Personal stories of reclaiming life from mental ill health

About Mindshackles

My name is Iesha Small and I am a documentary photographer based in the South East of England. I have an interest in mental health because of my personal background. I have family members touched by a variety of mental health issues and myself have had depressive episodes on and off since my late teens.  I used to be ashamed of these things and kept them hidden. However, as I have become older and more comfortable with myself and have begun talking to friends, family and colleagues, I have realised that mental illness touches many people personally or via those close to them.  In early 2013, I decided that I wanted to tell the stories of ordinary people who have experienced depression at some point in their lives, or continue to do so, through photography and their own words.


The title of this project came from my first interview with Gwen, my first volunteer. It’s an amendment of a famous line, from London, by English poet William Blake:

“In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear”



Depression, along with other forms of mental illness, is a hidden problem that is stigmatised in society but affects many. I believe it needs to come out of the shadows. I want to tell the stories of normal people, concentrating on their personal experiences of depression alongside how they remain mentally healthy during brighter periods. I want to give hope to other people who struggle with depressive episodes, as well as those close to them. I also wish to show those who don’t know much about mental illness that people with depression are just like you – they have various positions of responsibility and could be your boss, your neighbour, your teacher, your doctor, your sister, your son’s friend. In fact, since it is estimated that about 1 in 4 of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives, it might even be you.


If you wish to contact me or find out more about the project you can find me on Twitter @ieshasmall or email hello@ieshasmall.com


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