self-care

On Being Self-Judge-y

It’s been a hard Fall and early Winter. I’ve been depressed.

I didn’t do resolutions this year. I never stick with them. I got a new purse since I’d been thinking of getting a new one since November and I went back to a paper calendar from Target, instead of using Google Calendar on my phone as I’ve done for the past year or so. That was the sum total of the changes I made for the New Year. I have been making a half-hearted attempt at using My Fitness Pal again so that I can lose some weight. But, I haven’t been exercising, so I am only doing half the work and not seeing much progress.

We had a good vacation to see Jared’s family over Christmas. The trip lifted my mood for a good ten days or so. There was so much to do that I forgot I was depressed. I gorged myself on peanut brittle and it’s a miracle that I only gained three pounds during the holiday season, as much as I ate.

The adjustment to being back home after the vacation was hard for a day or two. Thus, the shopping for a new, modest purse and a paper calendar, neither of which were absolute needs, in an effort to shop my way out of being post-vacation depressed. Thankfully, my drive to pay off our debt outweighed my desire to spend, so I didn’t spend much. Christmas presents are still scattered around the first floor and my laundry and cleaning schedules are still not back on track.

The truth is, I’ve been kind of lost. I was all about the purpose of building a photography business until sometime last Spring, when all of a sudden I definitely wasn’t. Being a part-time professional photographer gave me a sense of purpose until it definitely didn’t. It was sucking me dry.

I am honored to have done the client work that I did. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that I’m kind of ruined for working for a boss, though, and unfortunately that includes clients. I still love photography. I still want to grow in my photography skills. However, I need to have a more personal connection to the pictures I create, as a general rule. It isn’t enough to create good work for other people.

I wore myself out trying to throw my soul into client work over the past year and a half. I don’t deal well with people having expectations of me. But I threw myself into the photography gig, as much as I was able, anyway. As such, I haven’t felt much like picking up a camera over the past few months.

The depression has been pretty bad. I slept a lot this Fall. I isolated myself. I’ve increased my light therapy time exponentially, trying to resist the need to start an antidepressant. I’ve questioned myself a lot, as to whether I was doing the right thing in closing the business, instead of just maintaining it for later in case I change my mind.

I think I am through the worst of the depression, which is why I can finally write about it.

Fall is always hard mood-wise, one way or the other.

The business is dissolved– I got final notification of the last piece of that last week– and there is a sort of relief. I am sure now that I won’t change my mind. But, I’ve been left to redefine myself all over again.

I found that by putting a price tag on my photography, it felt like it cheapened my work. I don’t just mean that I wasn’t charging enough, although there’s little question that I wasn’t meeting the market. I mean that I didn’t enjoy pricing my work at all. And, I honestly don’t think charging $2-3k for a wedding would have made it feel any more of a worthwhile endeavor, and it only would have brought on exponentially more stress to live up to the expectations of that kind of market.

I really will be happier being a hobbyist photographer and I understand now that I can continue to grow as an artist without having to earn a living to do it. And, I can still belong to the local artist guild because I am, indeed, an artist.

Best of all, I can still gift my photography skills to people when I want to do so. That makes my work feel priceless, because it is indeed not price-able.

See, I still have to go through all the bonus good stuff about closing the business because in some big ways, it still makes me feel like shit that I didn’t enjoy professional photography.

As is obvious if you visit this blog, I have taken on a 365 project. I intend to take on more personal projects as the focus for my future photo work. It took me a while to see the point in using anything other than my phone for the 365 project. But I made myself get out the real camera for it yesterday and now I can’t believe I was letting the phone camera suffice for so many days. I’ve spent so little time with a camera in my hands at home over the past few months that I’d forgotten how good it feels to just hold a camera and wander the yard, as I did in the light rain yesterday morning.

Because I am in a good mood at the moment, I can see that hobby photography and this blog and being a mom is gracious plenty focus for my life. In my darker moods, though, I beat myself up about being on disability and not being all that plus working a job outside the house. Those are the moments I feel lost and despondent. Those dark moods feed my already low self-esteem and it becomes a vicious cycle and I just want to sleep. In all honesty, I am the most judge-y person I know and I judge myself the harshest of all.

I am so thankful for Jared. He wants nothing other than for me to be happy. He doesn’t gripe when the dog hair piles up on the floor. He does laundry when I can’t drag myself out of the recliner to get it done. He loves me just as I am and doesn’t judge me and pushes me to resist judging myself. He’s held me together through this season of depression.

Now, to do my part to hold myself together. And, it’s time to pick up the camera lots more.

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