Tag Archives: Struggle

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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In my dreams…

In my dreams there are sometimes that Life seems a bit real, a vanishing, ephemeral illusion…

I cannot linger…

.

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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.

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.

The greatest possible happiness.

“…You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer.

If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer…”

V. W.

A foot in front of the other 

Is it possible to see the light after being crawling into darkness?

It’s been about a year since a mind collapse struck me the hardest in November 2016 after almost another previous year the symptoms that something wrong was about to happen were arising. I’ve learnt so many things, I’ve been through several ups and downs, feeling better and then relapsing… at times I’ve felt as if I could fly, at times I remember that even placing one foot in front of the other is like hauling around a ton of iron chains…

Photography has been a translator of my mind and soul during the hardest times, in the following days I will be sharing here and on my personal instagram account a sort of photo essay which includes many of the images that tell my journey.

An hour and a half for feet fixing.

How long can it take to take care of a few toe nails?

No, my blog has not turned into a fashion-lifestyle kind of blog!!!

Simple life events can take on a new level in the mind and heart when seen in context. In a recent article I paid homage to my brother’s endurance and everyday strength coping with the sequels of his motorcycle accident long ago with a series of images from I think 2006 until the recent months. In a way, this is a follow up of 27 later.

The event that triggered the idea, well, what really put it in motion, ’cause the idea has been rolling in my mind for years, is the minutes I spent with him in one of his frequent visits to my parents’s house, where he spends one or two nights almost every week when his work implies him to visit some clients in Mexico City (my brother lives in Cuernavaca’s suburbs ) or further ahead to the north of the country, and in that way he can spend some time with us. On a morning at the beginning of last December he was taking the time needed to take care of his feet in order to still be able to walk, and get them rid of hard skin and calluses from certain areas, and mainly from his toe tips that are a consequence of some deformations caused by the way he walks since he had that awful accident 27 years ago. The task is by no means easy, and it takes time, he even has to be answering calls from his office and clients in the meantime!!

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For the majority going through feet care is nothing extraordinary, and what really struck me the deepest that morning (not that I don’t think about it every time I watch my brother struggling harder) is the extra effort and time that takes for him something most people take so easily for granted, something so easy as walking.

As I said  before, my brother’s spirit for life is a great inspiration for me, and when he comes and stays here it seems that days are clearer! When I made those pictures that day I was really deep into darkness, in a state of constant fear and confusion because of depression and anxiety even though I was already under the watch of a psychiatrist and a psychologist working in therapy. And again, he was here with his everyday life, so I was a little better, and to complement that, since one of my best therapies is photography I was carrying my camera here and there, and when I contemplated the scene, my brother’s actions, the light entering his room and falling on him, reflecting on what was going on at those moments, being more sensitive as I am, especially in times of mental crisis like that one, I grabbed some slices of that reality, from those I made a selection, which I’m really glad to share here.

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I’m so fortunate to make use of camera and images to deal with the world around me!!

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27 later

Feet fix

On may the third its been 27 years that our family was deeply shaken. My brother, Octavio, had a motorcycle accident ironically a couple of blocks from home and ironically, he wasn’t driving fast that day. Since the first moment I found him lying on the ground he was not able to move any part of his body anymore but his eyes and mouth… he had simply broken his neck.

At the hospital they said he was going to die, there was nothing to do, however, he was taken into surgery on May 11th, eight days later!!! The odds were to dark, the procedure could result in 80% to 90% of chance of death, if not, a vegetative life, and at best, living but only able to move from the neck and upwards, for a time…

His case is archived as a miracle in the hospital, they are not sure how he was able to move his body again with some time, and even walk and lead a relatively normal life!!! His life and ours here at home was for months and months a tough struggle but it was for sure so worthy! Some muscle and organ sequels remained but really a piece of cake compared to the drawing that future gave us that May of 1990.

My brother has lived with the physiological and anatomical sequels really bravely, a true fighter all in all! Here I feel honoured to pay this homage to his endurance and strength, an acknowledgement from my part for being such an inspiration in my life, for keeping up with life with such a burden in his back. Those who have read this blog lately know that I have recently discovered I’ve carried my own burden for so long, one that is invisible, but real. My own struggle continues and sometimes almost unbearable, for those times watching at my brother’s spirit is the number one anchor to keep myself linked to life.

This homage made of images is born from becoming sensitive and reflecting about the essence of things taking into account the life my brother leads and a moment in his daily activities that happened here at home in one of his frequent visits, this idea came to me a few months ago, when I was at the bottom of my place in darkness, struggling with depression and anxiety, and even from there I was able to be struck by what was evident in my own images. From that day here I show only the image of the foot fixing, the others were made in previous years since 2006 (the ones from the days of the accident are somewhere else) trying to compile moments that show my brother’s quality as a life warrior.

Now, why after 27 years, why not wait for, let’s say the 30th anniversary?, what happened to him, and from my own experience, I surely know life can not be taken for granted, it can slip away in a fraction of second, and not me neither anyone else can be sure when our time here is over.

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.