Jordan x Isobel


A journey of recovery from despair to self-care

For mental health advocate Jordan, keeping up with the mounting demands of everyday life can lead to total system overwhelm; manifesting in extreme anxiety and compulsive urges to skin pick.

Through a series of animations by artist, Isobel, Escape, Repair, Resurface illustrates the journey that Jordan takes when she gives herself permission to step away, reset and recover; reminding us that taking time out can give us the strength to move forward.

Jordan Kaatzke-McDonald (she/her)

This artistic expression encompasses the part of my journey that has struggled and still struggles with depression, anxiety and a lesser spoken about form of body focused repetitive behaviour, which for me, is compulsive skin picking.

This artwork is inspired by all the times that I feel overwhelmed (which is often), from things as simple as text messages or phone calls that need to be replied to, to assignments, due dates and social outings. When I get extremely anxious, I tend to go on auto-pilot and pick my skin as both a distraction, coping mechanism and outlet, despite knowing the severe mental toll and deep shame that comes with it.

The video explores this, my various healthy coping mechanisms, and depicts that we are all capable of lifting ourselves up, bandaging our wounds and continuing forward.

Isobel Knowles (she/her)

This sequence depicts anxieties that Jordan struggles with regularly, how they manifest, and the way she manages her feelings with self-care. We chose a scenario that is a typical stress trigger for Jordan, followed by a surreal escape into an enclosed space which represents a feeling of wanting to shut everything out.

The self-care scene was designed with all the calming imagery that appeals to Jordan and the Band-Aids are symbolic of Jordan putting herself back together while still wearing the visual marks of her anxiety, almost as a badge of strength for having made it through something. The colours used in the piece are colours Jordan associates with stress and calm.




My headspace is different, and the Band Aids are a physical representation of the trauma that lies beneath, but it does not define me. I am not my scars. I will keep moving forward.

I want people to view these videos and see themselves, or a loved one. To get a sense of what it might be like for those who suffer from any kind of mental illness at all. To get a peek into why their friend hasn’t replied in a few days. Or perhaps why they may be acting different lately.

And for those struggling with mental health who feel alone and ashamed, I want to emphasise that you are not alone, but are visible. You’re not alone and you don’t need to hide. There is help out there, and things can get better, even if it’s just finding little ways to manage the day-to-day.

'Escape, Repair, Resurface' is a three part video animation

The collab

Through talking with Jordan, I learnt that anxiety can manifest in different ways for each one of us. For some people, this can then produce further anxieties due to the stigma around mental health.

We spoke about the messages Jordan felt were important to share. I also asked Jordan lots of questions about the imagery that she responds to, and tried to include this as much as possible in the illustrations.

Lehmann Smith added a soundtrack which heightens the emotional journey for the audience. The music in the bath scene is so warm and calm, it feels like it does me good just listening to it! I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m so happy Jordan feels that it speaks to her experience!


I am so happy and proud of what Isobel has created and am so appreciative of her time, dedication, skill and effort. I feel very fortunate to have been able to go on this journey with her.

Having someone else be able to visualise this part of my story and creatively respond to it was a really wonderful experience. Seeing the end result was amazing as I could really see how Isobel listened to who I am and was able to depict so skilfully what I feel, and the journey I’ve been on.

Emotionally I really connect with the piece she has created and am very excited to share this with the wider community.


Jordan Kaatzke-McDonald (she/her)

Jordan has been a youth ambassador with ReachOut since 2017 and is currently studying nursing. She is extremely passionate about mental health, having struggled with her own mental health challenges. Jordan hopes that sharing her experiences will help others that may be struggling. A quote she often refers to, and finds comfort in, is a well-known one from Harry Potter – “Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Isobel Knowles (she/her)

Isobel is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work investigates different aspects of human experience and engages viewers physically and emotionally through technology, narrative and interaction. Isobel’s storytelling practice focuses on collaboration with communities and individuals to sensitively portray their stories through animation. Her work has been screened nationally and internationally. Visit her website

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Visible is a movement initiated by the Australian Youth Advocates for Mental Health (AYAMH), co-ordinated by headspace and guided by 9 National Mental Health organisations.

Visible would like to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First People and Traditional Custodians. We value their cultures, identities, and continuing connection to country, waters, kin and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and are committed to making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

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headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd is a health promotion charity that has been endorsed as a deductible gift recipient. ABN 26 137 533 843