In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”

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This is a quick iPhone pic of this year’s Vision Board. that I shot a few days ago  Sorry for the quality of the image.  It was never meant to be seen in public….

My wife and I make visions board after the first of the each year.  We compose them using tear-outs of magazines that have piled up throughout the year. Usually vision boards represent what you want to happen in the coming year, and it’s supposed to help guide you toward those goals all year long.  This year’s board was very different.

I wasn’t going for a Picasso look, but it did kind of turn out with a similar feel.  Instead of only showing my hopes and wishes for the coming year, it ended up also reflecting this past year’s mental beatings.

Believe it or not, there is a semblance of organization to it.  It’s composed of three parts.  The middle oval is a portrait. The body is the woman with overalls on, and her head is assembled using various parts from different people, using men’s, as well as women’s features. There are two statements I wanted to convey with that.  First, I want to shoot more portraiture in the coming year.  I usually do landscape (which is still my first love). The second reflects the confusion of the past year and the feelings of being torn in different directions.

There are two parts that make up the edges.  Some of the outer ring is simply textures that I like.  That represents my frame. The rest of the space around the edge is where I reflected on how I feel this past year treated me.  I feel very banged up and bruised as 2014 makes its exit.  It was a rough and confusing year that am very glad is gone.

I’ll reflect on this all year long, hoping its magical powers show me a path through the maze.  My hope is that I do more artistic portraiture work and get better with my lighting skills.  Lighting is such and art on its own.  The subtleties of how it falls on a person’s face and body is really remarkable when you sit and study an ad or any photo and really see how the light reveals each part of a person’s skin.  Sometimes it has harsh beginnings and endings, yet other times it seems to gently wrap around the small features that make our bodies unique and make them pop with depth and richness.  I will leave the fashion to someone else.  If you could see how I dress most of the time, you would see that fashion doesn’t hold a priority in my life.

Lastly, the board will serve a reminder that past year has exited, never to return.  Instead of letting the memories live in my head, whisper in my ear, and drag me down for the coming year, I plucked them out (even though they went kicking and screaming), and I glued them on this board so they are never to escape.  They will be held here in perpetuity.  Which, I  must say, is a light sentence for the crimes they have committed. Lee

Self Medication for my Depression

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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: http://leevannphotography.com/fall-in-the-smokies 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.

897In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Serenity.”

This photo was a bit of a long exposure, so it “smoothed” out a rough ocean, but you can still see the undercurrent of movement and waves.  Is it the same in life with problems?  If you stare, or study, or expose yourself to them long enough, that they will just calm down and smooth out?

Weekend thoughts…

I love reading others’ posts.  Not only just the ones that pertain to depression, but to be able to hear (well,,, read) what’s on other people minds just seems so cool to me.

One post today (from My Travels With Depression on WordPress) made me think of my journey with depression and anxiety.  I can remember having depressive and anxious thoughts and problems going  back to my childhood.  Of course, I didn’t know what it was at the time.  For the longest time, I thought that depression was the major player and anxiety was only a part or a result.  Lately, I’m becoming aware, or suspicious, that anxiety plays a much bigger role, if not the leading role.

I’m writing some speeches for my project TheFacesOfDepression.org,  Because of my previous career being in operations management, I learned that one of the best methods about leadership and communication was that people learn more from stories than any other method of teaching.  Just think of those History Channel shows that make you realize what your history teacher was trying to say, but sadly said so blandly and uninterestingly.  So I am using stories as much as possible in my speeches.  That combined with my charismatic, outgoing, attention grabbing personality…NOT !!!!

The more stories I thought of throughout my life, the more I realize how anxiety was in the front seat and depression was following in the car behind, just waiting to pounce after anxiety did it’s damage and left me at the scene of the crash.

This is my thought for the day.  I have known for a while that depression and anxiety were close “cousins”, but I now realize which family I am in, and which family is more tangential in my life.    One that has been brewing for a couple of years now.  My therapist will be happy to hear that I have self-diagnosed myself and alleviated her of her needed work….:-/  Actually, she will probably shake her head and smile, and wonder if this means that I will be sending her even more articles to read between our chit chats.  I totally know she read and is interested in all of them……

Getting the word out?

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Ok, so I am setting up this whole TheFaceasOfDepression.org idea.  I put together a webpage (see previous sentence  🙂

The website has my story and the basic premise of the program, but I have to develop things further in order to get ready to go public.  I have spoken with a publicist.  He thinks it will take off quickly as a non-profit, but he warned me that I will only have one shot when I get on radio or tv.  One shot or it’s a bust!

So, I am putting together the corporation papers and applying for 501 (3) (c) status, and filming some video. (editing video was not easy to learn btw)  The videos are both professionals giving their opinions on stigmas attached ,how it affects relationships, and some new treatments available, as well as support people like my wife who will talk about what it’s like to live with and be in a relationship with me. (just he medical part, not the throwing underwear on the floor part)  My current website is a DIY kind of thing, so I will need to upgrade that at some point.

I also need to have my message down.  So I am writing a speech to figure out how I would present my thoughts.  First draft…….not so good.  Very informative, but not so encouraging.  It would  have left people depressed if they weren’t already.  I am getting closer with my message, but I need to really end it with a “Call to Action”.  My current draft has an “everyone wears masks of some kind so we are in the same boat” message.  I don’t think that will work because I am trying to make it so that we DON’T need to wear masks at all.

Any thoughts on what to say?  Or how to word it?  I think I’m going more towards a “if you have a physical ailment you wouldn’t need a mask or be ashamed” message.  That’s going to be difficult without sounding whiny.

Look forward to your thoughts!

Lee

What’s TheFacesOfDepression.org?

I created this website after a “rough” weekend  I thought I would like to see what I looked like from the outside since I was well aware what I felt like on the inside.  It wasn’t pretty to say the least.  However, I did find it somewhat cathartic.

I thought others that suffer from depression and anxiety might be interested in doing it as well.  I put out the call!  Emails, FaceBook, Twitter ,and even phone calls.

I got some friends to join in and “come out” to the world and let them know that they also suffer, and there is no reason to attach a stigma to them since they already had a relationship and that didn’t have to change.

I mean, think about it.  If a friend finds out something new about you (barring illegal activity), they have to know that you are still the same person they know an love.   So it doesn’t make sense to attach that stigma.

I thought, “How could I get that message to the rest of the world?”   So, I started the website TheFacesOfDepression.org.  It serves as an inspirational site, and community building site, and an educational site.

I want everyone to know that we; those that suffer, are normal everyday people.  But, because of the stigmas attached to depression and anxiety, most of us put on our “Face” to show the world so we can hide it in shame.

The big message is, “I am not my depression.  I am Lee Vann, a person that happens to have to manage depression like any pother disorder.”