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Woman's makeup transformation sheds light on mental illness

A model who goes by the name Troi posted a “before” photo with a bruise she sustained from her brother, who has a mental illness, and an “after” photo post-makeover. (Photo: Instagram/thereal_troi)

Instagram is filled with makeup transformation photos, but one in particular has gone viral for an important reason: It has triggered a conversation about mental illness.

A Detroit-based model, who goes by the name Troi, posted before and after close-ups of her face on Instagram. In the “before,” she has a black eye; in the “after,” she’s wearing makeup that covers up her bruising. “Unless you live or have lived in a house with a mentally ill person, you wouldn’t understand this picture nor my injury,” Troi wrote in the caption. “Mental illnesses and mental disorders are real! Unfortunately, my brother suffers from a severe mental illness called schizoaffective disorder (Google it) and I just so happened to be in the way when he flipped out.”

Troi says that her brother had never put his hands on her before, so she was caught off-guard — and this happened right before her birthday. “I cried for two days and cancelled all my birthday plans,” she continued. “I felt ugly. I was embarrassed, I was hurt, and I knew the first thing people [were] going to think was that I got abused or that I got beat up.

“I just wanted to feel beautiful for my 21st birthday and @thee.waynekash made that happen for me,” she said. “Thank you so much for that.”

The makeup artist that Troi tagged is the Detroit-based Dwayne Daniel, who also posted about the experience on Instagram. “After receiving so many harsh and negative comments from internet trolls @thereal_troi decided to disclose where the bruise actually came from,” Daniel captioned before and after photos of Troi. “I can’t imagine the amount of bravery it must have taken for her to disclose the real story behind her bruise. We don’t take mental illness seriously, especially in the African-American community. So I commend her for her bravery and I stand with her as she continues on living a healthy and happy life.”

Troi tells Yahoo Beauty that she decided to write her own Instagram post after Daniel asked if he could post before and after pictures of her makeup, which left some people assuming that Troi was in a violent relationship. “I just said, ‘I’m just going to go ahead and tell everybody what happened,’” Troi tells Yahoo Beauty. “People don’t really believe that mental illness exists, but it does.”

Daniel tells Yahoo Beauty that Troi made a “very brave decision” to speak out about her brother’s illness. “I think that in the African-American community, people don’t take mental illness seriously, and I think that issues like this can teach the public a lot about how much people really do need help,” he says. Daniel says that Troi’s jaw dropped after he did her makeup. “She was in utter disbelief,” he says.

As Troi said in her Instagram post, her brother suffers from schizoaffective disorder, which is a mental disorder that causes a person to experience a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood-disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The disorder affects people’s ability to control their moods, which can lead to escalations in their emotions and behavior, clinical psychologist John Mayer, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Beauty. “When they experience a feeling, that feeling escalates from zero to 60 miles per hour without any regulation of threshold,” he explains.

Treatment typically involves medication therapy (with anti-psychotic medications and mood stabilizers) and intensive psychotherapy, Mayer says. “Often hospitalization is a part of treatment to be able to keep the patient and others safe during the treatment and to have the person in an environment where medications can be tried and regulated as to their effectiveness,” he explains. Psychotherapy sessions need to be frequent, he says, and paying attention to the patient’s social support and environment is a crucial part of treatment.

As for Troi, she says that her eye is getting better, but she still has visible bruising. “It’s healing, but it’s weighing on me emotionally,” she shares. Troi says that she hopes her post has an impact on others. “A lot of people don’t speak out about mental illness because they’re scared of judgment,” she says. “I was before, but I’m not now.”

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