Week 13: Gatlinburg Photo and Some Ideas on Depression

So I have been sorting through my camera SD cards as I can.  I have lots of pictures to go through but slowly and surely I am getting rid of the pictures that are not any good and finding the gems inside.  They say you can take several shots (sometimes in the hundreds) to find one or two that are professional worthy. 

So I have been going through the pictures that I took in Gatlinburg and I came across this picture.  It is from the cabin that we were in (we were at the top of the hill).  I took several shots from that balcony but this little gem was tucked away.  It is, by far, a favorite of mine.

The clouds and fog were amazing but I remember I was attempting to get a shot with the sun just peaking over the mountain.  It was just a beautiful scene to watch let alone photograph.

So this week on the sight I am doing a 52 week challenge with other photographers, it was close up week.  I've done a shot similar to this but I have gotten a little better with flash and I just wanted to have a little fun in the studio.

This was a fun shot.  3 manual flashes, no modifiers for hard lighting, and a toe on the remote trigger so I could focus and get the shot.  Yes, I am getting good at using my toes to fire off my remote trigger! 

 So can we talk about depression for a minute?

So had a meeting this week which was not only very productive but had a very open discussion not only about depression but about personalities with depression.  In short, some people have different personalities and some people also don't suffer from depression so they can empathize with what those of us with it go through, but the thought process can be foreign.  Being an introvert and suffering from depression you tend to keep everything in.  Having lived with this condition for years and yet actually managing my mood, I have learned coping processes and having a support system to help with the cycles that I go through.  There was one person in the group that was where I was years ago.  Every word, every thought, every action I could relate to because I had used those very words, had those very thoughts, and done each of those actions.  I have run from responsibility, procrastinated, and used varies things to cope.  I also know the difference between suicidal for attention and being suicidal for real. 

When you are coming out of the fog, or at least trying too, life can be overwhelming.  This isn't an excuse, this is reality.  It does not excuse staying where you are especially if you have a support group or people willing to help.  But for those of you trying to help someone who is in depression I have a few thoughts as well as for you who are depressed.

So depression sucks.  It really does.  There is a lack of interest and sometimes there is a tendency to find those things that bring us joy and immerse ourselves in that to block out the world.  Unfortunately this keeps us depressed.  Because once we come out from that thing that brought us joy the reality of life is back.  So I like to tell people to start making daily goals.  Something positive that is going to bring you to goals you may have.

Speaking of goals, let's talk about long term goals.  Long term goals can be overwhelming to an introverted depressive person.  Especially if there is a whole lot to do.  So you have to take these things in small bites.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Forget the pull your boot straps up and jump forward gung ho (you will get overwhelmed).  Small goals lead to bigger goals as you find that you are moving onward and upward.  It is okay to say, I want a better job.  And there may be 10 steps to get there.  For the depressive, it is important to focus just on that step you are on.  For those who are supporting, it is helpful to keep us on task to that ONE goal.  After all, if you don't finish that goal, the long term goal will never happen.  And it is okay to set long term goals and say this is where we want to be.  But pushing will result, usually, in pushing back or being shut out.  For those who are extroverted or those that are very task oriented, this can be a very hard concept to grasp.  You know, just do it.  But they have no idea the weight the depression causes.  And remember, this is a chemical imbalance.  Let me say this again, CHEMICAL IMBALANCE.  Your trying to reason with chemicals.  When Ginger is in the midst of an episode we have a saying, when you try to reason with someone in the middle of an episode it is like trying to explain quantum physics to a rabbit.

That said, even in depression, especially if you know you are, you ultimately are responsible to manage your mood.  I have many friends who deal with depression.  Those of us who are successful have a support group.  Some of us are on medication, some are not, some cannot be (I am one of those).  We have people that we can talk to and share our very crazy thoughts we have at times or the funk we are in or how life just sucks.  We have people who keep us accountable and encourage us.  And we have those of us who love us enough to not want us to stay where we are.  And that support group does not mean it has to be a depression support group, though it does not hurt.  It helps to have at least one person who knows depression so knows what you are going through, but church, community group, coffee group, hobby group, etc can be that group.  What is important, and hear me dear depressive one, you have to be open and honest with those you trust.  Finding those that you trust can be hard, but listen, once you find them, hold onto them.

Another thing, dear depressive.  When those that love you and want the best for you try to help you with your goals, listen to them.  If you have fears, express them.  If you feel overwhelmed, speak up.  And those of you helping, listen.  Don't try and fix, please, just listen.  Sometimes we need to hear these words coming out of our mouths.  Ginger taught me this.  I can be a fixer.  And Ginger taught me sometimes she just wants to get it out.  I have talked about my own experiences and how I have gone from having a bag of belongings to where I am now.  I had people that would push, gently, when I began to stagnant.  I had to work in places that I wasn't too happy with.  I worked on a landscape crew, $9.00, 12 to 13 hour days, walking into a place that wasn't mine, collapsing on my bunk.  But I did not want to stay at the ministry that I was at forever, I wanted my own place.

Now my depression comes in cycles.  Sometimes at work, when everything is getting changed hourly, my depression can flare and my anxiety.  The tendency for me is to want to run as far away from it as possible.  But I have learned to stop, pray, and just let God give me the first thing I need to do.  Do that thing and He will reveal the next step.  It requires a tremendous amount of trust of God but when you see this process unfold, your faith is bolstered.  But each job I have had since being in recovery has been better than the last and God has taught me in each one.  I am put in situations that I do not want to be in.  But I am blessed to have a wife I can share with and who will pray for me during the day for God to help me.

For those of you who are loved ones of a depressive you may ask, how can I help?  First of all, boundaries.  Helping someone who is a depressive can be challenging.  If they are not willing to help themselves, you cannot force them to help themselves.  It is one thing to be an encouragement and another to be an enabler.  If you have depression and you want to stay in the pit when people are trying to help is your right, but don't expect people to stay in that pit with you that you are staying in on purpose.  Also, it is important to listen.  If a person who is depressed actually begins to talk, interrupting them, or trying to over talk them, at least for me, will shut me down.  I don't talk a lot in groups I am not comfortable in.  It takes time for me to trust.  But when I begin to open up the easiest way to get me to be quiet is to jump in with another thought.  Let them get it out.  And if it gets silent for a minute, don't worry, that is the moment you can start talking.

Ask questions and keep us, as depressive's accountable.  And depressives, allow those you trust to ask questions and keep you accountable. This is a journey, for both of you.

Now the good news.  Can you live a successful life with depression?  Yes.  A BIG yes.  My hobby, photography, I actually use to help my depression by expressing my feelings and thoughts through pictures.  It is great therapy.  My wife is one of my biggest support people.  And I have some people outside of my marriage that are support for me as well.  Both are important.

Let me say a little something about family.  My family is part of my encouragement team.  My Mom is my encourager and my Dad is a huge source of spiritual and life wisdom.  And sometimes they give me that gentle push when I need it.  I love them both very dearly.

I write this to encourage and help.  These are my experiences.  You may have different ideas or experiences.  These are mine.  But if they can help one person then the words I write have been successful.



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