“At thirteen I went through a heavy depression. I didn’t have any specific reason to be unhappy but I just wasn’t happy. I would spend most of my free time at home or online. One day I met a boy through Facebook and we became friends. We would talk every day.

He was also going through a depression and he was addicted to drugs. Our friendship wasn’t the most stabile one but still we really understood each other. It was an online friendship and we only met one time. When all of a sudden I didn’t hear from him anymore, I asked his brother who I went to school with what had happened to his brother, I didn’t get a clear answer.

Months went by without hearing from him. It was really hard but I had to accept it. I slowly was feeling better and I started to heal from my depression. Then finally I received a message from him saying he went into rehab. Not hearing from him was really hard but I forgave him. Even though we only met once I do think we have a real bond. However, I think we both realized that we needed time to heal by ourselves in order to ever have a healthy relationship.”

“Last year I graduated from high school but I decided not to apply for Uni. I have always had a big passion for photography and so I wanted to take a year off to practice and discover my photography skills. My parents agreed but only if I would treat it like a real job so that is what I do, 5 days a week I am either shooting or editing photo’s. So far it is going really well and my Instagram account is slowly growing. Next year I’ll probably go to study but I still have no idea what exactly. Before that I want to travel all by myself. Initially I wanted to go to Asia but through Instagram I met many other photographers in Norway so I am planning to go there. It will be the first time I will be traveling alone which is super scary but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I don’t want my fear to keep me from seeing the world.”

“I still get tears in my eyes if I talk about it but a few weeks ago I met a woman, here in this street and she looked very worried. I asked her what was wrong and she explained that she just got out of an abusive relationship. I invited her to my church. The next day she came to a church meeting and she told me that she barely has enough money to provide for her children. I am not a rich man but my faith has taught me to help those in need. I went to the supermarket and got her a bag full of groceries. I know that is not a solution to her problems but when I gave her the bag, I could see a bit of relief in her eyes.”

‘‘It sounds a bit strange but when I was diagnosed with a hypermobility syndrome I actually felt relieved. For a big part of my life I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I would always feel so exhausted and my body would hurt. When the doctor diagnosed me I finally knew I wasn’t exaggerating. Because my condition isn’t something you can see from the outside it is really hard for other people to understand my limitations. Because of my limitations its really hard to find a job. Even if I were employed I probably would be physically disapproved. However, I don’t want to have to depend on welfare and I belief I can contribute to society with my art. I never gave up my passion for painting and illustrating so I decided to work as a freelancer. There is a lot of competition in my field and still I am struggling to get enough work but I really love my job. I am also really blessed with the people around me. My boyfriend for example, he doesn’t make a big deal out of my condition and he gives me the feeling that I am much more than my disease. Also my friends are incredible. 9 out of 10 times I am fatigue and I have to cancel going to their events such as birthday parties and weddings because I am experiencing a lot of physical pain. Still they keep inviting me even though I can never really commit. That just means the world to me.‘‘

“Every morning I wake up at 4:45AM just to get to work here in Amsterdam. I’m from the North of the country and I’m actually a carpenter not a construction worker but since to financial crisis it’s hard to get a contract so I take any job I can get. I make long heavy days, I spend a lot of time in traffic but honestly I’m just glad that I have a job.”