Powerful photos show how a photographer dealt with the devastation of her mother’s depression

(Daria Klimasheva)

I remember the day when you called me early in the morning saying that you wanted to divorce my dad. The simple, declarative nature of this caption (for the picture above) belies a whirlwind of confusion and upheaval that became Daria Klimasheva’s life soon after. She was 15 years old and the divorce unleashed something like a seasonal depression in her mother, a disease unknown to Klimasheva. “I was trying to become a mom for my mom and it felt wrong,” she writes in the introduction to the photo essay she created about the next six years as she approached adulthood. Klimasheva studied photography at Moscow State University and at the Danish Media School of Journalism. She purposely presents this story in English. “When I imagine the way I would talk about this in Russian, it causes me pain,” she says. Vulnerability, however, grew into strength as she worked. “I was raised in the family which taught me to smile when it’s hard, to hide your problems, to pretend that you’re ok when you are not. But you cannot go any further when you are full of pain and fear. Eventually you realize that the only way out is by putting some of the memories on the shelf.” Or in a poignant, elegant, breathtaking story that brings new meaning to profound love and all its demands.

I didn’t know then that I would not recognize my mom in the woman I met that day.

I could sit in the bathroom for hours. It was my way to escape.

Back then I used to be weak and small compared to you. You always were strong. I only saw you crying several times in all these years.

I felt panicked seeing your weakness.

One day you changed the rules and I had to adopt them. No explanation, no talk, nothing to help me understand what was going on.

I could not go away, could not stay. Sometimes I hated you for making me feel like that.

I was watching you cross highways without looking sideways and cars stopping at your feet. I followed you. I was afraid to lose you.

I was going crazy imitating your poses and breathing with the same speed just to catch a glimpse of what you were feeling.

I grew up. I don`t try to save you anymore. I learned to trust in you and accept you– the whole of you- because I can’t live your life and I can’t give you mine.

I just want you to know that every dream I pursue is to light a desire for life in you.