Category Archives: mental health

Dealing with Darkness, a year later, two years in fact…

How many months or years can a photography project take?, is there a point where one can say “it’s done”?

Luckily in this dehumanized world some still keep their promises (though it took me longer than I expected).

Several weeks ago (in fact months) I told in a previous post I was going to share in this journal images about the toughest times since I suffered a second deep dive into the darkness of depression and anxiety which became the most evident around the end of November 2016 (to know more, please take a look at my post Taking off the Mask ). The hardest times I went through took place between the following December 2016 and January and February 2017. Two years later I’m still on the way to recovery, my life would seem normal from a distance however the process continues. Well, as part of this process here is the first group of images which was scheduled to appear months ago but, I really didn’t feel ready to take such an important step.

During those times the veil in my mind had not much place left for clarity, so most of the photos made during the hardest moments are not technically or visually good. This series of photos I now see as a visual essay of my experiences and struggles. Photography was and has been in the past weeks and months a way to cope with the extreme despair and desolation I was going through and my journey since then. Perhaps they are not pleasing to see, even now when I take a look at them two years later my soul gets down. More than that, while on the process of getting all of them into a visual and cohesive order I have found myself in a place really far from comfortable since they speak about an awful reality of tremendous suffering.

So, being around to 2 years after the darkest, and close to the holiday season of this 2018, though I’m far from being already free of my struggles with mental illness, having been through nice and bright times for some weeks, and through not really good ones (like the status I’m going through these days at times), but also with some signs of a certain degree of recovery (I’m able to write this in English and not in Spanish, my native language, for example), I now want to share this first group of images born between November and December 2016.

Before going ahead with the images, I’d really like to ask you to please stay tuned, I will be sharing more in following posts from the whole body of images. I’m seeing this as an exercise towards healing, an attempt to clean up my mind and soul a bit, as a means to exorcising some of the demons, trying to get my life to a new chapter, getting rid of the deepest shadows, really looking forward to better, healthier, brighter, happier times.

First days of November, a constant anxiety and a deep sadness are starting to be a constant presence in my mind and body.

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Despite heading out to search for some solace in nature and relief in alternative medicine with no results I had to be sent to ask for professional therapy. In the second pair of images: Me returning from my first date with the therapist whom in turn sent me to the psychiatrist for a very rigorous evaluation and medication, treatment for severe anxiety and very bad depression.

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Due to my condition I had no chance to go anywhere but to the therapist, sensory overload, sometimes a blurred connection with reality and anxiety made really hard for me to leave home, as a coping method I was using the camera to keep myself somewhat grounded, focusing on mundane motifs at home and in a field a couple of blocks away.

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December. Confinement, the side effects of medication and a desperation that burned the soul, I was eating almost nothing while living in a faded and distant world.

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The Holiday season, no true joy for me. I tried hard, I really tried.

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My immediate.

A world of bits and bytes. Isn’t it hard for the common people to tell success posing profile pictures and happy fairy tales from true life?

For me it’s mandatory.

At my long days at home (I don’t go out that much you know) I have to spend time away from the internet world and specially social media. For the good of my mental health I have to keep a connection with the real world and be aware of my surroundings. An act of making links with the things and phenomena around me helps me cope with shadows, and what better way to deal with shadows than with light?, so observation and sensing of light, things and beings in my proximity are something enjoyable or at least a soothing of uneasiness in my day to day.

This contact is best expressed in a recently started essay I call “My immediate”. A lot of fresh images can fall into this essay but also many of my older images I’ve made at home. Here I share a few ones.

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Restlessness recharge.

Void is not always there, and it’s not always your worst company…

The unstoppable flow from the mind, the chimes of each and every chain link breaking through the forehead bones that leave no place for calmness, for some quiet; not even inside dreams thoughts seem to get tired of being too noisy, the cascade of worries is countlessly adding to the uneasy, sleepless hours…

I’d just love to get some rest.

My company.

My company, my love, my joy, two little beautiful living beings where I can find trust and the sense of being among those who will never betray me. That is how I feel about my two cats.

Both of them have been with me for more than ten years now, since they were just cute little kittens, I really am so, so fond of them. I’ve watched them eat, play, go to the bathroom, and sleep countless times, all with the look of love in my eyes.

Film connection.

I know, months ago I had promised not to make a post about photography here, but what can I do?, it’s part of my life.

Before the very tough end of December and almost all January I had some chance to load some film on a camera I had just acquired. Why film?, being used to shooting only digital for almost 12 years, getting back to film requires more attention from my mind, focusing more on what I want to include in the frame and what not, composing better, being more aware of light, being more in the present moment, something that is so refreshing for mind and soul, so good for mental health.

