and then work in the world are probably some of the most optimistic people you will ever meet.

I’m glad I had a chance to connect with Liz Obert, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.  You can find Liz at

Now it’s Your Turn!  Go to Liz’ site, and tell us which photographic montage speaks to you the most, and why.