Self Medication for my Depression


I have tried some self-medicating, and seen others’ as well.  Most are pretty destructive.  Drinking, drugs, sex (illicit sex, not the good kind), being adrenaline junkies, exercising to excess, or maybe hermitting (staying cooped up and not interacting with the world). Some of those definitely have applied to me at some point in my life, and some haven’t.

This past fall, I went to Tennessee to photo the fall leaf scene.  I did some of my best work ever!  I’ve known for a while now that photography is a way for me to self-medicate.  With photography, there are two parts to the medication process.  The first of the two is mental solitude.  I don’t mean being alone. I can be with others while I’m shooting, but I usually end up getting lost in myself and focusing on small details. I like to watch how they interact with each other and light and how they move, and how they change so quickly as the day wears on.  The second, is simply being outdoors.  Even thought my depression tells me to stay inside and watch tv or sleep all day, being outdoors injects some non-artificial anti-depressant directly into my brain that has an immediately effect.

Here is an example that illustrates both.  This past fall in the Smokies, I was watching how water washed over this particular rock in the middle of a stream; which is the photo above. ( see others at: for more ).  It had a point, or a horn that stuck out of the stream and kept the water from easily washing directly over the top.  Instead, the water would wash to one side or the other, depending on how big the wave was that was trying to envelop it.  I was mesmerized watching ebbs and flows and trying to time the photo just right so that the end of the rock had a “lacquered” look, instead of just looking like water was rushing over it. There was nothing making the water act differently each time it gained enough momentum to get to the top of the horn, yet it each time, i saw it climb to a different height or fall to a different side.

You can see from the photo that there is a kind of hole just below the horn. That hole would suck water down like a whirlpool in the ocean. It seemed as if it were trying to keep water from ever reaching the top of the horn.  It looked like there was a battle raging between the hole and the stream.  The hole was fighting the stream for the honor of the horn’s tip.  If the horn were to be washed over, the hole would lose, but if it could suck the water down fast enough, it would be victorious.

Winning what prize I don’t know.  It just made me laugh standing in the middle of this stream, watching a make-believe war going on between two inanimate objects with no real prize to be had, other that the glory of victory itself.

With all of that drama playing out inside my head, at that moment there wasn’t room enough for the battle and anxiety or depression.  Hopefully, some of that carries over and keeps me feeling good for a while.


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