Inside this issue
On Staying Inspired
A moment fully appreciated is a moment fully lived
Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.
So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair. ~ Antonin Artaud/cite>
A few weeks ago, I accepted Alister Benn’s offer to “out” me as someone who struggles with depression. It was a bit uncomfortable, but now that it’s out of the way, and given current world events, I hope I can put my trials with depression and the lessons it taught me to some good use. For the sake of this article, assume that when I talk about depression I also talk about anxiety. As recent research suggests, depression and anxiety, despite being different experiences, are interrelated and often comorbid (occurring together).
Depression has been referred to as a “disease of modernity,” with rates rising consistently for some time, and more sharply in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure even positively-minded readers will have no problem coming up with many reasons rooted in recent events—political, environmental, professional, personal—leading to increased anxiety, sadness, and perhaps a sense of hopelessness.
In recent weeks I’ve received concerned notes from fellow photographers, and have answered questions publicly for a number of camera clubs, many asking about photography as a means to transcend the anxiety of the times and its demoralising effects, about ways to defeat a lack of motivation to pursue creative work and to rekindle joy in formerly rewarding activities in the face of mounting worries and troubling thoughts.
It’s no small irony that being as introverted and reclusive as I am, and having spent much of my adult years distancing myself farther and farther from human populations (my home now is, mile for mile, closer to outer space than to the nearest city), I somehow became a public figure. Likewise, harbouring a psychological disorder that predisposes me to frequent episodes of melancholy and depression, I may be an unlikely source for solace and encouragement. Then again, perhaps my unyielding faith in beauty, and my commitment to pursue experiences that elevate my being and give meaning to my life despite a constant struggle with darker moods, have given me a unique perspective on what it takes. This especially as common remedies and advice have generally not worked for me, forcing me to find my own.