I left you last time by telling you about how I couldn’t get out of bed anymore, (and as you might have already guessed I was suffering from a depression) but to explain why, I need to backtrack just a little bit.
Why I got depressed
A couple of weeks before it happened, I was standing in the kitchen, holding a coffee filter. I open the can of coffee and I start measuring coffee for me and my wife. I pour fresh water into the coffee maker and turn it on.
While I’m waiting for the coffee to brew and am listening to the bubbling sound, I’m looking out the kitchen window. I think to myself “when did I start considering myself being a victim?”
I realised that I felt like life was happening to me, not for me, and that I was not in control anymore.
I decided that that’s enough. From this day on I won’t let myself or anybody else see me as a victim. I’m going to take control over my life again.
But it was too late. I had been struggling for too long. I had tried all the tips and tricks that I learned from my fellow photographers.
I had gone true trainings and attended numerous courses to get certificates to prove that I was a professional photographer.
I applied to a Swedish organisation for wedding photographers to get more bookings, and I also applied for a global organisation severing more adventurous brides.
I tried and did it all, but I still wasn’t making enough money to provide for my family.
Diagnosed with depression
And on top of that a lot of unwelcome thoughts started showing up in my head.
“I’m not smart enough.”
“If I try I will only fail.”
“There are so many other photographers that are better than me.”
“It’s just selfish trying to do this for myself.”
“I’m risking my family.”
“I’m not good enough.”
I started getting headaches and my ears were ringing all the time. My jaws were hurting. My neck and my shoulders hurt. I had problem breathing and it was hard to think clearly. I felt anxious and scared all the time.
Until one day I couldn’t get out of bed.
This was a really hard time both for me and my family. I realised that I had to get help, so I went to see my doctor and it turns out that I was suffering from a severe depression.
On a good day I just wouldn’t feel anything and on a bad day… well let’s just say that it was like a nightmare. That’s what depression will do to your mind.
Getting prescribed SSRIs
I was so depressed that even to start working on getting back on track I first had to have medication. Fortunately depression is treatable. So I started taking low doses of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), and gradually increasing the dose to have the intended effect.
The medication helped me from drowning, and getting my head above the surface, so I could slowly start swimming back ashore.
I joined a program for cognitive behavioral therapy, a CBT group. It worked wonders for me. It was hard and it was exhausting. After every session I had to sleep for the rest of the day, but I felt that I made progress. It also felt good to actually do something instead of just taking a pill.
How to move a mountain
I like to picture the CBT work as moving a mountain.
I could see so many problems with myself and with my life, that solving them all felt like moving a mountain – almost impossible.
But when I got closer to the mountain I could see that it was made up by rocks.
I started moving one rock, and fixing one problem, at a time. I started with the small ones. I’d take this small rock and I move it, and then one problem was out of the way. Then I would take the next rock and the next one, and the next one. One after another. After a while I felt stronger and started moving bigger and bigger rocks.
From a distance you couldn’t see much difference. There was still a big mountain, but I knew that I was moving the mountain bit by bit.
You will need support
That work took me a long, long time. I had to look deep into myself and I needed support around me.
I could never have done this alone (and if you’re in a similar situation I urge you to get help. I was took stuck in my own little bubble to see the bigger picture.) A severe depression won’t let you see the world as it is. I needed my doctor – I needed my therapist – I needed my family, to support me! And they all did, so I was really, really lucky. Thank you all!
Way Up North 2.0
Then something unexpected happened.
After moving this black, ugly mountain a little glimmering light, called Way Up North, came back into my life.
This time in the form of Way Up North 2.0 – a smaller live event in Stockholm, with only female speakers.
I went and that’s when things started to really change again.