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It's Been Pouring

Rachel Papo | Germany

"It's just a vicious circle now. It's all based on my fear of what happened last time. And now I'm worried and anxious that I'll have to go on meds again.
I haven't been able to sleep well for weeks.
I'm trying to just relax and let it pass but it's not happening.
It's just my brain making it worse by thinking too much and worrying."

—Text message to my mother-in-law in the U.S.

Berlin, Germany, 2013

"It's Been Pouring" follows my photographic journey through the dark and often unshared secret of the first year of motherhood. After the birth of my son in 2013 I suffered through a steady mental and physical degradation. My symptoms included severe anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, panic attacks and constant fear. After I recovered I searched for other mothers who went through this experience, in hopes of constructing a mirror of my story and creating images that will echo my own. Through a combination of photos, interviews, emails, text messages, social media posts, journal entries, and personal items, this project provides a portal into the despair and constant tension that exists between the miracle of birth and the potential horror that follows. Here in the objects, words and places of each individual mother, the story of their own suffering unfolds. My ultimate goal is to create a powerful and united voice that will contribute to our own healing, offer comfort and hope to other women and shed a light on this taboo topic.

*Images note:

I took many of the photos, unintentionally, while I was in a desperate mental state. Others were taken a few years later, when I was attempting to complete the visual story of my condition, by photographing places and objects that triggered a powerful emotion and by collaborating with other mothers on their own personal journeys.

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