Why I Stopped Taking Photos

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I want you to think about that one special skill you have. Something that makes you you, something you can’t live without. Everyone has one. It could be you’re a natural and talented artist or a skilled athlete. You could be a math genius, a captivating storyteller or a gifted actor. Everybody has that one thing they’re good at but some people haven’t yet discovered what it is yet. Ok so, think about your job. You’re good at your job; otherwise you wouldn’t even have it. You could be a graphic designer, or maybe you’re just really really good with people so work in sales. Or maybe you just do something basic that isn’t really that demanding and is actually enjoyable. Now what if one day you couldn’t do your job or you lost that one skill that everyone knew you for. It made them look up to you. It was the one thing that made you get up in the morning, it was all you lived for and now it’s gone. That happened to me.

It just took one night of forced motivation to make myself do something I wasn’t feeling up to and I ended up screwing up so much that I can’t even stand to even try again. OK, I’m going to stop being vague. I’m a band photographer. I’ve been taking photos for 11 years. I’ve been capturing rock moves under the colourful and dancing stage lights. I captured emotional moments that are easily missed from standing back in the crowd. A missed moment that now exists forever in a million ordered pixels. So how could I one night mess that up on a monumental level? And why is it keeping me from ever trying again? Am I so scared of failing I’ll never try again? Well, yes. Failing hurts. But this isn’t just limited to my band photography, it pervades to every part of my life.

This all started when I lost my job after just working there one day. It was the most basic and menial job that they usually give to immigrants who can’t speak fluent English. Those are the only jobs I can get. The jobs no one else wants. And I can’t even do them. My communication is stunted by my autism. My energy is exhausted in a matter of hours because of chronic fatigue. I feel like my whole body is falling apart and I’m feverishly and hopelessly trying to hold it together. No doctor or scientist can restore it to what it used to be. Am I overreacting? Maybe, but sometimes it feels like no matter what I do to help it it won’t be enough.

So lately I’ve been in a state of apathy. I don’t care about getting another job, mainly because I don’t think I can take being fired again. I’m not talking of disappointment but something far deeper on a psychological level. I basically gave up on my goals. For years I’ve just been trying to reach both short and long term goals but now it all feels like it’s for nothing. I get moments of motivation and creativity but it doesn’t hang around long enough for me to really do anything with it. And I’m not a person who can exist without creating something or making something out of myself.

I’m still trying. I’m still planning to overcome this fear of never taking the same quality photos again. I mean, that seems like such a small thing but the thing is it’s my only skill – no, not only skill – it’s the only skill that I can actually do with the energy and motivational limits I have. I’ve started to think about working on screenwriting too but the same issues come up. It’s a project that relies on self-motivation and organization. It takes commitment. And the final pitch takes high level communication skills, and you have to accept failure over and over again.

My Uncertain Future

Tomorrow I have to sit down for one of my first Centre Link appointments in years to have an interview where I’m supposed to tell one of their Customer Service Officers how they should help me prepare for work or as they say, ‘increase my participation in the community.’

My highly anxious mind instantly made the connection between this appointment and the budget changes happening in parliament. Yes, I would not have to be going through this if my government wasn’t working so hard to bleed this country dry of every dollar so they could just have some extra luxuries, but I also do want to get off the pension eventually and work a basic job and from there gain more independence. The problem is for this to happen I really need this Customer Service Officer to really listen to me and not just throw me into any volunteer position.

What is really holding me back from working or even volunteering is my fear of change that I’ve had my entire life, but also the PTSD anxiety added to this that triggers paranoid feelings about having to be outside alone for a length of time. I realised when I did all I could to avoid going to see a GP that this was the case. I would have had to walk there and unlike walking to Centre Link would not be walking on many populated streets. Yes, I walked to Centre Link a few days ago because of the profound anxiety about missing my appointment and having my pension cut off. Welcome to my nightmare that is generalised anxiety disorder.

So, even though I desperately want to get help for some very severe mental health issues my anxiety is so severe that it’s keeping me from getting that help. The problem is that people who know me know I have all these issues, especially the anxiety because I can’t always hold it in but they think I’m capable of getting that help on my own, so they don’t say much more than ‘I think you should get some help.’

