Denty Piawai Nastitie
4 min readNov 23, 2020

a photo essay project with the topic on ‘Healing’

Experiencing a mental illness is like a journey with a series of stages. For most people with a mental health problem, even if they had the feeling of unduly anxious, depressed, or distressed a lot of time, it takes time until they admit they need help. After the individuals get a diagnosis from the experts, the journey to manage them better and move towards recovery, is not easy.

Syaiful Huda, a HIV/AIDS advocate, explained that he has felt the symptoms of mental disorders since he was in junior high school. As he gets older, the symptoms become more intense. He used to have sleeping disorder, anxiety, mood swings, fear, impulsive, and always made unexpected decisions.

The year of 2017 became his turning point. It was happened when he worked in Bali. “I had conflict with my supervisor and close friends. My life was chaotic. I had thought that it all had to do with astrology, the full-moon impact, and so on,” Huda, or usually called Ithonk, explained.

Instead of going to an expert, he tried various alternatives to heal himself. Unfortunately, he just got even more messed up. When he came back to his hometown in Yogyakarta, he went to the psychiatrists where he was diagnosis with bipolar and borderline personality disorder (BPS).

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings. When Ithonk becomes depressed, he feels sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly. Furthermore, BPS impacts the way he thinks and feels about himself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. Currently, he takes treatment that can control his emotions.

His medical routine and consultations with the experts help him to be more peaceful. The journey to heal himself is not easy. He experienced social stigma and financial problem. However, he gets full supports from his family and friends that help him to keep going on. In addition, even after undergoing treatment, there are times when anxiety arises.

According to Ithonk, the most importat thing is not to get rid of depression, but to manage all the feelings to feel better. “Trust your process. Although the journey is challenging, it is well worth the ride,” he said.

In Indonesia, the number of people with mental disorders is increasing. Based on the 2018 Basic Health Research, the number reached 9.8 percent of the total population. World Health Organization has mentioned that health is a state of complete mental, social, and physical well-being. Healing process often associated with physical, whereas it also related with mental journey.

*Photography and text submission as an assignment for ACFJ at the Ateneo de Manila University by Denty Piawai Nastitie. All the photographs are copyrighted to author any use of photos without concerns of author will be subject to legal actions.