Inside: A Conversation With Self

Denis Valery Ndayishimiye

At the time of taking these photographs, we are in the midst of a pandemic that, for many, has restricted the way we live: economically, and, more importantly, socially. During this prolonged period of uncertainty, it is important now, more than ever, to raise awareness and look out for one another’s mental health. Authentic photography is just one of many ways in which we can tell and share first-person narratives around mental health (especially depression and anxiety), suffering, and healing. My photographs capture the experience of living with depression and anxiety. Because they come from a personal space, these images can communicate authentically with the wide audience of people who share similar afflictions and can start important conversations in our society.

It sucks doesn’t it? Smiling at how worthless you are, pretending you are okay.

There is light and there is darkness, and then there is me, a ghost trapped in between.

Let’s merely follow the routine. Go with the wind. After all, who cares?

I want to stay in my head, but it is too loud in here.

I’ll try to smile tomorrow and clean up the mess I created in my mind.

Each time I think I have arrived at the finish line, it only gets more burdensome…harsher.

As water bodies do, in opening up to you, I evaporate and give you my burden. But, like the sky, you condense it and throw it back at me like a deluge.

I am daunted by being like everyone else yet I don’t even know who I am.

I’m hence far gone…what is left to lose?

Denis Valery Ndayishimiye is a filmmaker who likes to experiment with photography and short story writing. He started with theatre when he was in high school and went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking and film production. He has participated in various international filmmaker programmes like Durban Talents in South Africa (2020) and a Luxor, Egypt (2021) filmmaking workshop. He received a grant from King’s College London to work on a project about the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, and he also participated in the Wessex University Writers Program, aimed at changing the stereotypes on mental health in East African communities. His first short film, Being of Bones, is on the international festival circuit. His work explores the different challenges that the youth face trying to make space for themselves in a rushing society.