FAIR LAWN, N.J.– Fair Lawn native Brittany McEnteggart hopes photography can help change the stigma around depression and suicide.
Her Beautifully Broken Project focuses on people who've struggled with depression and lost loved ones to suicide – something she knew too well.
"I always felt like I was just going with the motions of every day life," said McEnteggart, 24, who now lives in in Dundalk, Ireland. "I went down a bad path, always wanting to party and forget what I really wanted out of life.
"Things slowly spiraled out of control and I was drinking all the time, destroying my life along with the things that were important to me."
McEnteggart was 18 when she found out – seven months after the fact – that her estranged father killed himself.
"It tore me apart because I never knew him the way I would have liked too," McEnteggart said. "And then it was too late to try."
Beautifully Broken stems from a photo series that McEnteggart completed as her final project before graduating from O'Fiach Institute of Further Education in her adoptive homeland.
The images tell stories of five people dealing with depression, anxiety, drug abuse, or the death of a loved one.
"I included a semicolon in their images to show that life goes on and things do get better, as a semicolon represents where a sentence could have ended but didn't," McEnteggart said.
Things got better for McEnteggart after she met her partner, Aine. The couple was married three years ago.
"I truly believe she was my saving grace," McEnteggart said. "Aine has taught me how to love myself and be the person I always wanted to be."
After telling the stories of others, McEnteggart pulled back the curtains on her experiences.
She plans on expanding the photo project "because it will show people that life does get better. Maybe not in a day or a month, but it gets better."