The Picture of Health is an invisible illness awareness program of CreActiv, LLC, inspired by Leslie's own struggles with invisible illness. It seeks to highlight individuals living with invisible physical, chronic, and mental illnesses. Through the art of photography, #TPOH shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily, focusing on the perceived ‘normalcy’ of people housed in ill bodies.
The mission is to highlight invisible illness from infertility to PTSD to multiple sclerosis to fibromyalgia, among other illnesses. The objective is to elicit compassion and use the project as an educational resource to understanding a variety of health issues.
Read more and check out photos on CreActiv's website.
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE PICTURE OF HEALTH
Leslie grew up in a family of invisible illnesses. While she is the only person on her mother’s side without asthma, she has battled severe allergies and digestive issues for much of her life.
In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder. A diagnosis she believed as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, Leslie was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for weeks. This began a yearlong second opinion process. During which, Leslie began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was later revealed to be fibromyalgia and lumbar disc disease. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion, because rarely does she “look sick.”
Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Leslie. This is why she started an online support groupfor women of color suffering with chronic pain, now a general support group that accompanies The Picture of Health. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, Leslie knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine.
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