Sometimes depression is like a minor headache; the kind you don’t need to lie down for, but it hovers over your day, irritating you and dampening things. I’ve felt the prick of depression recently, pushing at the corners of my mind and adding an unexpected film of gloom. It’s not enough to concern me, really, but I’ve wanted to push back. I found that energy in an unexpected place: photographs of my everyday life. I started a daily photo journal for depression and the gloom has gradually begun to lift as I recognized the everyday beauty surrounding me.
The weather is (finally) beautiful, sunny, and mild. I took a leisurely walk with my 2 year-old son yesterday and let him stop at every small thing that captured his imagination – birds, gnarled tree branches, dandelions begging to be blown, pinwheels in the downtown flower pots, cracks in the sidewalk. I found myself looking around with him and seeing the ordinary world in a whole new, joyful way.
I snapped a photo of the sidewalk leading up to our home with green branches hovering above the path, the sun glinting through their branches. Then I captured my son giggling at white dandelions blowing in the breeze. I looked up and saw my home peeking through the trees and felt such gratitude. Suddenly, I wanted to capture all of the small things I love – the diamond window by the kitchen, the horses heads leading up to the walkway, the pattern on the entryway floor. My photography skills were nothing special when I looked at the photos later, but finding and capturing the beauty around me brought an infusion of joy.
Depression has been my persistent companion long enough that I know it won’t disappear with a few photographs or a depression photo journal. But taking the time to just be, to breath, to walk, to take in the world around me, helped to gradually lift the gloom. I decided to take a walk each morning (even if it’s around the house, library, or store) and take photos of whatever captures my eye. I don’t need to print them or even keep most of them, but I could look through the lens and see the world, and my place in it, anew.
I can’t stress enough that this is not another project or something to be perfected. It’s a form of meditation and daily journaling to stop, breath and take in the beauty in the ordinary.