"Behind every beautiful thing, there's been some kind of pain."
And when I am in the midst of battling my demons of anxiety and depression, I can take the tiny image that meets my eye through the glass and zoom in on it, forcing myself to focus on something interesting or stunning, to frame it, to perfect it. I click the button, and looking down at the tiny screen at the back of my camera, I inspect it to see if the image is clear, and when it aligns with what I envision my heart warms and all is right in my world. I created my own form of instant art, my own instant gratification. There is something about creation and beauty. We humans were made for it.
For me, depression is not a stranger. It is not a frequent visitor either, but it is recognizable, and I know the sound of its heavy footsteps as it approaches my door. It does not manifest in me in any way that is obvious to the outside world. I continue to go through the motions of living my life, I survive. I exist. And that's it.
Depression and anxiety are so insidious. They can spring up, like a poisonous weed, quick and unexpected. My genes combined with childhood experiences conspired against me, and there was little doubt I'd be wrestling with these issues for a lifetime. I know few survivors of childhood sexual abuse who do not carry the dark stain of worthlessness on their souls for years. It is something I have continually battled to overcome.
Melancholy is something I battle more often than full-blown depression. But it can be the precursor to true depression, and I find the most effective way for me to counteract the misery is to go find beauty, to create beauty; to express myself in writing and in images caught from a moment in my viewfinder and kept forever. My own little creations. My own form of validation that I'm here and I matter and my pain can be turned into beauty.
February and March were difficult for me. I made a big change in my life several months ago. It's a good change, a healthy choice, though difficult, and the transition made me sink into that dark, despairing, familiar place. I did battle with my old specters of shame and guilt. Old wounds were reopened. I had moments of weakness. I had moments of strength. And when I bought a new camera lens that I had been coveting, it gave me fresh reason to go out and search for beauty, even in an abnormally cold and bitter March. I searched for beauty. And it was healing.
I have found that there are gifts in being a person who, due to trauma and genetics, has known deep despair and hopelessness. Simple pleasures and beautiful moments are heightened and made magical. The desire to create and to express myself in writing and in photography take on an importance that would be unknown had I been a person of steady contentment, a person who lived an eternal spring in my soul. For when you endure a bitter winter, the spring is all the more magnificent.