I wonder for how many people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, photography helps alleviate symptoms, at least for a little while. Judging by the Broken Light Collective site, there are many of us.
What is it about photography that soothes a mind gone sideways?
Every nerve, every muscle sighed and cried fatigue and pain. My arms, my legs, my head seemed too much for the strength in my joints, my neck. I tottered helplessly on the edge of the hopelessness out of which I had so recently been lifted.
I can’t do this again, Lord. I won’t survive.
Why didn’t I feel better?
Following my second bout of depression beyond depression, I was stuck. No longer in the dark twisted depths where the only thoughts that brought some peace were thoughts of the end; when to bring an end to what seemed a life of failure and harm felt like the only reasonable solution. But still lost in a netherworld of apathy broken by bursts of anger, occasional sadness, and rare moments of feeling like myself.
The sunlight, the sand, the waves. The three children who ran and dug, splashed and laughed, who proudly showed me their found-rocks and built-sand-creations. The husband who picked up the camera I abandoned. So far away. All so far away. Even the sand beneath my feet, the cool water washing over; touching me, but not reaching me. Me, what was left of me, far away inside my head. Had I ever been complete? Touchable? Had I ever known faith?
God… God must be somewhere beyond the hard arc of blue over, behind, and beyond me. The impenetrable ceiling where my universe ended. Even this shrunken universe was more than I could stand. It was too big, too full, too empty. Hopeless, pointless. Grace was reserved for those who could appreciate it. And I stood beyond. Rejecting and rejected.
Wave after wave made their way to where I stood, each dragging sand from beneath my feet in the endless process of redecorating the shore. Me, they left standing. Staring down. Away from as much too-muchness as possible. I saw without seeing. The sunlight and clear water playing over pebbles smooth and gray.
Until something caught my eye.
One red stone. Wiggling as the waves tried to move it elsewhere. It… danced…
You’re the only one who is ever going to see this, just like this.
God broke through…
In a moment of true lucidity I realized, I believed, that before I was born, back when He was laying the foundations of the earth, my Father knew that this small red stone would be here. Here at this moment for my eyes only, to speak Truth into my emptiness. A moment of respite from the darkness, to give me hope. To remind me that He is there, He is here, and He loves me, even when I can’t feel it. To remind me that nothing is without purpose, that I may need to endure a little longer with a broken mind and heart but He will always use the times that feel like the worst for His glory… and my good if I let Him… and love Him.
It was a moment. That helped me survive to the next moment. Moments when I can’t deny the reality of grace. That once again expand into days, into life.