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Photographer depicts facets of bipolar disorder through a series of conceptual images

Photographer depicts facets of bipolar disorder through a series of conceptual images.

My name is Darle Turla. I’m a 33-year old Filipina trapped in the body of a frustrated visual artist. I can’t paint or draw or sculpt, and so, I shoot. Photography and arts in general have always been an interest for me, but it wasn’t until my life had been vigorously rocked and derailed by endless major depressive episodes that creative expression began to be a roaring need.

You see, I’ve been struggling with a mental abnormality practically all my life.  The signs started when I was much younger, but it was on my 17th year that I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Subsequent doctors would later update my diagnosis to bipolar disorder, when the other half of the two mood poles– fits of mania or hypomania– started to rear its ugly head, alternating with periods of depression.
I’ve done the rounds of four psychiatric wards throughout my teenage and adult years and tried many different ways (including alternative paths) to cope with my condition. To this day, I continue to be on medication and regular therapy but it is no secret that this combination doesn’t guarantee remission. One thing I’ve learned in this possibly life-long battle is to hold a firm respect for unhampered freedom to express human emotion. Digital photography has been my creative outlet for that. I’ve found that the whole process of shooting, transforming and creating is therapeutic and liberating for me. At times, a temporary escape from an existential depression that goes beyond circumstantial and genetic.

Photographer depicts facets of bipolar disorder through a series of conceptual images

Into the first Gate”  My style of photography, I would like to believe, gravitates towards the surreal and emotive. I hold a deep-rooted fascination with dreams and I would happily oblige when my dreams insist on making special appearances in my images.


I’m sharing this series of conceptual photos to portray the different facets of bipolar disorder, in hopes that this personal project would contribute to raising further awareness about mental health issues, and inspire fellow strugglers to madly explore outlets, be it visual arts, writing, sports– anything through which they can channel their emotions in a healing way. For without any form of release, mental disorders would be so much less manageable.


 “Some wounds Time can’t heal”   Bipolar depression can feel like being trapped in a door-less chamber of unending pain and suicidal ideations that even the passage of time can’t heal.

“Anhedonia”  Sometimes depression means being paralyzed by anhedonia– the utter loss of capacity to experience any pleasure, including the cathartic pleasure of creating images like this. This deep sense of emptiness has its treacherous ways. It makes the sufferer attempt to unempty the zombified mind by filling it with anything–any-fucking-thing that the mind can absorb, even if it means meaningless junk.


“The Fall”  I originally produced this image to  portray my long-standing love affair with dreams, and the fall that breaks the dreaming, jolting you back to reality. Alternatively, this also depicts the mania/hypomania side of bipolar disorder. It can send you to a trippy high, and oftentimes, this is when bursts of creativity take hold, crazy adventures happen, effervescent I-love-you texts are sent to parents, and I have to admit it’s the fun part. Except that it’s also in this state of reckless and impulsive behavior that bad decisions and rash commitments are made, and that sucks big time. Then comes the violent crash that almost always follows the euphoria, like the hypnic jerk that cuts a vibrant dream.

“Ang Zahyi Tee”  By your darkness I am swallowed, pale and frozen.

“Perspective”  Don’t call the world dirty because you forgot to clean your glasses. -Aaron Hill

“Onion-skinned”  Not only does it deplete you of energy, depression can also turn you into a very scared and fragile creature, and you do all you can to identify and avoid your triggers, because one tiny prick could lead to emotional hemophilia and you grow more and more frustrated with yourself because who wants to be onion-skinned?

“Today I just want to be struck with lightning”  Sometimes depression means being stuck with a mind that is  oppressively numb and a body that is in a state of unbelievably severe ennui.

“Hibernate”  Depression strips you of all vigor and willpower and sends you into a depressive hibernation. This is a tendency far beyond my control that has cost me a number of friends, wasted time and lost opportunities. But sometimes, hibernation is the only way. It might seem like it’ll take forever for your soul to recuperate, but trust me, you’ll realize that one day, you’re fed up and exhausted of all the sleeping and despairing, and you stop giving a fuck about how far behind you are in life (“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe”- Albert Camus)

 then you just find yourself capable of taking a bath again, and you slowly work up the strength to pick up that dusty camera and start a personal project like this– to push you to get out of bed the next day.

“All my fucks have gone”

behance: https://www.behance.net/gallery/52608765/Conceptual-Photography

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fourthornedrose/

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