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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”