Category Archives: mental health

Still some of winter remains in August

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Now the summer is full on. Greens are everywhere, rainy nights, beautiful mornings, still inspired by a music album by great icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, from whom I’ve come to know and listen his great music in the recent months, I have the ability to realise that there is some of the past Winter roaming in my bones, in my thoughts…

At times, the colours are not so bright, the Sun shines outside, but my skin filters some of its light and warmth…

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MHAM in the spotlight!

How I really think days should have 240 hours!!

I guess you are scratching your head wondering about the meaning of MHAM, just a minute!!!

Will to Live MHAM

Recently the days are passing by so fast, and with so many things to do!! Half of May is already gone! May is Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) in the US, with lots going on, and the movement spreading around, still, there’s still so much to do!!

Raising awareness about mental health issues is of trascendental importance. The lack of understanding and the stigmas around the topic still make a lot harder already very hard lives, resulting in segregation, isolation, and even discrimination of those who live in darkness, making it so much more difficult to look forward recovery and healing. Many of the people who struggle with mental health disorders keep for themselves the suffering because of fear, fear of being misjudged, rejected and stigmatised, so they hide the pain and desolation inside until its no longer bearable and it becomes a dark monster so huge and uncontrollable that it devours the persons life, or takes it completely away, making it impossible to hide. Raising awareness also means helping society understand that mental health disorders, are just like diabetes, like cancer, like obesity, like allergic reactions…

During my last fall into darkness several months ago, I tied a green ribbon around my wrist, representing my will to live, to keep fighting, every day. A couple of weeks ago I learned that the green ribbon represents the mental health awareness movement (could it be coincidence?). I want this image to be a symbol of hope, of limitless endurance, of the importance of not living with pain in a silent loneliness and of the right we have of sharing our story and being embraced and understood, of the strength needed to fight everyday… a symbol of Life! With this image I want to raise my voice towards ending the stigmas around mental health disorders, in favor of a better comprehension, in favor of spreading the knowledge among the society so everyone finds that they are able to aid those living in pain and despair recover better and sooner, to live better lives, with empathy, love and compassion.

Less than the half of May left, and still so much to do!!!

Duel of Fates

I’m my life there has almost always been the prescence of some sort of fatality. My dreams have been obscured by something that has gotten in the way, the causes are several and not completely clear to me, yet… Since my fall into darkness last November, when despair and desolation began to fade a little my mind and soul have had the chance to untie some knots in the deep, now I’m on the process of coming back to life and I’m working on finding the strength to build a different and much better future for myself. My fate until now, an almost continuum of failures, deceptions, broken projects and promises, that’s a fact, the dark branches of a twisted tree, against this fate, there’s another fate yet uncertain and somewhat diffused like leaves disappearing in the mist, but a fate that my will to live will shape solid and strong nonetheless! The duel between these two is soon about to begin…

The Right to reach for the Sky.

I’ll say it once again! Is anyone capable or with the right to judge someone else as “not normal” or “not worthy”?!

Calakmul, Mexico. Kingdom of the Divine Lords of the Snake.

Amazed by the inmense lushness of the forest surrounding the ancient Maya constructions and more than anything the trees growing on top, a special encounter inspired me the following thoughts:

Sitting, waiting, a turn of the head and there he was, twisted…

Awkwardly extending his trunk and branches upwards and sideways,

A messy and hairy cover that played with the clouds…


Weird he might seem to many, there by himself, with roots deep,

Below what human hands built centuries ago.

For sure I know, for my soul tells me, one of the special ones he is,

Different he is, and wise too, a lot he has been through,

And the right to reach for the Sky he has too.

Over a sea of light.


My boat sails safely over a sea of light,

everything is going really fine,

the water’s surface is calm and the journey is enjoyable,

everything is going really fine…

So confident, so naive, 

illusion, just an illusion game played by the Dark,

just an illusion for you to enjoy you little kid, 

this beautiful light is only a reflection, a vision…

 the deep, dense shadow is still there,

chasing you from the air but even more so, 

below your little boat of happiness the vision hides it…

Oh you poor kid,

so confident, so naive,

The Deep Shadow is still there, ready,

to make your little boat sink…

Color and light among the remains.

Green traces of life emerging from the dead remains on the forest ground, in the like of which my mind and soul come out sometimes from obscurity to shine for a little while.

Finding scenes like this in Nature remind me of Life’s abilities to keep renovating itself one time after another. It also tells me that it’s possible to find light even in darker places, light that allows me to keep on going ahead through the deepest and most light deprived stages of my inward journey.

Taking off the mask.

