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Creativity and Depression

First of all!

I started writing this post in January, but due to the heavy content and difficulty writing about this I am just now publishing it.

Happy new year!

This is my first post for 2018 and it is a bit heavy.. If that isn’t for you I suggest you visit me another day and see if I don’t have something a little more cheerful for you to read 😉

What is depression?

Well for me, my depression is a crippling feeling of nothingness that takes over my mind and heart, my motivation goes from flying to being bolted down in a dark and mouldy dungeon with scraps to eat.

OK, maybe a little bit over the top, but how else am I to explain this other than to say how it feels?

I’ve always been “odd” so to speak, at least compared to those around me. It’s always been easy for me to draw myself into a protective cocoon at home, lay in bed and simply shut down. My first memory of this is since I was 11 or 12 years old or so, I was being made fun of at school and I just, broke down.
Went home, crawled into bed without taking my clothes off or anything, just hid under the sheets and hoped the world would go away.

I’ve had my brushes with rock bottom as well, at least three times in my life. Where I just thought that the world would be fine without me in it, what was the point anyway? I felt I was nothing and I didn’t deserve anything good.

What changed?

Well, first of all, if you have had any of these feelings or thoughts don’t give up. What helped me was that what I thought at first to be a bad thing, one of my many flaws that I always saw in myself. My stubbornness!

I decided that I wouldn’t let anything get me down, nothing was going to stand in my way of getting what I wanted.. You know the mantra right?

But even that didn’t keep me from getting fits of depression on and off. Today I am on medication, anti-depressants, and I say proudly that I’m psycho! I take that word and make it a good word for me, I won’t let the world or anything else tell me it’s a bad thing.

I still get depressed mind you, I’ll never be completely free of these demons, but I can live my life pretty well even after all I’ve done and all I’ve lived through.

So what about creativity?

Well, here is the main point of this whole rant, the creativity.
As a photographer, or any artist for that matter, it can be a crippling thing to have depression and live in eternal fear that you aren’t good enough for anyone. I might have overcome my fear of criticism but I’m severely crippled in visualising what I want to do and even to just get off my ass to do something in general.

By looking over the last two years on my Flickr stream I can clearly see how little I’ve shared with the world. I’ve been doing a lot of commercial photography, private photography sessions with clients and so on (all of which I love), but I haven’t been shooting like I did way back. I’ve been doing less and less photography for myself.

So what can you do?

That’s what it boils down to, there’s always something one can do right? Like almost everyone with depression has had the unfortunate experience with, there is always that person who says: “common, just smile then it’ll be ok!”; like it’s just a simple band-aid that can be ripped off the skin and everything will be all right. But it isn’t always so easy, not just doing the thing that helps but to actually find the thing that helps.

In my case, I carry a camera everywhere I go, my ex-wife even told me at a time that it was odd to see me go to the store to pick up a couple of cartons of milk with my camera in tow. But although I carry it everywhere, I haven’t been using it that much lately, but that’s about to change!

Lately I’ve decided to do something about this personal rut. I’ve been busy with life of course, bought an apartment, got a wonderful girlfriend among other things. But now it’s time to grow the artist in me. Summer is (almost) here in Iceland and the nature is awaiting my eyes and lenses. I am trying to photograph more in my personal life as well, but not using my phone but by using my cameras.

I’ll leave you this portrait taken at an ice cream parlour just this weekend of my girlfriend (on the right) and our friend.