Being Creative with Depression

December 27, 2017

*Trigger warning: any and all of this could trigger. Be safe.*

I log into my email and the number of unread emails makes me cringe.

56 Unread Emails

I log into my Facebook Messenger and again, cringe.

23 Unread messages

I close both tabs and instead, grab a glass of ice water that I won’t drink because I don’t give a shit, my phone so I can anxious refresh and not read anything and crawl into bed that probably should have been cleaned last week. There I’ll stay for two more days. After 48 hours, I respond to those messages and say things like, “I’m so sorry, I’ve been SO busy.” But really, I just don’t want to say, “sorry this took so long. My depression was debilitating today. and yesterday. and the day before. Actually, this has been a couple years of battling this war. It’s all a pendulum. Thanks for your patience!

Hi, my name is Jenna and I suffer from extreme anxiety and depression that is directly related to C-PTSD. As well as issues and a multitude of ways to perpetuate self-abuse.

I thought about not sharing this. I mean, holy shit, who wants to hire a wedding photographer that sometimes trails off in conversations because her brain is considering 72 ways the day could end badly on top of the right pose for you so you look your best for the next twenty years in these photos you share on FB on every anniversary. No pressure, amirite?  But I also know I’m not alone in these struggles, especially in the artistry world. I know so many people trudging through the rest of this year, quietly struggling to smile while feeling like a black hole resides below their sternum. We push through, we survive.

The simple fact is that all of those listed issues above? Make me the kickass bitch that I am. When I show up to a wedding and wish I was in bed to sleep for twelve more hours…I push. I tell my weary brain to shut up and to give 110%. Even when my ulcer is so bad I can’t eat. Or I’m so stressed I vomit up everything I’m eating. Because that was legit my October and half-November. I almost went to the hospital…and decided not to go in case they made me stay, simply because I had a wedding to shoot twelve hours later. My dedication to my business is more important to me than my own health. And you know what?

My work is the best it’s ever been. I’m okay with that. I’m proud of that. The cost was almost worth it.

But I’m still climbing out of this hole. And I’ve made some mistakes this year, with my personal life and business. As a perfectionist, I struggle with making mistakes. I began to draw away from anything I deemed not necessary to my life, in fear of making more mistakes. The fear became debilitating, the anxiety so unmanageable I would lay in bed for hours, flooding my brain with dopamine from Facebook, sometimes even foregoing a shower or even went weeks without reading. Depression is a funny thing, the way it sometimes sneaks up and suddenly, your new normal is a cold blizzard and no matter how many layers you put on…you’re never quite warm enough but by that point, you’re just used to it.

The thing is…I just wanted to be open on my blog about this. Back in 2013, I wrote an “Honestly” series, where I decided my brand would be all about authenticity. It was life changing for me, finally being open about who I am. Unapologetically. Since then, the quality of my life, my clients, the humans I interact with…has been insanely improved on a scale I probably couldn’t do justice if I tried to explain.

My disabilities are not my main definition.

But…2017 was unkind to me. I was unkind to myself. I had these internal voices whispering, “why the fuck you still alive?” when things got too hard. Too often, I found myself at 1am, drunk and trying to find reasons to not swallow pills.

I’ve learned how to appreciate the smallest of small good things. My depression made me pause at sunsets more, to appreciate the five minutes of happiness when cuddling with my partner, to revel in the joy of cooking a meal. When a client paused during the middle of her wedding day, to share her gratitude at my openness about my depression on my Facebook…it meant the world to me. It helped me scrape through November, to finally claw through the next mental dig, working through sixteen years of trauma from my father. So I can take images like this one, at Kristin and Andrew’s wedding and draw extreme satisfaction from it all.
austin wedding photographer

2018 is coming up and I’m hopeful. I have tools in my arsenal I’ve never had before, confidence I’ve never experienced…contentment I didn’t know could exist for me. I’ve got a longer road coming at me though; I really want to tackle my PTSD aggressively. I’m starting PET in the beginning of the new year. But for now, for the rest of the year, I can’t wait to relax and take a mental hiatus from pushing myself. Learning how to not abuse or punish myself. I’m excited to meet myself when the dust settles.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far. And feel free to leave a comment of support, because the anxiety of writing and sharing this is super intense!

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