Anxiety, the hidden and embarrassed word that hangs over many more heads than, at the start, we think, led two friends of 28 years to act with what they had at hand. In an account Instagram, Mariana Barbosa Pereira and Laura Pina talk about the theme, but more than that they communicate emotions and outbursts through illustration. The (ins) Pira project was born on March 22 and already has more than 1,500 followers.
“We have been dealing with anxiety for many years,” explains Mariana, who has a background in management and currently lives abroad. “We always talked to the other about it and that sharing alone was therapeutic. But we were also realizing that there is a lot of shame associated with anxiety, it is a pity to have this kind of dramatic and gray layer around it ”, he continues, in conversation with the Observer.
Together, they decided that the best medicine was, as they did among friends, to get people talking about the topic. Laura, designer and illustrator, conceived characters that are multiform and without gender. “I don't feel like myself – there is no better phrase that describes the mental and physical disconnection that we feel when we are anxious. We don't feel like thinking with our head, we don't feel in our body ”, can be read in one of the publications made over the past two months.
To make the messages useful and accurate, the two friends count on the collaboration of a clinical psychologist. The satisfaction in helping, however, weighs in a matter that is already included in the field of mental health, responsibility too. “Thank you for your project. Sometimes we think that we are the only ones to live in this bubble but after all we are many ”, reacts one user to one of the publications. "Thanks. Incredible work ”, comments another user.
In the illustration, whether animated or not, Mariana and Laura found a “lighter and less dramatic” way of approaching the theme. “We try to put in a simple way what is complex and is inside our head”, continues Mariana. Still, going for the illustration was also a challenge. The use of color can unlock emotions and lighten what is normally heavy and difficult, but the two friends never wanted the end result to be childish or out of step with adult reality.
The Pira (ins) project started to be considered early in the year, but the pandemic accelerated the process. They talk about a lot of closed people at home and the need, suddenly even more urgent, to convey the message that no one "is alone in this". “People feel comfortable talking to us, many thought they were the only ones who felt this. But we cannot take such a personal approach, in these cases we end up referring them to a therapist ”, he explains.
Mental health has been the subject of public debate. Around the world, personalities like Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Gisele Bündchen and Sara Sampaio have spoken publicly about their own problems, but also about a stigma to be tackled. As for the particular case of anxiety, Kandall Jenner was the last to address the issue, last weekend. After a childhood learning to control panic attacks, Jenner revealed, on a television program, that they came back when his career began to grow, about three years ago.
The project (ins) Pira now wants to amplify the message and is promoting an illustration contest. In collaboration with Ó Galeria, amateurs and professionals are challenged to answer the question: what is anxiety for you? The initiative runs until next Sunday, May 24, deadline for submitting proposals, and coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, promoted by the British Mental Health Foundation.
“It is open to anyone, not just artists. And this year is dedicated to illustration, but we want to partner with other areas, such as fashion, who knows, ”explains Mariana. On June 3, three winners will be revealed, a symbolic victory that will take the works in question to a digital exhibition created by Ó Galeria.