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Journey Down Under

Lauren Omartian | Massachusetts, United States

Closed Door


A photographer shares her story of iatrogenic injury from mental health "treatments". She does this in honor of those too debilitated to advocate for themselves and in memory of those who have perished.

Lauren Omartian's essay, For the Record.


Journey Down Under

I hadn’t planned on taking pictures that snowy morning. But, having arrived early for a meeting at a local psychiatric hospital, I ventured downstairs, ostensibly for a walk. I hadn’t been in its tunnels for years.

As a matter of fact, the most recent visit was back in July 2015, when I unexpectedly left my therapist’s office, for good. I recall time passed in cinematic slow motion, instinctively comforting myself, We never-ever have to come back here.

Padding down the hall in my black ballet flats, I gingerly climbed the century-old brick steps, leaned in to a heavy metal door and found myself immersed in mid-summer light. For the first time in 23 years, I was untethered from Psychology.

In the here and now, the tunnels are desolate, funereal. Decades of memories bubble up as I walk briskly past spider-webbed windows and a myriad of alcoves. A faint, forlorn self is revealed. One tainted by standard-of-care protocols that intentionally or not were shaming. And scarring.

As I traverse the serpentine passageways with their signature decay, I feel more than encroaching wariness: an admixture of boldness, empowerment, reclamation. I take pictures reflexively, as a means of defusing my anxiety and documenting an emerging emancipation.





Lauren Omartian


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