Over the past couple years, I have discovered that I experience intrusive thoughts–thoughts that do not feel like mine. Thoughts that scare me, disturb me, and for a long time caused me to believe I was a genuinely bad person. I walk into a classroom, I think about school shooters. I walk into my mother’s kitchen, I think about all the things I can do with a knife. Even though I would never act on any of these thoughts, it’s nightmarish and hard to talk about. But it is also part of how I experience the world. Discussions with teenagers about mental illness don’t usually stray far from depression, anxiety, and suicide. It’s not that those subjects aren’t important—they are. But when you spend your life imagining death and harm around every corner without any discussion of that experience, it can be dangerous. It took me a very long time to realize that my intrusive thoughts do not define who I am. I created this series of photographs to help explain my experience to those who don’t understand, and to allow those who understand all too well to know they’re not alone, even if it feels like they are. —Jehan Segal
Jehan Segal is an artist and occasional farmer currently studying in Portland, Oregon. They enjoy fashion, taking pictures of friends, and playing the musical saw. You can also find them on Tumblr.