(Posted previously in Spanish, now a version for my followers who do better with english since the google translator in some parts alter the meaning of what I truly like to convey to you)

What do you think? Is it always possible to easily distinguish one color from another, or, going even further, can anyone give this color a clear and specific name without fear of being mistaken or entering into controversy with someone next to us who is seeing the same color but dissents from our opinion ? Maybe some will think so, but many more will agree that no one sees the colours exactly the same way as the others, so, if we can not have a certainty about a simple color, how can we judge the value of a person by just taking a glance at their clothing, their way of living, their family members or economic circumstances, or some of their character features or physical appearance ?!

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This article is not about photography or travel, or adventures in caves as it had been in the past, this time I write in order to initiate a process of healing, liberation, sincerity with life. I do not pretend to generate reactions of any nature, much less commiseration, if anything, I aspire to a better understanding of the past and present course of my life from those who can and are interested in doing so, and mainly to achieve myself a somewhat deeper understanding of my life.

Encouraging myself to share this has been a very hard and conflicting decision, the following I write comes from the deepest of my own self, and being about what it is about, prejudices and stigmas will soon disturb some. Now I’m not worried about it anymore, if there are those whose short sight, closed mind or ignorance prevents them from understanding, I really don’t care.

Sooner or later the soul seeks its way, when adversity shows its meanest and most eroded face it can break down even to the deepest foundations. They say that difficult situations are when opportunities present in their greatest, so I do have the hope that the opportunity is enormous in the current state that my life is in.

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The clear and timely opportunity that does present to me is to set fire to the facade that obstructs the view of my true Self, before me and before the others. The continuos burden of keeping to myself some secrets, pretending to be a “normal” (who has the right to give a definition of what normal means?) person have charged a very high fee on me, I can no longer carry that load so it’s time to uncover the “crickets pot”, open the Pandora’s box and show myself with no mask before everybody, and above everything else before myself, facing all my ghosts.

The struggle every day to find reasons to get out of bed and show a smile on my face to others, trying to appear like a normal person full of joy and enthusiasm generates a constant and harsh battle inside me. Only a few ones know that almost 10 years ago I found myself submerged in a sea of extremely dense blackness, from some people who knew about it I received rejection and discrimination, so I decided to hide a truth that I can not silence anymore, despite the consequences that revealing it now may bring.

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In May 2007, without warning, I fell for several weeks in an abyss of complete darkness, anguish without measure, moments of terror and a continuous anxiety, an anxiety that burns the flesh and corrodes the soul. In those days I lost almost completely my connection with the world, crawling through the bottom of a murky, dark place almost out of all sanity from where I felt I would never return. Being almost to the point where my body did not accept any food, night after night with no sleep at all, going through the creepy sensations that generated the medication in me, then, only a voice, a survival impulse, a primitive will, the most basic instinct to live, to keep breathing threw me a rope to get out of the abyss. That same impulse made me get up early from bed after endless nights of soaking the sheets with the sweat that shapeless terrors squeezed from the pores of my skin. I do not remember well how it happened, I only recall the image of being already outside the house with the imperious need to perceive the warm touch of the rays of the Sun, and trying to calm a very intense anxiety I tried to pick up some of the world with my eyes, breathing in the aromas and colours, the textures of the leaves, the flowers, watching with a limited and diffused vision as if standing into a dark a tunnel the smallest detail, every touch of light on a leaf, following with my fingertips the plant’s stems, the petals, longing to feel some life as I struggled to expel the despair and the feel of death from each of my cells.

Fading

I lived days and weeks of intense anguish, desolation and deep confusion that inhabited my mind and my body, however against all of those symptoms the medication did not seem to offer some relief, rather on the contrary, so, when my desire to live dissipated the clouds a little I decided to leave the medication and started fighting the anguish and some of the confusion – a feel that was similar to having the sensation of having the head imprisoned between some great pliers- with a lot of willpower and strenuous routines of exercise, routines so exhausting that helped me to get a few hours of sleep.

After several weeks more there was a slight improvement, and even then I knew I needed something more to get my health and my life ahead. Months before my existence crumbled to the ground I had already decided to take a mountaineering course, I knew that there was a path for improving and healing, and I signed that October to a course of 3 months. Trekking and hiking through forests and rivers, climbing our mountains, rock climbing, going through the depths of the Earth, camping in contact with Nature, the doses of adrenaline, all that was for me a lifesaver, and something that since then I enjoy really a lot, that I love doing, and something that I can’t think of living without. Other more physically and technically demanding courses followed and in months I considered to be free of that terrible stage in my life, that fearsome ghost, of which in months and years I did not want to hear or read anything about because of the such a cruel experience I lived and the terrible memories that came to my mind. Nor did I want to talk about that in years thinking that it was already a thing of the past, where I tried to bury it forever.

