We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!
Photo taken by contributor Samantha Pugsley, a conceptual fine art photographer in her twenties from Charlotte, North Carolina. She first picked up a camera during her junior year of college. This was right around the time when she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Things that were once easy became impossible for her. Getting dressed in the morning, shopping at the grocery story, driving her car…just living, was a panic attack waiting to happen. Photography helped her heal. With her camera she could start a conversation about what was going on in her head. She could say things with her images that she didn’t know how to say out loud. She still struggles with anxiety but making art helps her talk about it and manage it. She started a 365 photography project to ensure that she’d be doing what brings her joy every single day. She has noticed that her anxiety level is much lower if she spends time with her camera every day.
About this photo: “Where I live in North Carolina barely ever sees snow. The most I’ve seen in the past decade are some flurries and one time where we got almost an inch of ice that covered that the ground (which doesn’t really count as snow). Several months ago, we got hit with a huge snow storm (by NC standards). We ended up with nine inches. It started very abruptly and quickly accumulated. On the day that the snow began, I was getting ready for the day and kept staring out the window. I have always wanted to shoot in the snow. As usual, anxiety was holding me back. Though the roads were fine, my anxiety told me I’d get somewhere and then the roads would all of a sudden turn into a sheet of ice and leave me stranded. Second, having never thought I’d get the opportunity to shoot in a storm like this, I had no idea where to go or what I would do when I got there. Third, I had no idea how to protect my camera or how to shoot in snowy conditions. And worst case scenario, I’d get lost in the woods/buried under an avalanche/eaten by a snow bear and eventually die. All of that together, I basically had given up on the idea.
Thank goodness for my husband. After I told him all of this he simply said, “You probably won’t get another chance like this.”
What powerful words. My anxiety was causing me to pass up on an opportunity I might not have again for another decade. Or maybe never. I wasn’t willing to take that chance. I loaded my gear, headed to the nearest nature preserve and had an amazing, educational, life changing experience. Not only that, but the photos I ended up with landed me on Flickr’s Explore for three days in a row!
Personally, I think it’s some of my best work to date because of the obstacles I had to overcome to the get the shots. And yes, I was anxious. I had to fight my inner panic and resist the urge to give up. And I am so glad I didn’t because I was able to learn how incredibly valuable it is to take chances. I felt so alive while shooting in the forest. The absolute silence of a snowy forest is one of the most peaceful and beautiful things I have yet to experience. Being alone and doing what I love surrounded by such immense beauty – it was nothing short of powerful.
Samantha = 1, Anxiety = 0.”