Mental Health . . . A Photographer’s Perspective (this isn’t going to be easy)
As photographers, writers, illustrators, actors, musicians… As creatives, we create the world that we exist in, we create the world that the rest of the world sees.
This is a gift, it is our gift and it is the soul of the saying that we “are gifted.” While many are brought up to view doctors and lawyers as having greater intellectual prowess, the truth of the matter is that it takes a VERY strong mind to visualize and then create our art.
But what happens when that mind turns against us?
We have seen what can happen all too often in stories like the suicide of Robin Williams only a few months ago. He was an incredible comedian and a good man tortured secretly by the very mind that the world celebrated for its wit and talent.
Now it is at this point that the author tries to distance his or herself from the cause but offer a solution usually with a statement like, “I knew a person that went through yadda yadda yadda.” Why is this?… Because it is taboo to be honest, and all too often people worry about being seen in a bad light if admitting to something of this sort. You deserve more, by reading this alone you have given me time that I have not deserved and I would like to be brutally honest with the hopes that someone reading this is helped.
I know someone that has gone through mental health struggles… ME
It is a deeply personal and extremely (understatement) terrifying experience. If I had to quit this career in exchange of one person not going through it, I would in a heartbeat.
In the time since I experienced it, I have had the incredible fortune to talk to many great artists and non-artists alike that have quietly gone through the same exact thing (anxiety and panic attacks). This tells me that there is a very good chance that some of you reading this have gone or will go through it. There are three very important things that I want you to know, things that I wish I had known or had the ability to understand when I was in a bad way.
- This is the most important one… YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Right here, you have found a friend that has gone through it. Had those thoughts that we only think crazy people have, experienced the desperation and loss for explanation as to what is happening.
- Going through mental health struggles is NOT a weakness. In no way does it mean that your mind is weak, if anything it means that your mind is STRONGER than many others around. It means that you have the ability to form situations that do not exist in reality, and the emotional strength to be captivated by them. In many ways it is a gift to have the strength of mind to lose your mind.
- I want you to know that those around you care about you dearly. It is hard to convince yourself of this, but it is absolute truth. You matter, and no amount of self-imposed isolation will change this.
It was on set for a photoshoot that I had a very long conversation with Adam Garone, the co-founder CEO of the Movember Foundation, the global organization changing the face of men’s health. We talked about how important it was for men to talk openly about mental health. Unfortunately this often is hidden for fear of being outcast when there is a chance that the guy sitting across the table has gone through the very same thing. We are quick to complain about feeling weak from a sore muscle or injury, but hide condition of where our heads at?
Photographers: I love you guys. I want nothing but the best for you. Let’s be honest with each other… not necessarily in such a public forum, but on a one to one basis. We all have close friends in the industry that we talk to about work, camera gear, techniques… why can’t we talk to them about mental health?
The most important person in this long journey is YOU.
About the author: Blair Bunting is a commercial photographer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. To see more of his work, be sure to visit his website and blog, or give him a follow on Twitter. This article originally appeared here.