Rarely have I picked up my camera in the last two years. To be honest, I’ve probably done more ‘shooting’ at the range than I have behind the lens in the last four years.
The face of depression is something I deal with constantly and it’s often hard to describe to people what it means to live with it day in and day out.
I happened upon my reading light and my usual ‘before bed’ get up and thought the angle and framing told the right narrative. A small area of light, surrounded by mostly darkness. A sense of something comfortable yet also an intangible discomfort. Those are some of the themes and senses I get from my depression. Everyone’s depression is different and I hope perhaps someone viewing this may find common ground. Don’t give up, don’t let depression win. Express yourself even if it’s just something simple as a photo before bed.
One of the weirdest things for me is that my anxiety rose along side my depression. It happened very gradually to the point that I really didn’t notice it. Early on I just assumed it was because I never really liked crowds and was always more of a lone wolf. Over the last year or so I’ve tried to reflect and assess my sense of anxiety in more detail.
For some, the physical manifestations are more severe than what I experience. I’ve generally had tension, slight heart rate increase, the occasional knots in my stomach. I can generally tolerate heading out somewhere and being around people but sometimes it just takes one or two trigger stimuli to make me really uncomfortable. Public displays of affection usually have me turning the other way. Really cheerful faces started to make me feel sort of alien. That sense of “why can’t I just be like everybody else around me”. I think for a lot of folks battling anxiety there’s a pervasive fear that everyone around us sees the fear, the sense of not belonging and is judging.
It’s always a bit weird talking about clinical anxiety with someone who hasn’t gone through it. Most folks associate anxiety with nervousness but there’s that subtle difference of severity which makes anxiety so debilitating for some folks.
I happened upon this interesting photo series while looking for inspiration.
The creator did an excellent job in creating some very powerful metaphors about the struggle of those suffering from severe anxiety. The door full of deliveries eerily strikes a chord with me, as did the sink and the floss picks. The smallest social norms become seemingly colossal hurdles. I think to many, they’ll look at that statement and think “It’s all in your head”. The thing is, what isn’t in your head? Your perception of your reality is by definition there in your mind. Some of us are just perceiving things in ways that are harder to address than others.
A lot changed for me from 2015 to 2016. My marriage was over, my ex-wife and I filed for divorce and any drive I had to pick up my camera died off. In part because I met my ex through art and because in some ways I lost her to it too.
Most of my footage was to help others, rarely for myself in the last few years of my marriage. I went from capturing anywhere from 500GBs of data through 2015 to less than 8GB for all of 2016.
I don’t photograph people anymore, it’s a little hard to get people to smile when you don’t. This isn’t the first time I’ve sunken this far and I doubt it will be the last time. Though my photography has been a source of decompression and therapy, it is done with a laser focus and purpose. Gone are the days of photographing for happiness’ sake. There are small projects in my head, darker ones that I want to express but haven’t found the full extent of what I want to say. In some ways the death of one art can be the birth of another. The journey to get there however isn’t always a pleasant one.