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Events of the present have made me realise that I never fully healed. The facts of the last months have confronted me with this reality, which, however hard it is to know and face, it opens the door for me to be free at last. How did I come to those conclusions?, without being as cruel as the episode of 2007, I have suffered a recent and very hard return to the shadows, to the confusion and to stand again in front of the infamous face of anguish and desolation. It has been months ago that the descent into darkness was coming, possibly more than a year in which within my being it began to spring an unavoidable rebellion against the heavy and hurting burden I have been carrying for so long.

In 2007 the doctor who attended me was too meager and negligent in the study of my case, fortunately the psychiatrist – yes, psychiatrist – who helps me since November, when seeking the help of one was already unavoidable, has done an in-depth analysis of many factors, physical, physiological, emotional and behavioral along my life. From everything the Dr. and I could deduce, it came to light a terrible but likely encouraging truth: since I was a very young child, or perhaps since I was born I have been living under that yoke, since then, lacking that childlike joy, always with a latent anxiety, a diffused fear without being able to recognise the source of a tangible danger.

How much can a person’s life be affected by a neural chemistry mismatch? !!! Serotonin, dopamine … a medicine school’s classroom words, harmless until they echo in your ears in the psychiatrist’s office, when he puts before you that fearsome statement, followed by a cold silence…

A forest near Jilotzingo, Mexico. November 2016. ©Eduardo Mendoza.

Yes, the signs of a condition -chronic already- of anxiety and depression have been there for most of my life, lack of concentration, too few encounters with enthusiasm, and more recently, my distractions, the lack of memory, slow but steady weight loss and muscle mass, a certain degree of confusion in some situations, difficulty in handling stressful situations, digestive disorders, difficulties to keep a conversation going on, headaches, and many other things, the list is long and affects so much …

In 2007 I tried to get ahead by myself with a lot of will, a sport lifestyle, and the best attitude I was capable of. After almost 10 years I have realised that these efforts have not been enough, that the shadow has been always along with me to a greater or lesser extent all this time and that I may have to take medicines that will help my mind for the rest of my life. Now I also know that many ghosts that come out from my past make worse that disorder in my brain, and that I must confront them, send them light and let them go. I said above that the truth was also encouraging, yes, since although a hard battle appears before me, I know that in the end I will win and I will be free at last!

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I also think it is pertinent to share that much of the photographic work that I have been doing, especially the one I’ve done in recent times has much of its roots embedded in these experiences. From the prevailing need to reconnect with the world was born contemplating and capturing in images that little world, flowers, details of leaves, insects, what lies hidden on a forest ground… that one we rarely pay attention to, but that it keeps wonders to those who know how to look or is in need to understand the miracle of Life. Likewise, finding delight in staring at the immensity of the great mountains, at the huge plains as far as the eye can see, at the strokes of light through the trees canopy, at a sky crowded with cotton-like clouds , or looking for the essence of my surroundings in visual compositions that seek to convey, be it simplicity and minimalism, or the great complexity of Nature’s Creation, all of this fills my being with something special that drives me to live and that I seek to capture and transmit through my vision, a sensitive vision since yes, I am very sensitive to the stimuli, to what I experience of the world and the people, good and bad, which on one hand it’s a disadvantage, since the rough or aggressive can affect me more than it affects other people, and on the other hand, it is a blessing, because it opens my conscience to the beautiful, noble and admirable.

Facing the future.

The picture above seems to me to be very adequate to what I am going through now, most of that horizon is hidden behind dense and dark clouds, and yet it is possible to discover beyond the clouds a clear bright sky, to which I hope I will be able to get after finally unfolding my wings, rising from the ashes and getting rid of the deep shadows in which I have spent most of my life.

I do not think I can say anything else, in these weeks when my life, my mind and my soul have had to be reduced to the essential, the most basic, and now that the confusion has diminished a little, I have been able to get to some conclusions, to make some decisions and understand a little more of the road I have traveled in my life and some glimpses of what direction I should direct my footsteps from now on. What it does remain a mystery to me, is how will be that person, that Eduardo free of shadows and with a fulfilled soul, the bright and shiny Eduardo, full of Light. I really would love to have an idea, a small clue about it, I will wait until that happens, I hope I will be able to be patient, until now nobody has met him, in my whole life not even myself has met Him!!!

Will to Live