For the last year I've been trying to write a photography course based on my experience with film photography. In the last year I have taken less photos than ever. This has caused a slight problem in my writing experience as I'm sure you can imagine... in fact you've probably even noticed that I've been writing less here too.
My photography (and in turn my blog) has always been led by how I feel, how I feel about what I'm looking at, momentary flashes of inspiration and excitement that occur when I see something that I want to take a photo of. I never thought there was any rhyme or reason to the photos I was taking, I was driven by the search and they appeared.
I was wrong. I was, as I always knew deep down, searching for something, something much more specific than I originally imagined.
However, I still couldn't tell you the rhyme or reason, or what drives me to look, or even why I take the photos I do, and I definitely couldn't tell you what it is I was searching for... what I'm searching for now. But for the last year, an older part of myself - the part that wanted everything to go back to 'normal', to how it was - has been trying to dominate my photos - the part that didn't want to accept the seemingly unacceptable, the part that didn't want to let go of the past, the part that couldn't accept the pain, the changes and ultimately the ripples of consequences.
For the past year I've been fighting myself, and I won't lie - it has been brutal - and it's been showing the most in my photography, or my lack of photography.
But yesterday, as I walked out of the Doctors building, I realised that I was a very different person to the one who walked in that first day last December and I felt OK with that.
Which is huge.
I am different and the way I'm searching has been trying so hard to change with it but my older self was resisting it, as hard as I could - in fact I fought it to the last moment. Until yesterday I didn't even realise that I was fighting, not until the fight was over. I stopped fighting a number of things yesterday in accepting that I had changed, that things have changed, that life is different and will always be different... and even though there is still the (sometimes gut wrenching) pangs of sadness, regret and mourning, mostly I just felt relieved.
For the longest time, you feel you are defined by the fight - but it was always a losing battle - the changes in me were instant, I can even tell you the exact moment - it was the acceptance, the acceptance of it all, that was/still is the hard part. I might never truly accept it fully, I don't know. But I have started to accept it in a deeper part of myself and that's a huge step.
Once the fight was over though, the urge to take photos came back almost instantly, yesterday it was inspired by a word. Today it is inspired by sunshine. I can already feel the tug in my chest looking out the window and walking down the hill to work I spotted at least 5 things I would have taken photos of if I'd have the time (I'm always in a rush in the morning... urgh). It was the best walk to work I've had all year even though I didn't take any photos.
Looking through my recent photos, these three above in particular, I can see the changes were already seeping through. As I fought more often than not my inner drive won and my eyes were drawn to details they never were before, to textures specifically, to the broken, to the damaged - to the beautiful. My drive had accepted them all as a part of my creative identity, it was 'me' who didn't want to.
It seems odd to refer to different parts of myself here, and even words like 'inner self', 'drive', 'newer', 'older' and 'me' don't really explain it well but ultimately that's what depression feels like for me - an internal fight with no real definition. A fight of perspective, of thoughts, of what's real and what's not. A fight of emotions, of urges, of wanting to stay in bed but so desperately wanting to get up at the same time. A fight of clinging on, of letting go, of denying, of accepting.
Depression to me is a constant fight where you don't really know the rules, you don't know the outcomes, you don't know the opponents, or even what you are fighting for. In fact, most of the time I don't even realise that I'm fighting until a specific fight is over. But you are, you're fighting to get through, to get out of bed, to understand, to get to work (and stay there) and I know there will be another fight, I'm probably in one right now with myself.
But for now, I'm happy that I want to take photos again. That I have fought enough to get to this point. That I feel, just a little bit, like I'm winning the battle and ultimately, that all the fighting is worth it.
Camera: Olympus OM-10
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Location: Knaresborough, England
p.s. This post is huge, I didn't plan that, but thank you if you made it to the end, much love x