Broken Light: A Photography Collective

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Embracing The Depression Beast

Photo taken by contributor Craig A. Miller, a 37-year-old author, speaker, photographer, and suicide attempt survivor from Boston. For many years he struggled with OCD, extreme anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. After a suicide attempt nearly ended his life at age 20, he became dedicated to understanding what led him to such a decision, and more importantly how he could gain control of himself and his life to ensure it would never happen again. He published a book in 2012 titled, This is How it Feels: a memoir of attempting suicide and finding life. He is a member of The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention and regularly speaks everywhere from libraries to state conferences sharing his story and the steps he took to move forward.

About this photo: There was a time when my depression held me captive. It ruled my thoughts, my dreams, and my actions. It was a wall that surrounded me from all sides stretching to the sky and leaving me at the bottom. 

After my suicide attempt I became obsessed with trying to break through that wall. In the process, I learned to treat my depression as a living breathing beast. I would close my eyes and visualize epic battles where I fought the dark entity trying to control me. Every night I’d give the monster a new form. I’d create different scenes or a varying scenario. Sometimes I’d win. Sometimes I’d lose. But I always kept fighting.

Gradually, I began to win more often. I’d visualize it running away before I even got close enough to strike. I imagined it balled-up on the ground cowering in front of me. And eventually, I imagined the dark entity that once controlled me lying helpless at my feet. But I could never bring myself to destroy it.

It seemed that through all the battles we had fought, I had somehow learned to love it. I no longer saw my depression as a separate entity. I saw it as a part of me. I realized it never needed to be destroyed. It just needed to be tamed. 

Embracing my depression, looking at it with compassion, and putting my entire heart into helping it become beautiful is what truly released me from the darkness I was once help captive.

I created this photo together with the following poem to symbolize this process.

I loved the mountain for all its size
And it let me pass to the other side
I loved the sea for all its storms
And it carried me to distant shores
I loved the sun for its blistered heat
And it lit my way so I could see
I loved the road for its cobbled stones
And it straightened out to lead me home” 

Find more from Craig at his website or twitter.

_____

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17 comments on “Embracing The Depression Beast

  1. chrisrenney
    July 23, 2014

    An inspiring image.

    Like

  2. Cheryl
    July 23, 2014

    That’s a gorgeous photo, Craig, and I love the poem. I’m impressed by your tenacity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dizzylizzie34
    July 23, 2014

    Wow.

    Like

  4. Willy Nilly
    July 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Cut-Throat Clubhouse and commented:
    Reblogged this on The Cut Throat Club. It tells my story better than I can.

    Like

  5. Willy Nilly
    July 23, 2014

    This resonated deeply with my own struggle. I called the depression my dragons and said to destroy them was to destroy myself. I had to learn that death was my constant companion, the only friend that would never betray me. Then I began to live.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The Laughable Cheese
    July 23, 2014

    As someone who had had depression growing up, I can relate to this. His comparison to suicidal thoughts to a living breathing beast is awesome, because it not only makes sense. But then if you can give it a name, take away from being some abstract word but an actual thing, then it is easier to go through the process of slowly breaking away from that feeling by realizing, that just because you have a bad feeling, a terrible feeling even, it doesn’t mean that is what you are. By making it concrete you have something to turn away from. I went through a similar process and before I did that separating of the feeling and understanding it, I thought that was what I was. Such a huge realization.
    Also that picture is interesting. I can feel the cold desolation of a flower trying to grow out of a barren road.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking for the Light
    July 24, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your story. Many people in the WP community can relate, you’re speaking for us. Your words are true and beautifully written. I’m following you. Have a great day. 🙂

    Like

  8. Jessica Cantave
    July 24, 2014

    It’s amazing. you’re amazing. thank you brother for sharing this miracle.

    Like

  9. alysmai
    July 25, 2014

    Reblogged this on Alysmai's Blog and commented:
    Very insightful

    Like

  10. luro97
    July 25, 2014

    Thank you so much for your photo and story.

    Like

  11. Paula McLane Jennings
    July 25, 2014

    I too suffer with lifelong depression. Creative outlets help me tremendously. Love the photo and the poem!

    Like

    • jasmindamaro
      July 25, 2014

      ein wunderschoenes bild eine einsamme weisse blume auf einen einsam langen weg von stein und asfalt und doch ist sie vom weiterleben und ueberleben gezeichnet und die einsamkeit der weiten strasse macht sie nicht verwelken

      Like

  12. Tish Farrell
    July 27, 2014

    Such a brave, uplifting post, the image and the words

    Like

  13. Craig Miller
    July 29, 2014

    Thank you all so much for your kind and thoughtful responses.
    Craig

    Like

  14. Violet
    August 3, 2014

    this is amazing! is the book available on amazon?

    Like

  15. Lon Hetrick
    August 15, 2014

    Fascinating and perspective on living with depression. It made me feel empathy, and sadness and victory all at once. Thanks for sharing it along with the photo and poem.

    I’m Lon. My wife and daughters struggle with depression and anxiety. I write about Christian hope and emotional health at Average Us dot com. (http://averageus.com/)

    Grace to you, Lon

    Like

  16. traveller310
    August 23, 2014

    I’m coming to terms with my beast and making use of its presence in my life through photography and turning it into energy plus direction. Thanks for the reassurance

    Like

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