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How Photography Helps Me Fight Depression

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Finding words to describe the depths depression can take us can be difficult. It sure can be an unpleasant place to be. When the dark thoughts gather up around us, a sense of hopelessness and apathy can rise and it might feel like it will never go away. Add anxiety and it doesn’t only feel like we’re alone in a wasteland without directions, but it feels like we are simultaneously on fire while pushing our tears back. 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 of time when depression makes me feel like hobbies and interests are meaningless to engage in and anxiety frightens me too much to even consider pursuing them. I feel selfish for choosing to spend time on something I enjoy, as if I’m not worthy of it and should instead give all my time for the benefit of others first and always. Or anxiety hits with its fake reminder 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. This is when I really miss being out shooting pictures with my camera. What I’ve learned is I need to pay attention to those emotions and act on them. If I can manage to get out of the apartment with my camera in hand there’s so much to be gained.

When I photograph I usually stay out for hours. This means I breathe 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, there’s sunshine to take in. But really all weathers will do.

Often I choose to photograph in nature. Nothing beats the calm experience.

Sometimes I forget I’m depressed altogether, probably since I’m so focused on taking pictures. It lets me feel pure joy without analyzing or judging myself. I feel no worry.

When I capture an image I’m satisfied with, I feel 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 a big part of my walk in recovery is relearning. By this 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-sacrificing to such a degree that I erased my own will, my own identity.

Every time I’m pursuing photography, I take back parts of me I’ve lost. These are good experiences, moments to cherish that make life worthwhile.

I’m not meaning to make it sound easy. I know it can feel impossible to get back on track. But, we must believe 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 you’re ready, you’ll take another step.

If depression stole a hobby or interest from you, don’t give up getting it back. Even if it seems like 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 to do this is at your own pace. Take whichever step you can. You’ll get there, I promise.

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

I believe in you!

Contributor's hand in the air with camera

The author and his camera

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Image via Thinkstock 

Originally published: February 2, 2017
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