I’ve been depressed the past few days.
This is how my unique brand of disability works. I was in the bed for three days straight this week over the particular situation that has me upset. I realize that isn’t normal—- but that is the reason it is a disability– my body and brain don’t respond normally to situations like this.
So, I got the camera out for an afternoon. I am slowly getting back to the place where I really feel like the camera is a tool for dealing with my condition, rather than feeling like I have to push to be more or make more of my photography. I am taking more pictures for me, and it feels great.
Yesterday was a better day and I am firmly convinced that part of that reason it was a better day is because I had used my camera the day before. It is hard to describe but visually seeing the photographs I take and the reality I am surrounded by in pictures that I have taken does something to flip a switch in my brain. It really does change the way I view my reality.
Yes, I happen to think that the pictures I take are not bad pictures. But that idea is separate from what this exercise does for my brain. The art itself is a separate issue from the therapeutic value of the camera. A photo doesn’t have to be anything to write home about in order to have a positive effect on my mental state.
My camera is a great tool for fighting my depression. When I look out at my surroundings, all the information my brain receives directly from my eyes is colored with whatever feelings I am consumed by as a result of my emotional state of the time. As a result, my feelings about my reality end up colored by mental illness at times. However, something about the act of taking a picture and looking at the photograph after the fact disconnects the first-hand emotion behind what my eyes saw when I took the photograph. It allows me to remember the beautiful around me without the lingering emotional residue of mental illness. Photography allows me to see what my eyes see without the emotional attachment of things that often have little to do with my direct reality.
I can’t explain why photography works this way but it’s magic and it has literally saved my life more than once. It’s miraculous. It’s why regardless of whatever I ever decide about photography as a business, I will always have a camera.