Photographer & Mental Health Advocate

Lifestyle & Mental Health Blog of Ashley Jacklyn

Art matters & so does your heart.


I experienced my first real tragedy when I was 10 years old, the attack on the World Trade Center. It was the first time I felt unsafe in my small little world, the first time I thought I would be an orphan because my mother was heading to work that day. 

The years after that tragic and life-changing event, I was never the same. Anxiety-ridden and afraid for some time, but then as I got older and the memories started to fade, I felt safe again. I didn't have to fear losing someone I loved like how I thought I lost my mother on 9/11. I started to forget that every day constant thought of fear and being on the edge afraid to do anything. 


I was a normal teenager or as normal as one would think until I started to experience a lot of anxiety again. It was during my sophomore year of high school when I found myself falling into the traps of my undiagnosed mental illness. I knew at 7 there was something wrong with me but the feelings would come and go so my family thought it was a phase. At 16 though, the feelings were so intense that I stopped sleeping, I became so afraid to look at people in the eyes that most of the time my face was down. I felt crazy, alone, because my family couldn't understand and they thought it was a phase again but I knew this time, it wouldn't go away as quickly as the other moments. 


I did everything I could to keep myself from staying afloat even though I was lost. I joined a sport, played an instrument and kept myself as busy as possible to keep my brain from thinking. Being creative was one of the best ways that I could express myself. I painted, I drew, I danced and I was a photographer for the yearbook.  Years passed and at 18, I was diagnosed with a mild form of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It's weird to say but because of that clinical diagnosis, I felt safe again and more in control of my emotions and thoughts.


In my sophomore year of college, I was gifted my dog, Emmy for Valentine's Day. I was so in love with her and couldn't believe how quickly she stole my heart. Ten days after receiving her, my sister from my father's side was in a motorcycle accident. She died at the hospital and my chances of meeting her in person and creating memories with her did too. You see, I never knew I had siblings on my father side and I just got in contact with her a few months prior to her untimely death. I didn't understand why I was so heartbroken by someone I never really got the chance to know and once again I found myself lost in the darkness. This darkness would last for such a long time and I would do it alone because after losing my sister, I also lost my friends. To this day I am not sure why my friends decided to end our friendships at one of my darkest and neediest times but everything happens for a reason. 


All I had was my puppy, Emmy, and art to keep me going. Around this time I also found out about Instagram and decided to play around with some digital manipulation. I created images from my nightmares and my dreams and below is an image digitally manipulated to create a world that described how I was feeling. Falling, lost and afraid of my own mind. Afraid of death and losing people I loved again, I decided I couldn't do this alone and I sought help. 

The unfortunate reality of life is that I have a mental illness and it will forever be a part of who I am. And as we get older, we will start losing people that we love. Do what you can to cope, to get yourself out of that fearful dark place; for me, it was art in all forms that it comes in. It was allowing myself to express myself even if I couldn't comprehend what I was doing. I still suck at painting and can't draw for the life of me but art still keeps me sane. Thankfully, I  found safety in photography and can escape whenever I feel scared. My sister's anniversary is this Monday and for these past two weeks of February, I have been in an extreme funk, so I decided to paint on one of my favorite jeans from American Eagle. I painted a crescent moon and a sun to depict the light and dark aspects that lie within all of us. I know most people will try to hide from their darkness and/or avoid telling the world about it but I've never been one to follow the rules. 


I'm sad and that's okay. I'm scared and that's okay too...

Until then, xoxo Jacklyn.

Mom jeans from American Eagle

 I wear a size 6 but go up if you're bigger in the stomach area.

I wear a size 6 but go up if you're bigger in the stomach area.