Wow, it feels like FOREVER since I finished my last piece! This year has not been conducive to creating art. I’ve done my best despite the circumstances which kept popping up (moving, medications, long ME flares, devoting a ton of time to the gallery show, stress from my recent battle among other things) but it’s felt like a very dry year creatively. All I can do is my best though, and even when the ME really cramps my style, I still manage to get pieces finished… just much more slowly than I would like.
It was in this depressed feeling of “I haven’t created anything in the longest time imaginable” that today’s image was born. When my regular creative outlets are blocked to me (by, say, solid weeks of migraines as I adjust to each new medication dosage), I become despondent and depressed. Life slowly loses its flavor and color and if I’m not careful, I’ll sink into a pit of despair just like Artax in The Neverending Story. Luckily, I have Geoff and my friends and family around to cheer me on and make sure I never sink too low, but much of it is outside of anyone’s control.
As I mentally pictured how I felt, this was it. A big, ugly cloud of despair, depression, worthlessness, swirling around my head. But this time, unlike my last self portrait which explored a similar theme, I wanted to show a bit of hope at the same time. The cloud is surrounded, penetrated and pierced by beautiful, golden rays of light. They stream in through the darkness, weaving through its thick blackness. The darkness cannot survive in the light. It will be broken up and dissipate. And while I know this will probably not be my last battle with depression, I also know that each round will eventually be over… and once again, the light will have won. That is the hope I cling to when the clouds cover me.
I’d like to mention my friend and very talented photographer Robert Cornelius’s Dust to Dust series as it provided some inspiration in my planning out of the darkness cloud. Thanks, Robert! 🙂 He’s an incredible photographer and all-around cool dude, so check out his work if you’re not familiar with it!
This image belongs to my Eternal Storms series on depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. These topics are still seen as quite taboo to discuss, something I hope to help with by portraying what living with them is like openly and honestly. Silence and shame never helped a single illness get cured. We need to be able to speak openly about our experiences, without judgement or fear, if we’re ever going to healed from them.
Do you have depression? Try being a little more honest next time a trusted friend asks how you are. You don’t have to go into excruciating detail, but try to avoid the temptation to simply answer “fine,” unless you actually are. And if you have friends or family who you suspect or know suffer from any kind of mental ailment? Invite them to tell you about it, ask some questions, assuring them that talking to you is safe and you will not judge them or call them crazy. It is crucial that you answer whatever they tell you with love. It is incredibly hard for people to open up and talk to others about these problems, so take their trust very seriously and treat it with the gentlest and greatest respect.
As we approach Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for the help and support we have. For the people dedicated to helping us win our fight. For the people who will listen to us with only love and understanding in their hearts. The people who give us hope. The inner strength we are able to find when we think we’ve exhausted it all. Those extra beams of light when we need them the most. We need more people like this in the world. Let’s try and all be them to each other. The simple fact that there are people in the world who try to reach this goal is something I am very thankful for!