“I’m not naive enough to think I can eliminate the stigma of mental illness, but what little bit I can do, that’s what I want to achieve.
The idea behind my project ‘Home of the Brave’ is to show that those who suffer from mental illness should not be defined by that label. If you’re diabetic, if you have high blood sugar, people don’t define you by that, so they shouldn’t define you by a mental illness either ... They might be thriving today and maybe not tomorrow, but there are people that are out working and living, and they’re doing more despite their mental illness.
I’ve kept my personal struggles with anxiety largely a secret. Over the years I learned various strategies to manage it. I am so very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive wife who showed me there is no shame in asking for help.
My portrait will be the final photograph in this project. It will be an honor to follow in the footsteps of the participants of Home of the Brave. These folks have inspired me beyond words and I thank each and every one of them for helping me reveal a deeply personal ’secret‘ which I have kept hidden for most of my life.
Sharing our stories is a very powerful and cathartic way to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. When I was going to university back in the early ‘80s, absolutely nobody talked about mental illness. It was like the words to talk about mental illness – in an educated, empathetic way – hadn’t yet been invented.
And the result was I suffered in silence. I was too scared, too ashamed and too confused to breathe a word to anyone. Back then, I felt a responsibility to protect my parents and so I never told them. In retrospect I naively thought my anxiety would go away and even now, that conversation has never really occurred.”
Danny Miller, SAIT Instructor, School of Information and Communication Technologies | SAIT alumnus, Printing Management Technology '92 | Photographer, Home of the Brave
Editor’s note: ‘Home of the Brave’ uses black and white film photography and features people who have been impacted by mental illness, or as Danny describes them, “some of the most courageous and inspirational people I know.” The portraits were inspired by a stigmatizing and a misconstrued photograph of actor and comedian Robin Williams, which was published after he died by suicide in 2014. The project also reflects Miller’s own life experience. View the project on Danny’s blog fivehundredandnine.ca.