A professional ballerina has candidly documented her struggles with depression on Instagram while trying to succeed in an industry that focuses on body image.
Sydney Magruder Washington is a third-generation dancer who lives in New York City with her wife while working as a professional ballerina.
About three years ago, she decided to start posting about mental health and her own struggles with accepting herself because she realized there was a lack in people talking openly about depression and anxiety.
Candid: Professional ballerina Sydney Magruder Washington has used her Instagram to talk about her own struggles with mental illness
Strong: She decided to open up about her world as a dancer and someone who struggles with mental illness in hopes it could help other people
‘I was sharing mostly because I’m kind of an open book,’ Sydney told Health Magazine. ‘I wanted to crush my own shame about how I felt about it.’
Sydney uses her Instagram account to connect with her followers about her life – including being a part of the black, LGBT, and dance community.
‘I don’t know anyone who identifies exactly how I do, and that’s fine,’ she told the magazine. ‘But I wish I had had someone to talk to about specific issues that I’ve had to work out on my own. That’s why I share with others who come after me.’
She also has used it to open the conversation about mental health, including her battle with major depressive disorder and panic disorder.
In one of her posts, Sydney explained how her new medication to help with her anxiety and depression has caused her to gain weight. This has added stress to her life because she works in an industry that expects the dancers to be thin.
‘You want to know why I feel uncomfortable? Because I live and breathe in an industry (and in a world, really) that mandates thinness as a requirement for employment, basically,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘As I am tempted towards relapse I feel a surge of anger – why does ballet exclude people on the basis of their weight? Why do we mandate such an unrealistic body type?’
Beautiful: Sydney said she has struggled to find others to look up to who are also black, in the LGBT community and a professional dancer. She hopes to be a role model for others
Impressive: The ballerina calls herself a ‘#MentalHealthWarrior’. She uses her posts to let people know that it is OK to talk about mental illness
Warrior: ‘Mental illness makes me differently abled, but it does not make me less worthy,’ she wrote in a recent post on Instagram
The ballerina calls herself a ‘#MentalHealthWarrior’ on Instagram as she tries to let other people know it is OK to have these disorders.
‘Mental illness makes me differently abled, but it does not make me less worthy,’ she said in a post.
‘Therapy, medication, hope, determination, and GOD HIMSELF are a lot mightier than the cruel words of a joyless person.’
While Sydney understands there is a trend with using natural substances to help with mental illness, she is unafraid to post the benefits of taking Western medication.
In the past, she has shared the different medication she takes and encouraged her followers to comment about their own preference as a way to open up the conversation.
‘I take 4 different medicines (3 in the morning and 1 in the evening) in order to feel and function my best,’ she wrote.
Sydney’s honesty and commitment to normalize mental illness has garnered her more than 30,000 followers on Instagram. Many of whom offer words of encouragement for the dancer on the posts.