One Step at a Time

Photos taken by DC, a 32-year-old bipolar photographer currently doing a short-term intensive DBT program at a mental institution. It is thankfully not a locked unit this time, so she is occasionally able to get off grounds with her camera, mood permitting.

About these photos: “It was a slow weekend here at the mental “cottage.” There were very few of us residents and no day patients since it was the weekend, so I was alone much of the time, isolating as usual, but I did end up forcing myself to go out at one point and do my 10 minutes of prescribed outside time – which in fact led to much more. I went off the property with my camera to a pond across the street. It was almost sunset and the colors were beautiful. I worked my way around to the back side of the pond and just sat there staring at the reflections of the trees and birds, thinking how many poems, books, and songs must have been written in that very spot. I know many well-known creatives have done stints at the same institution over the years. 

I photographed as I went which calmed me, but as it started getting dark, I started getting the panic feeling rising my chest. I felt lost and confused, even though I knew I was not far from the street or hospital, and started freaking out – doing mental gymnastics as they call it here. Once I recognized what was happening, I started trying to use my DBT tools. Okay, I said aloud as I walked back, I need to ground myself here in reality in this moment. What do I see? Colors. Okay, I see green, brown, orange, (insert eye roll here), blue, grey, purple… Hey, I think I’m actually starting to be here in this moment! Alas, just then… Squish… Poop. I stepped in poop. Surprise. The old me would have taken that as a negative sign, but I actually thought it was pretty funny and useful. I used some new tools, and still poop happened. The skills are not going to prevent poop. The skills are how you react to the poop. I also learned that instead of looking ahead into the future, I should be looking down and taking it one step at a time.”

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