Photo taken by contributor Jan Austin Smith, a 27-year-old man living in Northern California. Jan has been around people with mental health issues his whole life, including his mother, a psychiatrist, who has depression, and his closest aunt, who is bipolar. Jan has also suffered from depression and anxiety himself, which has been hugely exacerbated by disabling chronic nerve pain in his knees and 5 knee surgeries, and lost a brother to suicide. He thinks that mental issues are so maligned in the dominant culture, it is tragically sad. On his website, TheRewildWest, he writes about human, Earth, and animal liberation, as well as displays his nature photography. He’s also a novelist, and editor/book reviewer for the Green Theory and Praxis Journal.
About this photo: “I was recently very restless and in a deep pit of depression, and I just knew I had to DO SOMETHING to get past it. So I decided to pull an all-nighter and drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park; I left at 10:30 p.m. and made it to Glacier Point just in time for sunrise. I sat on a boulder overlooking Yosemite Valley with my rescued pit/lab mix named Batty and just stared out at the awe-inspiring beauty and majesty of the glacier-carved granite formations and the orange sky and clouds that got increasingly intense and gorgeous leading up to the moment I snapped this photograph of Half Dome. I returned home to L.A. just two nights later, but I was no longer badly depressed–it was like hitting a reset button! Nature and road-tripping and photography do that for me. I felt refreshed and ready to continue the constant struggle of my chronic nerve pain, anxiety and depression. Long Live Nature–Let’s Save Some!”
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