Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

I’m Still Here, Still Valuable

Photos taken by first-time contributor Cliff, a 35-year-old male from Rhode Island, who has struggled with severe depression and PTSD for most of his life. He was in a good place with the things that caused the PTSD, but the depression was another matter. Last fall, he came dangerously close to taking his own life and admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital to maintain safety through the worst of it. He had someone very close to him take her own life in his early 20’s and he didn’t want to cause that same pain for his wife or other loved ones. He later was diagnosed as having Bipolar II and started medication more specific to bipolar since antidepressants did little for him over the years. Since then, his life has become stable and he is starting to plan for the future instead of just trying to survive from day to day.

About these photos: “These were taken in an abandoned amusement park in Rhode Island. The houses were the living quarters for the workers of that particular amusement park. When the park closed all of the rides had been stripped for metal including the frames. The entire property including the houses were fenced in, only to be visited occasionally by someone stripping the copper wires from the walls. There is an entire suburb that’s not been touched since the mid 90’s. There is still food in the refrigerators, furniture in the rooms and personal belongings of many of the former inhabitants. It’s as if the community were evacuated rather than left willingly. I’ve been told that these houses are to be torn down this summer. It’s odd how something that clearly meant so much to the families that lived there have been left to ruin, likely rarely crossing their mind now. There were still photos in drawers even. The Polaroid in one of these was laying on the ground just as I found it.

Photography has in recent years been an escape from the otherwise crippling depressions. A dear friend of mine would often come to see me if he hadn’t heard from me in about six or more weeks, given that we live only a few miles from each other. He wouldn’t take no for an answer about going to go photograph something. He’s a very talented photographer in his own right and he has a lighthearted disposition. I would often be miserable at the beginning of wherever our adventure led us, but for a short time, I’d stop feeling and just shoot. We tend to shoot either nature or abandoned spaces, be it houses, businesses, unused state or federal property where structures still stand or any space that’s been left for ruin. I wondered why I always saw beauty in these places that most would just see as an eyesore or a rotting building not deserving of anything more than a glance.

As I was emailing back and forth with a friend it struck me what always attracted me to these spaces. I see a lot of myself in these decaying structures. A place once vibrant and structurally sound that flourished, only to be used up and eventually abandoned by those whom once inhabited the space. Though structurally still sound, the facade now showing visible wear and falling apart with no one to show it care, starts to rot and fade away more quickly. Most would see this as being too far gone to bother with, but I still see something viable. Something with potential needing only time and care. As I look at the now visible wear and tear, I see character. Maybe I’m reading too much into it and I just have a thing for old buildings. Either way, with care and patience I’m not the same as I once was, but I’m still here and still valuable. That’s mostly from my own work, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I needed some serous help when I was falling down.

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13 comments on “I’m Still Here, Still Valuable

  1. tilde531
    March 26, 2013

    We are of kindred spirit when it comes to photographic subjects 🙂 Great series!

    Like

  2. seeker
    March 26, 2013

    I see so much beauty in your photos. I always thinks when it comes to really looking or seeing I think of the Little Prince: What is essential is invisible to the naked eye. We all need help. Stay and keep receiving the help. I know it’s hard to accept help for we are stubborn bunch due to the nature of illness. Take Care.

    Like

  3. Fresh Ginger
    March 26, 2013

    Wonderful photographs. Keep it up. You are valuable.

    Like

  4. Cara Lockhart Smith
    March 26, 2013

    Very poignant details in these photographs, and I like the description too, it seems honest and moving.

    Like

  5. petchary
    March 26, 2013

    Yes, there IS character. I just took some photos of a ruined house in rural Jamaica, and fell in love with it – just as it was, broken windows and all…

    Like

  6. Stephen G. Hipperson
    March 27, 2013

    Nice.
    It would be some time before my camera and I could be dragged away from such a place!

    Like

  7. OyiaBrown
    March 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

  8. Maya
    March 27, 2013

    I don’t think you’re reading too much into it. Why wouldn’t it be important, to some degree or another, to identify why we are attracted to certain subjects and not others? You may have given me some clarity on why I seek out the old and abandoned places to shoot. Peace to you.

    Like

  9. autisticaplanet
    March 28, 2013

    I echo many here in saying that I too am drawn to many an abandoned building or object. I encourage you to remain strong in the Lord and blessings to you for your strength! There certainly is more to life than mere survival. Photography has helped me to live vs. just surviving. 😉

    Like

  10. grumpytykepix
    March 29, 2013

    Great photos and a superb interpretation of the theme.

    Like

  11. Helen Cherry
    March 29, 2013

    A most excellent series

    Like

  12. If the structures could speak … what would they say?
    Fantastic ….

    Like

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