How Photography Relieves Me From Depression

(Written January 2017)

Finding words to describe to which depths depression can take us can be difficult. But, it sure can be a very unpleasant place to be. When the dark thoughts gather up around us, a sense of hopelessness and apathy can rise which we feel will never go away. Add anxiety and it doesn’t only feel like we’re alone in a wasteland without directions, we are simultaneously on fire while pushing our tears back or breaking apart inside them. It feels like we’re being force-burned and cut with a razor-knife inside the chest. Drowning in our emotions, over and over again.

So, what’s gonna rescue us from these personal hells? Are there ways to break the downward spiral and regain some strength and hope for ourselves?

I believe hobbies can be a part of this, and I’ll try to clarify why and how I think this is.

First I will be honest. There are periods when depression makes me feel hobbies and interests are meaningless to engage in, and anxiety frightens me too much to even consider pursuing them. I feel quilt for the idea of choosing to spend time on something I enjoy, as if I wasn’t worthy of it and should instead give all my time for the benefit of others first and always. Or anxiety hits with it’s fake reminder that people will talk down and hate me for doing it. What could be a more perfect barrier?

However, there are those days and moments when my strength is a little more on the plus-side of things. When I really miss being out shooting pictures with my camera. What I’ve learned is that I need to pay attention to those emotions and act on it. If I can manage to get out of the apartment with my camera in my hand there’s so much to be gained:

When I photograph I usually stay out for hours. That means I breath in fresh air.

I also tend to walk a lot to find the right spots for my shots. This means I get some exercise.

If I’m lucky(at least for my health, not so much for photo-friendly lighting, though) there’s sunshine to take in. But, all weathers will do.

Often I choose to photograph in nature. To me nothing can beat the calm experience of that.

Sometimes I forget that I’m depressed altogether, probably since I’m so focused on taking pictures. It lets me feel pure joy without analysing or judge myself. I feel no worry. When I capture an image which I’m satisfied with I feel that I’ve accomplished something that day. It’s a good feeling. Coming home to relax from a day outside is rewarding in itself.

The path with depression is different and individual to each and everyone of us.

For me I’ve come to understand that a big part of my walk in recovery is reexperience or relearning. By that I mean I need to learn to know myself, who I am and what I want all over again. Somewhere along the road I lost these things by being self ignorant, self sacrificing and a servant to others to such a degree that I erased my own will, my own identity.

Every time I’m pursuing photography or another interest of mine I take back parts of me that I’ve lost; and that are the good experiences, moments to cherish and make the long run worth while.

I’m not meaning to make it sound easy. I know it can feel impossible to get back on track. But, we must believe that we can. One step at a time.

If shadows rise on you, don’t let them judge you or steal from you. Acknowledge them as real, but not as truth. The storm will eventually calm, and when ready you’ll take another step towards healing.

If depression stole a hobby or interest from you, don’t give up getting that thing back. Even if it seems a big step, start by simply thinking about it.

Don’t be hard on yourself for not being able to do it all the way at once.

Take it easy, the best way is at your own pace. Take whichever step you can. You’ll get there.

Don’t do it for anyone else, do it for yourself. You’re incredibly worthy of experiencing good moments, or making some new ones.

I believe in you!

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