Spotlight on Depression
When I started my Highs and Lows of Event Photography blog back in 2010, I excitedly looked forward to having a spare moment to share with you the, well, highs and lows of being an event photographer!
As time went on, the moments to spare became fewer and father between and I struggled to keep up with the content I had originally intended for you.
Writing blog posts was no longer something I didn’t have a spare moment for, it was, as so many other aspects of my life, something I felt completely overwhelmed by.
One of the reasons I was struggling was because I suffer from depression.
This week was Depression Awareness Week.
I began the week sharing my Spotlight on Depression series, a collection of photographs highlighting the effects of depression on everyday life.
I started to take these self portraits a while back, to help those around me understand what living with depression feels like.
I hadn’t expected it to be as therapeutic as it was. Having the idea, the execution and the sharing.
I felt good to have had an idea and to actually find the motivation to create something and see it through to the end.
I felt a weight lift being able to share photographs that expressed the feelings I’d struggled to try to explain with words alone.
When I’d say ‘I am tired’ or ‘I can’t think clearly, my mind is all over the place’ it was always greeted with ‘Oh, we all have days like that’, or, ‘just snap out of it, others have it plenty worse than you’ etc etc.
Just the fact that the first few photos I took in the series were of me on my couch, the only place I’d go if I did manage to get out of bed at all, was telling. All I really wanted to do was sleep, and my couch was just somewhere else to lie down, curl up and go back to sleep.
However much the taking and sharing of the photos were motivation for me to actually get up and do something, the response on the social media sites was surprising. Several people told me that, although they thought the photos themselves were ‘awesome’ the captions were ‘depressing’ (no joke)
I felt desperately depressed. I thought I’d further to fall, because it was me who had placed so much hope and ultimately credit on the sharing of these images being the reason I had started to feel better.
I tried to explain, that the purpose was to raise awareness to my friends, family, colleagues and co-workers, of how I feel, and what impact depression is having on my life and so many others who too are battling their own minds each and every day.
But still, the old ‘We all have days like that, it gets better’ comment was thrown back as if I was making a big deal out of just having an ‘off day’
But depression doesn’t let you just brush those remarks off, it grabs them and clings hold of them so tightly, and has them on constant repeat in your head.
Depression wants you to feel bad. It wants you to believe that not only is this crippling mental health issue really ‘just having an off day’ but that you are such a weak, pathetic, useless individual, YOU are the ONLY one who is being a drama queen about it. Depression also wants you to believe that not only are you not content with making your ‘off day’ something more than it is, (whilst simultaneously reminding you that you’ve become so hard to please that you’re not content with anything any more) it wants you to feel REALLY bad because you also had to bring EVERYONE ELSE down with you.
No matter how many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’, public comments or private messages, messages of support or others opening up to share their struggles. The ones who made negative comments were the ones that impacted me the most.
Despite the negativity, the soul crushing negativity, just knowing that my sharing of my struggles, was helping to pave the way for others struggling, to come forward and publicly open up about theirs, was just enough of a springboard to keep me going.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends, colleagues and clients for their understanding and encouragement each time I uploaded one of these photos on my social media accounts. I wish I could put into words just how much I appreciate your support and just how much strength it gives me to know that you understand.
As for the rest of you, I will keep posting and sharing my thoughts, feelings and emotions, via captions on my photos, for this message is to you, and all those who have yet to learn that feeling depressed and battling depression are two very different things.