Depression is an isolating disease. But through This Place is Yours, Seraphina Reynolds hopes to connect suffers with their communities. Collecting the personal narratives of writers and artists who’ve struggled with trauma, the new book is part of a broader project that launched at this year’s VIVID Festival.
Reynolds initiated This Place is Yours as a way of combatting her own depression. “I launched this project about trauma and storytelling as I was going through my own,” she explains. “ I guess I started because I could see the value that storytelling could give me. I wanted to create the kind of book that people could feel a little bit of that and experience it for themselves.”
While the first stage of the project saw stories compiled online at thisplaceisyours.com, the book is an anthology of stories by Jeremyville, Julia deVille and Bridge Stehli, along with photographer Cybele Malinowski and musician Ben Lee. Writers discuss topics ranging from falling in love, experiencing domestic violence, regaining happiness after the loss of a child, the joy of friendship and enduring depression. “I really wanted a wide variety,” says Reynolds. “There are some pretty heavy stories in there that are about people going through very painful experiences, but there are also stories about falling in love, and that’s equally important.”
To Reynolds, there’s still something appealing about the physical nature of the real-life book. “Paper is tangible. It uses all your senses,” she says. “When you’re connecting to something that’s deep, and coming from someone’s guts, it’s important to have all your senses alive. The stories deserve that.”
While This Place is Yours will continue to share stories online, Reynolds sees the next phase of the project as happening offline, at storytelling evenings that connect people in their own communities. “I still want people to be able to share their stories online, but to also to bring down those boundaries and start to have those kinds of conversations that matter,” says Reynolds. “That’s how communities have always been formed: through storytelling.”