Sometimes, it can be difficult ― or even impossible ― to describe the way we feel. This statement is especially true when talking about emotions and thoughts triggered by certain mental states and disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, etc.
To help break the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, the Italian architect and graphic designer Federico Babina has created 16 illustrations that successfully portray how different mental conditions can affect us. Working with the Spanish Jazz composer Elisabet Raspall, Babina has made an animated video in which he visually explains what one cannot always express verbally.
For all 16 illustrations in his ARCHIATRIC project, Babina uses the image of a house: a symbol for the bodies we call our homes. As seen in the animated video above, the artist initially depicts every mental disorder in the same way; that is, he begins with the image of a black house. He then manipulates this image and illustrates how each mental state affects this house (the body).
Taking a case in point, when depicting anxiety, Babina uses chains to represent the tightness we feel in our chests. Moreover, the house expands and contracts rapidly, mimicking the way we often hyperventilate when we feel anxious. The hollow part of the house also rapidly changes as it appears and disappears; this is symbolic of the heart which beats uncontrollably fast when our thoughts take over. Finally, Babina depicts these frenzied thoughts by drawing coils coming out of the roof.
For his illustration of dementia, Babina begins with the gradual disappearance of parts of the black house. Before they completely vanish, the small squares first slowly fade away. In drawing this, Babina illustrates how dementia takes over the mind and slowly erases one’s memories. The artist represents memory loss in his depiction of Alzheimer’s Disease too. In this case, he makes the colour of the house disappear until there is nothing more but a little black shadow in the corner. Moreover, Babina incorporates cracks to further highlight the way the mind changes when someone suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Depression is a disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and emptiness. Babina depicts this emptiness by removing the central part of the house. This hollowness symbolizes not only how one can feel worthless and purposeless but also how they lose interest in everything and everyone around them. In the video, one can see the house slowly begin to melt away. Babina emphasises how if depression is left untreated, it can slowly but surely destroy the house — and in turn, the person.
The video concludes with a powerful message as Babina brings together all 16 designs. The artist breaks the stigma surrounding mental disorders by showing us that when various homes are brought together, it is likely that each and every home has (in one way or another) been touched by a mental condition. Ultimately, the ARCHIATRIC project is a reminder that you are not alone.