When the doctor said it, I was both scared and relieved.
During the course of a year-long project about bipolar disorder, I encountered many different situations and with a good number of patients, healthcare workers and relatives. Bipolar disorder takes a heavy toll on the patients of course, but also on people around them. Many features associated with the disease (substance issues, mood swings, general instability, etc) are stigmatizing on the one hand and conducive to severe solitude on the other. Two hallmarks of the disease are manic and depressive phases, each with very specific characteristics. For this essay, I reflected the emotional roller-coaster experienced by patients and oscillated between pure photojournalistic images, regular portraits of stabilized patients, most of them leading a very fulfilling life, and more exploratory "portraits" of patient’s inner mental space during manic phases, which are based on a collaborative effort between patients and myself, whereby they shared in great level of details the individual features of their own personal manic phases.
Award-winning photographer Matthieu Zellweger grew up in French-speaking Switzerland. He specializes in public health and societal reportage. He is also a fully trained scientist with 15+ years of involvement in public health matters, and a graduate in International Political Economy. His images appeared in various magazines (New York Times, BBC World, Burn Magazine, Der Spiegel online, Le Temps, GEO, NZZ, l'Hebdo, l'Humanité, Jeune Afrique, Phosphore, l'Illustré, Animan). Matthieu Zellweger lives in Switzerland and works in French, English, German and Italian. He is represented and distributed by Haytham Pictures/ REA Photo (Paris).