Anxiety turns into depression pretty fast and since hearing this news from Centre Link I’ve been less able to see my depressive thoughts as something temporary. I believe them. When you believe thoughts that tell you you’re nothing, nobody likes you or people are manipulating you and that there’s no way out, you’re more likely to listen to that voice that says, ‘kill yourself.’ I’m more likely to listen to that voice than people telling me not to and rehashing the usual ‘you’re so brilliant,’ or ‘you have so much to live for.’ Well, I guess I can be brilliant when I have much to live for when I work for the dole even though I’m not even emotionally able to be able to. Let’s see what happens. I keep thinking that after my first meltdown that I’ll be institutionalized. My future is probably in an institution because it takes becoming that much worse for people to see that I can’t cope on my own. That I actually needed help for my mental health issues yesterday. And by yesterday I mean two years ago.

I know my wording in this post is a bit extreme and I don’t care. I’ve been dealing with on/off suicidal thoughts and feelings and haven’t been able to tell anyone, because it’s all the same bullshit. People want to talk and tell you how much of a good person you are. People are basically just using the same tricks they use in a regular social situation which I despise even when I’m not depressed. They’re just saying it to make you feel better. I care more about the truth.

It also angers me to be told everything is going to be ok by people who don’t have to deal with half as much of what I go through. Usually they’re not autistic, have ADHD or a mood disorder too. I look at them like average people, people who had to struggle like I do everyday. So, I see their empathy as fake…then again I don’t always feel empathy toward people so maybe I’m the one who’s doing something wrong here. That’s gonna be great for my depression.

Anyway, back to this Work For the Dole thing. I’m not going to allow it. By that I mean my anxiety won’t even allow it. I have panic attacks over having to go to an area I’ve never been to before. I’ve tried to get to music venues I’m too afraid to go to for that reason alone and I can’t do it. And I wanted to see those bands a hell of a lot more than I want to do volunteer work. If this is to be just like Bush’s ‘Work For Welfare,’ programs in America where they send you on a bus and get you to work two jobs then that’s even worse. Good luck to these people if they think I’m going to be able to manage my anxiety and depression.

It doesn’t really matter what anyone says. If people aren’t willing to get me the help I need for mental health issues and help me transition to change better as well as taking into account my executive dysfunctions (ADHD symptoms), hypoglycemia, possible epilepsy and my autistic eccentricities, then nothing will change for me and I’ll remain highly anxious, depressed and suicidal. Don’t even get me started on how after everyone gives me an order or suggestion I think they are trying to manipulate and control me. They may also affect my eligibility to get and keep a job.

As far as I can tell my life is already over. Just put me on medication and I might be ok. If not then I won’t allow my brain to be put under any more torture. Because that’s what anxiety and depression is – it’s torture to my mind. You really want to know why people commit suicide? It’s because they don’t want to be tortured any longer and that’s the quickest escape. And who the hell thinks about their family and loved ones when they are under extreme physical pain? The depression alone puts their mind in such a state that tells them those people would be better off without them. I’m usually angry at them. Angry for not feeling the emotions I feel, having the thoughts I have and not caring because they don’t know that’s the way I’m feeling. It’s hard to think about people missing you when you’re angry at them, and that anger turns to hate. That’s just the way it is.

For the past couple of days I’ve just felt hate toward people. I don’t feel like I deserve to even be liked by anyone. I look at what I struggle to do and know most people can do those things with ease. Then I look at my skills and think most people who do something similar can do it better or they get more recognition than I do. I don’t even want to be around happy cheerful people and I feel like burning my Facebook news feed.

However, I do have a mood disorder and that mood can turn into complete euphoria where for a short time I think everything is going to be ok and I show a lot more motivation and have so much energy. But it doesn’t last. The higher I go the harder I crash. I will also around this time think I don’t need treatment for my mental health issues. This is a good time for people to stop listening to me and take me to get the treatment I desperately need. Because I may in a couple of hours start having a more positive mood which will grow and grow until I am yet again in a complete fantasy land.

This is the best I can do. If it gets ignored or brushed aside as just something else I’m saying during another depressive episode that I’ll soon overcome and no longer feel this way about, then nothing will change and you’ll all be about as neglectful and dismissive as my psychiatrist. Because from tomorrow things are going to change for me and my more negative emotions have already adapted to that change by becoming worse because they have to prepare for what is to come.

You can say I’m being selfish and manipulative but I just want these feelings to end. I’m a very unwell person and I have no idea what to do about it.