I have a friend who is a wonderful photographer. Like me, anxiety is a part of her everyday life, and recently, she’s found an excellent medium with which to express that side of herself… Water.
The photo above is one of hers, and the moment I saw it, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was drawn in by the calm sense of chaos that this photo portrays. It’s thought provoking, and I’m writing this blog post about it because A.) I want to talk about it. And B.) I’m interested to see what other people think.
When I find myself struggling through something in life (typically as a result of anxiety), I often think of the world as an ocean, and myself as someone who is lost within it. Maybe it’s because the most intense anxieties I have ever experienced have been (in the more than one occasion) when it felt like water was out to get me. Or maybe it’s because the idea of life being comparable to an ocean is universal. Who knows.
I see this photo from my own personal lens. The same lens that I have carried with me throughout my life, and no doubt, it’s shaping the way that I see this picture.
When I look at the image, I see 2 sides of myself.
At first glance, this photo feels a lot like anxiety. It feels like never really getting there. Like trying my hardest but simply falling short. It feels like panicking. Like I can’t breath. Like I’m drowning. This is what my brain is like on my worst days.
At second glance, this photo feels oddly calming. The longer I study it, the more and more it begins to feel like hope. Like there’s something out there I can’t quite see, or that maybe I don’t quite understand. Like there’s something out there, waiting for me. Calling to me. Reaching for me. Like I’m being guided towards safety and stability. This photo feels like strength. It feels like even though I don’t always see them, my underlying strengths and that guiding force are still there. They always have been, and they always will be. This is who I really am, and on my best days this is what I believe.
Getting lost in this photo has given me an opportunity to think critically about myself, and engage in some self study. I feel like it’s given me some insight into how my mind works. For me, anxiety is like a layer of unsettled water. It blocks my senses and keeps me from the clarity that lives beneath.
Sometimes I let anxiety pull me down, deeper and deeper into it’s depths, and in those moments, I need help from others. I need someone to reach into my puddle turned ocean, and pull me out.
Sometimes I am able to see anxiety for what it is. Just a layer of unsettled water. And in my experience, I have learned that finding stillness and cultivating a sense of calm, allows the water to settle, and when that happens, I can find a deeper connection with myself and I can begin to see the things that anxiety removes from focus.
For now, the water is all around me, and so long as I learn how to live with it, and recognize when I need help with it, I know that everything will be okay.
Big shout out to my friend Stephanie for taking this photo and thank you for allowing me to discuss it.
If you’re into artsy photos that capture the intricacies of human interaction and the small moments in life that speak loudly, stroll on over to her Photography page.
Does this photo speak to anyone else? Particularly about mental illness? Or in anyway at all? Hit me up in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think!