Have you ever taken photos of someone and wished that it was you in the photo? That's how I feel about these shots I took of my friend Desi while we were hanging out on my 40th birthday. Not that I don't think she looks gorgeous in them, she is one of the most beautiful people I know, but I'm a little jealous. The collection I'm including here tell the story of my journey back to myself.
For the past 16 years I've been fighting a serious battle with depression. It began with the death of my mother while I was studying in Germany. I was lucky that I was able to go home and be with her when she died, but I never got the chance to say goodbye. By the time I had gotten home she was already in a coma and my family wouldn't let me see her alone. So I've never felt that I've said proper a proper goodbye. That guilt has lived with me for years. So much that for a long time I used to have dreams that she was mad at me for it. I know she isn't. My year of study in Europe was a dream of hers and since she was always ill, she lived vicariously through me. Her dying wish, she told my stepfather, was that after she was gone that I returned to Germany and finished out the year. Which is what I did. Only when I returned home, it was like she had just died the day before to me, while the rest of the world had moved on. So I retreated into myself.
I've never been one of those sunshiny kind of gals, but I've always creative and outgoing. My friends always likened me as a cross between Veronica in the movie Heathers and the basket-case in the Breakfast Club. That was part of my charm. After my return though, I was constantly an emotion wreck, and no one knew how to deal with me. Most of my friends just kind of faded away from me and my family told me to get over it. With the pushing of my family, I reluctantly tried anti-depressants, but they weren't for me. They did little for the depression, but they made me really sick. So I quit taking them. Not soon after I woke up one morning and decided it was time to leave. So I packed some of my belongings, turned my back on my family and move to Atlanta, with dreams of winding up in Athens, GA and becoming an Archaeologist. Shortly after moving I met my future husband and those plans to move the Athens soon faded away. I was happy that I had found someone who excepted me for all my issues (mostly because he had issues of his own that he can tell you about if he wants). He listened and cared about how I was feeling. It was exactly what I needed.
The years that have since passed, I wish I could say have been all cotton candy and rainbows, but they haven't been. We have had a lot of great times, but along the road to those time have been many detours of unhappiness on both our sides. Beside a brief break up, we had dealt with a miscarriage, the deaths of 3 of my grandparents and my father, a love/hate relationship with my in-laws and lots of personal demons belonging to both of us. Put it this way, we had enough baggage between the two of us to fill a cargo ship. Regardless of how choppy the water has been we've always been there for each other.
I had hoped that with the birth of my son that the hole that I had been feeling would be filled. That's a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of a baby, I realize that now. After Sage's birth, I didn't even think that I would have issues with post-pardum, but unfortunately the depression I had been feeling previously was only magnified. My husband travels for his work, and I was left with the baby all by myself most of the times. I was over-whelmed. I had estranged myself from my family and I really can't talk to my in-laws. So I had let everything build up, and since I was a party girl before I got pregnant I really wasn't as prepared as I thought for the change that bringing a little one in this world and caring for him would bring. I think the same went for my my husband, but I can't speak of his feelings. That is not my place. So needless to say the past few years have been tough. Don't get me wrong I was never Susan Smith depressed, but I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around.
This past year I have started reconnecting with my family, especially my sisters. This was what I needed. I've started feeling like my old self again. The me before my mother died. For a while that me didn't know how to meld with the me I had become. A big part of that was how I saw myself. When I met my husband, I weighed 110lbs and was a in great shape, but at Christmas this past year I weighed in at 182. I had gotten so heavy that even though I love photography and it has been one of my greatest healing tools, I would allow my photo to be taken except on special occasions. One night, when my husband was out of town and it was only me and Sage, I experience chest pains. Luckily it was only heartburn, but that was my wake up call. My mother died at 49 and my father at 59. There was so much that they have missed and I was determined that I wasn't going to miss those things in Sage's life. So I set out to change my life and in turn make Sage's life a better one.
So this year I've set out to change my life for the positive. To stop dwelling on the negative and try to bring a new light and life into my family unit. It was almost like I woke up one morning and the veil had been lifted. I found my motivation and strength within myself. It was like the ship had docked and the baggage was being uploaded. Not to say that I still don't have days. Everyone has those days. Only the good days have become more frequent than the bad days, and I'm starting to enjoy life again. I've kicked the smoking again. I've lost 50 pounds and I'm keeping it off. I've have found myself again through my photography and preforming live. I have a joke that I'm taking complete control and full advantage of my mid-life crisis. I feel better and more alive than I have in over a decade. For once I'm happy. I still struggle with the demons but I can look them straight in the eye and say "Eff off!" now.
There is still a lot more I can and will talk about. But for now I'm drained. Until next time.....