It was an anxiety attack at a recent Christmas party that got Yasaman Gheidi thinking about the silent struggles people face when it comes to mental health.
Fearing that co-workers and friends would label or stigmatize her, the Vancouver beauty blogger and X-ray technologist finally admitted something to herself: She had spent many years trying to hide her depression and anxiety.
"I felt really alone. I was scared of sharing – I didn't want to be labelled as crazy," she said, adding she didn't want to hide her struggle any longer.
"I found that by staying quiet it was making it worse."
She dubbed it the "Inside Out Challenge," inspired by the movie, challenging others living with mental illness to share their stories in a safe and creative way -- using makeup to create an outward expression of what they feel on the inside, no matter how dark.
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with Gheidi receiving messages of hope and support from around the globe.
"It’s amazing to know you're not alone. There's a lot of comfort in that unity," she said.
"I created this challenge to start a conversation so that I could start chipping away at mental health."
What started as a whisper two weeks ago has grown into a powerful movement. Since Jan. 9, more than 600 people have used the hashtag #InsideOutChallenge to share their experiences – many intensely personal – with mental illness, PTSD, depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, panic attacks and bipolar disorder.
The project has also been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, and dozens of beauty blogs across North America.
Sometimes the images are disturbing and sad and aren't easy to look at – but that's the point, says Gheidi.
"Sometimes people don't take mental illness seriously enough because there aren't any obvious physical symptoms. But you don't know what that person is going through inside," she said.
Professional makeup artist Izzy Zirilli used the challenge to combat her fight with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"ADHD hasn't ruined my life or made me sad, it made me realize that I'm the way I am for a reason," she wrote on Instagram. "My brain works differently than others and I am glad to be who I am, inside and out."
Having "inherited depression and anxiety disorders" from her mother, California makeup artist Britt Gorman accepted the challenge as a way to raise awareness through Instagram.
"I know there will always be road blocks, but I'm really happy by how much understanding there is on social media," she wrote.
"It doesn't have to be a dark mystery. The more the social stigma lifts, the better."
Follow #InsideOutChallenge on Instagram to see more posts.