These few images are from the roll I used to test the camera so I was even more concentrated on the things I was doing to get consistent results and to use the most of the camera’s features. Since I haven’t had the chance to travel for several months now, I like to share with you this brief selection, most in line with the theme that gives more joy to my soul, little details of the closest to Nature I have at hand close to home.

If you want to see more of my photography, film or digital, please go to my photography blog.

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Almost normal. The struggle of going out.

Almost normal, like the life of everyone else.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this, should I?

Mind and body playing tricky games with me lately, many of the things that should be on track are stuck, holidays are over, so the machine should be on full throttle right? Even here on the blog some posts should be already published by now, and they’re still pending… Inspiration, concentration, focus, energy, not very much on my side lately.

Now to the point.

Solitude, which turns into loneliness easily is something my psycho doc and my therapist have told me to strongly avoid. The latter has said: “don’t get locked at home, go out with some friends, to the movies, to museums, for a walk at a nice park…”. The idea is not bad at all, not so practical though: closer to where I live aside a few shopping malls there’s not much action, for that the Centro Historico (Downtown), Coyoacan or the areas between and close around from there are the way to go; talking about culture and art this area nearby is metaphorically speaking, dead really.

Not only that, I used to go to train rope access techniques one, two, or even three times weekly, the place is across the city from home, which can take, making use of suburban bus and subway, on the short, at least 1:45 hours, on the long, close to 3 hours!

I did it for years, never reluctantly, never feeling public transportation was not good enough for me, going training or other places, by myself.

Since late November 2016, for those who haven’t read about it here on this blog, when that bad depression and anxiety relapse came, the first months I remained locked at home with the exception of going with the doctor or the therapist, by car or with the aid of Uber once, just a few subway stations, picked up by friends and family on the way home. A couple of months later the idea of getting into the subway was still not pleasing at all, but I had to anyway.

Long before the darkest months, more than a year I think, taking the subway meant a small degree of uneasy, kind of anxious sensations, something to deal with… After the falling though it turned into a dark, confusing experience, a sordid trail. The long waits for the train to arrive, minute after minute after minute of facing somber thoughts and anxiety while surrounded, pushed, crushed by human masses, loud, really loud noises, the overwhelming load of people coming and going, chatting here and there, guys with huge loudspeakers selling “music”… unbearable cacophony…

Some degree of recovery has allowed me to go inside the dark alleys again but the fact is that getting in there is still not nice at all for me, so I try not to take the plunge that route. For months I’ve stayed at home most of the days, for me going out is a possibility of finding restlessness and exposing myself to very stressful moments, wether facing the city traffic while driving or making use of the “Metro” as we call Mexico City’s subway the sensory overload is something I’m not so used to anymore. In fact some have invited me to join them going making photos, to chat for a few hours or the like and I’ve had to decline more than once since the experience is not pleasing for me, nor is very healthy.

For long I’ve wanted to share this very short series of images of what that experience has been for me. I carry a camera almost everywhere I go, images are an easier way for me to communicate what I feel or think so I portrayed some of those anguishing moments months ago. The images are from February 2016.

New year, no resolutions.

The holidays are over, now we’re well into starting the new 2018. There were some moments of joy, sharing with a few friends and my closest relatives, for which I should be thankful.

In the latest weeks though my issues with depression and to some degree with anxiety have not been lucky at all, it has really struck me down very hard. As of today, I feel very weak, and not much in the like of eating, exercising or doing other things, in fact I do feel the holidays are: OVER, BACK TO REALITY.

In that mood for this new year I’ve made no resolutions, no goals list, all I hope for, all I really wish is that my mental health issues get better, and my photography projects get more on the nice path. I hope I will get to feel better, and then I’ll have time and energy to think about some nice resolutions. First I must gain some of the weight I’ve lost between December 31 and today:

Not bad for a guy 1.75 meters tall, not good at all either.

Next, my visual interpretation of that return to reality, after some moments of light a few days ago:

With all of this aside, I do wish you a very bright 2018 full of inner peace, health and success!!

Sparks igniting the warmth of the Holiday season.

Among darkness the light shines brighter. During the past few weeks I didn’t make much connection with the Christmas spirit, inside some of the bitter cold that have left the hard times I went through several weeks repeatedly along the year was still very much present in my soul and, though feeling that way is something I don’t like at all, it was a fact, and not a lot to do about it.

A few days ago a really dearest person invited me to go to a Mexican posada, a festive gathering to celebrate the journey of Virgin Mary and Jose to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. The songs, the breaking of the piñata, the lights, those bright and sparkling lights burning… I started to feel some very nice joy, a very warm, enjoyable joy. All of that united to get myself , my soul, my heart, into the vibe of the season.

May this holiday season, whatever you believe in, bring a lot of warmth to you and your beloved ones’s lives.

Best wishes, and Merry Christmas!!!