Still I Rise
A hopeful exploration of anxiety and depression (mental illness).
In taking these pictures, I felt some of the painful emotions being expressed, even more so in all the hours I spent seeing them on my computer screen. Some of these photos truly feel sad, and it's my hope that, in seeing them, some will know that many others are feeling the same pain. But her black shirt with bright white hearts all over it was an intentional, symbolic choice. Keep holding on.
Hitting rock bottom means there's only one direction left to go: up. Yes, I know, you could argue that I'm wrong and that death is another direction to go. But I refute that: it's an ending. Of everything. Everything bad, yes, but also everything good - everything good that could ever be - and that's not a direction at all. The only direction left to choose is up. Every time.
Because as hard as it might be to rise up from a dark and broken place, once you're standing up again, it's hard not to take at least one step. Carla is an example of how possible that is.
Because it's an important direction to look.
Sometimes it's the only thing you can hold on to. But that hope, just like you, is enough.
No matter how much progress, change, or improvement you make, it's common to feel like you've never even reached the halfway point. Like you're trying to climb a mountain but there's always a treadmill beneath you're feet; as if Pain was a person you're constantly with, and every time you try to "rise up" you're hurting Pain itself.
In any form you want, in any form you need, pray. The universe/the world/God is on your side. Especially when you don't feel like it.
It can take a long time, but, in some form or another, prayers are answered; even if it only comes in the form of learning to accept things - and yourself - the way they are.
What if you had a dream where you met yourself, and by simply being in her/his presence you felt different? What if that copy of yourself talked for a whole hour about how amazing you are, how powerful you are, and how you will end up where s/he is now? What would it take for you to believe that, to see that as a possible reality? And who said you can only spend time with that person in your dream?
The dark can be a tempting place to go, and there's nothing wrong with you for thinking that you might be more comfortable there. But you are a being of light, and I'm telling you that the light is where you belong.
It won't be the first door you open - but that's not the point. The point is that there are an infinite amount of doors with light on the other side, and they are all waiting to let you in.
Remember the picture of her at the bottom of the stairs looking up? She was envisioning herself being all the way up here. She believed in it.
Mental illness can hurt, but you are not alone in your pain. Nor are you alone in what you do or who you talk to in finding relief and comfort for that pain. You are human and, consequently, magnificent.
I couldn't help but smile while taking this picture. She started singing without me telling her to do anything. In her voice, she showed me her strength, her faith, her endurance... and she is beautiful.