This past winter, I surveyed the P4P audience asking people to share something quite personal: Their experiences with depression.
Answers poured in from around the world in a matter of hours. I copied and pasted the survey answers into a Word document, and the result was over 50 pages long (single-spaced).
Clearly, this was something we needed to talk about.
We all have individuals in our lives who live with depression, whether we know it or not. For that reason alone, it’s worth educating ourselves. As I studied depression in college and graduate school, I came to care a lot about lifting the stigma surrounding this illness. Depression may be chronic in some, but it is treatable. However, the stigma surrounding it prevents many from asking questions and finding treatments which work for them. (Imagine if people were afraid to seek treatment for a chronic joint problem, or felt compelled to hide it because they were worried about what their friends would say. An arresting and terrible thought, isn’t it?)
I spent one summer working in a depression clinic in Germany. On my first day, I attended a group meeting with all clients and therapists present. And you know what?
As I looked around, I could not tell who was a client and who was a therapist.
It was just a room full of people, young and old. We may have a certain image in our mind of what someone with depression “looks like,” but it truly is an invisible illness, and it is not limited to one segment of the population. There are wonderful, successful people in every societal group imaginable who live with it. And that includes the photography world.
After reading through all 50 pages of anonymous, personal experiences of photographers with depression, I sat down to write an article for Professional Photographer, a UK-based industry magazine. They published it last February, and I feel grateful to them for opening their pages to this topic. Even though we are having more and more conversations about depression, the discussion is long from over, and I am grateful to their editors for allowing me to speak up about a topic you don’t normally find amongst lens reviews and industry talk.
(And as I’ve read more from Professional Photographer, I’ve been quite impressed by the breadth of topics they seek to cover…truly worth checking out.)
Professional Photographer has graciously agreed to let me share the published version of the article with you on this blog.
(You may need to make use of a “zoom” button to read the document.)
I somehow feel nervous sharing this article here, even though it’s already been published. Feeling nervous is usually a sign that something is important to you, and I think more than any other topic I’ve covered on this blog, I feel the need to “get this right.”
There’s no way to cover everything in one article – not even everything that’s important.
But I hope it gives some people hope, understanding, or just the courage to learn more.