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July 22, 2017

Before, During and After

How do I start this post?  I might just let the words write themselves, stream of consciousness, and see where it ends.

The past couple of months have been intense - losing friends to depression is devastating.  To some, they are musicians who struggled with their lives.  To me, they are my friends, they are me.  Let me explain... no, I'm not a musician (Lord, you do not want to hear me sing), but I have been in the music industry most of my adult life.  I met many talented individuals, even dated a few before my self imposed musician-dating-ban.  I lived on buses, hotels, touring, studio, and you get to live the life of a musician through the countless years documenting their lives.  Some of us live, some of us survive.

One of the strings that connects many creatives is a dark one, we all recognize it in each other, yet afraid to mention its name.  Depression.  There, I said it.  Depression.  Depression.  Maybe if I say it enough times, it loses its stigma, its hold on what gives life.  Because, you see, life before depression is something like a movie I watched on a screen that faded a long time ago.  I don't even remember a life without it.  Sitting on my shoulder, depression whispered unimaginable things in my ear.  One day it said I was ugly, the next that I was a horrible photographer, the next that I never would deserve love, no matter how much I loved.  I started to believe this motherf*cker, I started to believe it and it manifested in illness in my body.  Cancer.  F*ck.  Now, that REALLY was reason to get depressed.  The "during" phase, felt a lot more numbing than I ever thought was possible.  I actually went weeks, months without feeling at all, just going through the motions.  And then I started to witness it, like an out of body experience.  I was so numb that not even depression could make me feel anything.  That's when you're in the eye of the storm.  Anything anyone says can be a trigger, and you have to be prepared for when the storm hits again - in that moment, there is absolute panic.  You know it's coming, you know you have to go through it, you doubt every bit of strength you have left, you know it's a mountain, you feel it all in a heart that is too heavy to beat.  That is depression.  Some people say that suicide is a cowardly way out, but unless you've been there, you can't judge.  And if you have been there, you won't judge.  The only thing you feel is overwhelming pain and fear.

This is not "a moment" - this is years.  A lifetime.  If you self medicate in the only ways you think you can, it will get you.  IT WILL GET YOU.  Boogeyman.  Motherf*cking boogeyman.  Why do I swear so much?  Because I want to diminish its self proclaimed power.  There is only what we give it.
I chose to go through it in the best way possible for me.  Acknowledging it, trying not to fight it, and taking one little piece at the time.  I meditated.  I photographed.  I stopped everything.  I tried to stop time.  And through some serious self discovery, I came through to the After.  Which is where I finally sit today.  On my birthday.  Alive and content, understanding of the growth it took to go through it, and I'm here to tell you that, dear reader, if you have depression, don't for one second think it has you.  Never.  You are capable of getting through it.  Let's stop giving this f*cker so much power by not ever even mentioning its name.  Depression.  Do you think it's worse than cancer?  Than grief?  My experience, having gone through all the above, is yes.  Because somehow it's attached to a stigma, but guess what... it exists.  It's up to each one of us that has gone through it to talk about it, so people can see the difference between sadness and depression.  So people going through it can feel that there is an alternative to giving up.  And that is to live.  Maybe even living WITH it, but living nevertheless.  Nothing is worth taking your life.  Nothing.

I was here Before, I lost myself During, and I'm a force of nature After.  Let's start a conversation, it begins with recognizing it in one of your friends and talking about it.  It's not a secret anymore and you can be free of it.

If this resonated with you, please know there is an After.  You're in the saddle, be your badass self.

In Peace and Light,


July 07, 2017

Home is Where The Heart Is

Home is Where The Heart Is
The concept of "home" is one that I have, for years, struggled with.  Touring, living out of a suitcase on a tour bus or hotel, h...
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