As the clouds start to roll in… You try to reach for the light, but it seems so hard to grasp. You begin to claw and claw to try and fight your way out of the darkness, but somehow each attempt to run from it drives you deeper and deeper into the hole. It is misery, it is mind numbing, and it is difficult. The days seem to get longer and longer. Your hope and passion seems to fade further and further away from you, and no matter the amount of talking or trying to escape the feeling you feel trapped in a hole with no way out.
It is depression, and unfortunately in todays society it has a huge stigma attached to it. You have the “I’ve been there man” type of people that tell you its just your mind and that you’ll just snap out of it if they keep telling you. You also have the family and friends that really just don’t know how to handle the situation. They attempt to comfort you and truly try to understand your pain, but you can tell it makes them uncomfortable, and that really gets to you as well.
That was me for the better part of a year following an extremely rough patch in my life. I spiraled out of control, let my mind take over, and dug myself into the biggest hole I could ever imagine. This continued on for months. I would cry for no reason and tell myself all I wanted to do was to feel normal again, however, even with summoning all of my power I couldn’t. It came to a point where I hit a stretch in which I did not sleep for a week. I was so tired and drained I could barely function during the regular hours of the day. I had hit a point in my life where I felt the anxiety and the sadness I was experiencing was so bad that I wanted to give up. I felt I would be better of dead than to try and dig myself out. This had been the only point in my life I had ever felt suicidal, and that terrified me. I had completely lost hope, quit on myself, and nearly quit on everyone around me.
God bless my beautiful, tender and caring wife. She was the one by my side, calming me when anxious, coddling me when sad, and motivating me to get out of the house to remind myself of the things I was living for in the first place. I needed my motivation back, and needed to find an outlet for all of my pent up energy. A creative mind when unused can become a demon if you do not harness it. I had lost my leash and needed to get it back any way that I could.
Personally, I have always been a creative person. From my childhood I was a talented drawer, painter, and ambitious designer. I would spend hours sculpting things out of Lego building blocks, designing Nike sneakers at the age of 11, and painting whatever medium I had in front of me. I loved the arts, I loved to be creative, and somehow as I had become an adult I lost that in the mist of chaos the real world brings. My depression had sucked my childhood joys away from me, and I needed to do whatever I could to get it back.
I can remember my first trip out with my camera during my episode like it was just yesterday. My wife and I decided to go for a walk to try and burn of some emotional stress. We headed to a local trail near Lacamas Lake and I decided I would bring my camera with to try and take photos to take my mind off of the negativity. We didn’t end up taking many photos, but I did take this one, and I will never forget it. This photo represented my journey back to a healthy mind and decisions that would change how I approached my depression.
It wasn’t great by any means; directly into the sun, lots of aberration in the shot, and probably not as clear as it needed to be. However, it did what it needed to do, and that was to get me back on the right track.
From that point, I began to find interest in my photography again. I began to feel an urge to get out of the house and to experience what the world had to offer me aside from the traditional adult life of the 8 to 5, Monday through Friday routine. I had a sense of belonging in something I had so dearly needed for the last several months. Slowly but surely I began to take my camera everywhere, got out of the house, and got back to being creative. My wife was ever so supportive in my efforts. She consistently urged me to continue, to do the things I loved, and to find something I truly enjoyed which I was doing by taking photos.
Depression is a demon. It doesn’t show itself publicly, but once you’ve dealt with it you can see it in others faces if you just look close enough… How can something that is so common now have such a stigma attached to it? I will never understand, because the only way I was able to come to grips with my condition was to face it head on. I know it may not ever be the last time I deal with it, but I will do my best to not let it sneak up on me again. If all else fails take my advice: if you feel your lowest with no hope and no regard for yourself, phone a friend or hotline, do your best to find your passion and get back to living. Something so temporary should not lead one to the point it led me. The dark places will not stay dark forever, just trust in yourself and the good people around you that things will go your way and you will find the light for your darkness like I did.
Now get out, get shooting, and get happy!