Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Camera, New Start

I did something irresponsible today: I bought an $800 camera with accessories on credit. I feel mildly guilty, but mostly relieved that I finally have a camera again. This camera isn't only an artistic tool I've been pining for over the last eight months...it represents my new start.

When I was 19, my dad bought me a Rebel XTi. It was beautiful. It was the most technologically advanced thing I'd ever owned aside from a computer, and it allowed me to tell beautiful visual tales of engagements and weddings and zombies and 1980s glamour shots. It came with me to Paris and Venice and to beaches and birthdays. It was my friend.

I sold it in 2010 to help pay for my wedding to Alberto. I had taught him photography, and he had bought a newer camera. We decided to sell mine so that we could have some extra money for the wedding and agreed we could share his. He traded up a few times and when we divorced, he had the Rebel T1i. It was a great camera, and of course, I had to leave it behind when we separated.

For the last eight months, I've been putting off buying a camera because money has been very tight. It's not any less tight now...in fact, it's probably more tight with trips to Chicago on the horizon. I find myself not caring. I've been pinching pennies for a while now, and I did well at it. And what did life decide I needed the money for? Pet surgeries and tick infestations and flat tires and doctors bills. Well, life, I have credit, so screw you.

Irresponsible? You'd better believe it.

Is this camera wonderful and beautiful and just what I wanted? Yes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Honesty #3

I am not feeling inspired to write, but I'm forcing myself on this one. I'm sorry if it's not as eloquent (pfft, ok) as my usual posts, but the words aren't flowing this evening.

I am a fraud.

For several years now, I have expressed my desire to be honest and transparent so that others could feel that their struggles were not theirs to bear alone. I've written about my drinking, wearing modest clothing, about the desire for love, and my issues with self-esteem. I even wrote about my divorce. Honesty has become so important to me because I feel that each person struggles day-to-day in their hearts and minds to figure out who they are, where they belong, whether or not the people around them care, and ultimately, the feeling that they are alone. All of these negative emotions and feeling of aloneness are perpetuated by a social system in which we repeatedly edit ourselves before sharing our lives with one another. We are no longer vulnerable. We strive to imitate the perfect personalities on television who never have a single hair out of place, or when they do have problems, they're glamorized and dramatized until we weep for them. It makes me angry, and yet, I fall for it again and again.

Here is a problem I'm having that countless people around me silently suffer with, and I have kept it a secret for the same reasons all of them have. Heaven forbid anyone sees me in any other state besides put-together, successful, and strong. It would be weak of me to openly talk to people about my mental health; it's not proper.

No. If I'm really going to live as I preach, I am going to tell you that I have been depressed for years. Not because I want pity (please, don't), but because this post is meant for those of you who also have depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorders and other mental illnesses that are stigmatized (hint: that's all mental illnesses).

You don't have to suffer alone. For the last few years, I was doing just that. I refused to believe what a doctor once told me when in college: that I was depressed. She offered me medication and I refused it. I was embarrassed. I refused to believe that I was so "weak." I would come home from work every day feeling defeated and angry for no reason, and I would take it out on my husband and my social life. I stopped wanting to go out. I stopped making art. I stopped writing. I criticized Alberto about everything he did that drove me crazy. I was unloving. When the divorce happened and I moved to St. Pete, I was suicidal for months. I came home from work, laid down on the couch, and didn't get off of it again until the next morning when I woke up for work. I met guys online and had a rebound fling. I was a mess.

And I told no one how horribly destroyed I felt. I didn't tell anyone that when I walked my dog in the park, I was replaying a scenario over and over again in my head in which a car ran the stop sign and put me out of my misery. I was embarrassed. I was afraid that whoever I told would think I just wanted attention. I was afraid that my hurts didn't matter because everyone struggled with the same problems. Everyone felt how I did, so why would anyone else want to hear about my problems?

If you are feeling depressed, deficient, apathetic, lonely, suicidal, angry, anxious, inadequate, unloved, or empty, I beg you to tell someone. Yes, many, many people feel the same way. Don't be afraid that your pain doesn't matter because you are one of many. The suffering of others has equipped them to comfort you in your time of suffering. Likewise, your suffering has equipped you to comfort others. Don't be fooled by the perfect personas on Facebook and Twitter, and don't be quick to judge when someone shows themselves as vulnerable. You could save someone's life, or at the very least, be a friend to someone in need.

Your pain is not a sign that you don't pray enough or love Jesus enough, or that you don't work hard enough, or that you did something wrong. Sometimes something chemical happens in your brain and you find yourself laying on your couch at 3am staring blankly at infomercials eating Breyers out of the carton with the big spoon. Sometimes you get tired of feeling so terrible all the time and want so badly to be like you used to be, that you give in and start taking prescription antidepressants. Sometimes you get so low, you only write an entry in your blog because your brand new therapist told you to.