Let me start off by saying that I am not the type of person who yearns for a pity party when feeling down or “misfortuned.” I’ve never liked asking for help when I needed it, and hate admitting that there might be something “wrong” with me. Throughout the majority of my life, for as long as I can remember at least, I’ve constantly been plagued with the fear that I am not normal, that I’m not good enough, that no one truly liked me; all crazy thoughts brought on by low self-esteem that seemed to stem from nothing. This constant fear dragged me down and threw me in a depression that began early on in high school. I’ve been treated for both depression and terrible social anxiety in which I still battle on a daily basis today.
The anxiety disorder that I deal with is truly demobilizing. Sometimes I truly feel that I am disabled in some ways, in that it’s so difficult to do simple, everyday things that most people can do without even thinking about it. Simple things like leaving the house to run errands, calling people on the phone, talking to someone I am not familiar with; It takes me a good amount of time of to talk myself into doing them and getting over the fear that something might happen, or that I’ll make a fool out of myself someway. This may sound completely ridiculous, and I agree with you, but it’s an everyday occurrence and is truly frustrating and discouraging. But I do have my good days where the depression releases it’s grip on me temporarily, and I’m in a great mood and no one can bring me down. It feels awesome! But sadly I almost dread those good days, as I know it will end soon and the let down is almost worse than the depression itself. So you’re probably thinking to yourself, okay this girl clearly need some therapy and meds. But I’m already ahead of you, and while talking to a counselor and taking anti-anxiety medications does take the edge off immensely, it’s all still there under the veil. I’ve come to terms with it, and it’s just a part of me I need to work on some more. I do not planning on living like this forever, I can tell you that much.
So why am I taking the time to spill my guts and what feels like “shaming” myself by admitting all of this? Well, I honestly want to say “I’m sorry,” to everyone who’s ever met me and unknowingly encountered this side of me.
But mostly to my clients. As you may know, I am a photographer, and make a living by photographing babies and families. I have been shooting professionally, officially, for 3 years this September. This job has brought me so much joy; I have met so, so many great people (some not so great), I get to watch children grow up through photographs and portrait sessions, I snuggle adorable, day-old babies and pose them and play dress-up. I get to do all of that, and get paid. It’s honestly a dream come true and I really cannot ever imagine myself doing anything else. I admire just about every client I’ve come to meet, and it is my goal to give them the best experience possible while working with me. For the first 2 years in business, I was doing awesome! I was soon booking sessions everyday. My name was known greatly throughout the Central Maine area and beyond, and people in the community recognized my work when they saw it. Twenty large 16×20 prints of my newborn images are hung throughout the local hospital’s birth center. This business fell into my lap, and I was embracing it to it’s full potential.
For the past 6 to 8 months, things have been awful, and it’s my own fault. I’m not even sure when or how it began, but my personal life was interfering with my business life. My depression and anxiety has skyrocketed, and I’m not sure I can recall a time that it’s ever been this bad. I had a couple unhappy clients due to not mailing items out soon enough, or I didn’t respond to a message in time. Most of them things that I believe every business has experienced a time or two. But a normal person would just handle them, make the situation right, and do their best to make their customer happy again. And that was my goal at all times, I’ve never, ever wanted to upset a client or intentionally mail an item late or ignore them. That is 100% the truth. But I have my bad day and good days as I mentioned earlier, and it seemed like the bad days were surpassing the amount of good days on average, and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of unread messages or voicemails from clients that I was having issues addressing. The stress and anxiety led me to take a day off, relax, regroup, and go back to it the next day. But one day off temporarily took my mind off of the anxiety and led to two days off, and then heck, a week off is okay. Before I knew it, it had been almost a month that I wasn’t dealing with these problems and it ended up making the situation entirely worse. I was hiding from these problems like a coward, worried that these people hated me and had nothing but negative words for me, and I will openly admit that I was legitimately scared to attend to these people. This has been happening for about 3-4 months, and I can’t even bring myself to login to my Facebook fan page to reply to these people to this day. It’s tearing me apart inside, and this anxiety is so god damn crippling that I can’t even click on a button to do it. I wish I could find the right words to explain to every one of you how frustrated, discouraged, angry, upsetting and disappointed this makes me, it fills me with rage and shame. I am not acting like a responsible adult and I am letting the anxiety and depression successfully run my life.
While I blame a majority of this problem on myself, it is fair to admit that the past 6 months of me and my family’s life has been absolutely discouraging and upsetting.
December of 2013, my hubby, my daughter (2.5 years) and I moved in with my father after facing a huge financial set back. He offered to let us stay in his house with him while we could tackle this money thing and have a fresh start. I will say that my father and I have a different relationship compared to some; he and my mother separated when I was just a few weeks old and I would visit him every Sunday growing up. When I was 15, there was a disagreement between us and it ended up being almost 6 years until we spoke again. I honestly can’t to this day tell you what the problem was, but what I can tell you is that I never expected us to go without communication for half a decade. He just didn’t call, didn’t write, nothing, so knowing me I just thought I wasn’t good enough (which I often felt with him) and he simply didn’t care anymore. But obviously we eventually spoke again soon after my daughter was born in 2011, and things seemed fine. But we accepted his offer, moved in with him, and things were pretty good considering our past. After just two weeks, he was distant, more irritable, and I could tell something was going to eventually happen. The day after New Years, he blew up and without good reason, kicked me and my family out of his house, clearly without anywhere to go which he knew. Later, his reasoning was that I “missed a day of cleaning the litter box for our cat.” Whatever. So we ended up at my mothers tiny utility apartment for two weeks until we could find a place to stay, as we had just used our entire savings to clear up our financial issue. So we were flat broke. But just a couple of days later, I decided to take a pregnancy test, as we had been trying for 2 years and before all of this “rearranging” began. We were finally pregnant. And while the timing wasn’t the best, it gave us a huge amount of joy and hope in a time that we needed it. We were elated. Soon after, my Hubby’s mother (whom I have never gotten along with) told us we could stay with her. Well it wasn’t more than a month until one of her drunken rages got the best of her and also kicked us out, as well as my camera, laptop, and hard drive which was thrown outside in the middle of winter. Her reasoning? Still trying to figure that one out. But what’s coincidental is that both my father and his mother are sad, alcoholics and I just should have known better. But we were desperate, what were we supposed to do? So back to my mom’s place we went, and just several days later we had our income tax return deposited in our checking account, and immediately moved into the beautiful house we now live in. For those 2 to 3 months, I had very limited access to internet to make attempts to correct the mistakes I had made with my clients. Did I mentioned I don’t drive either? Which, living an hour away at his mother’s house with only one car and him working 1pm until 1am when he arrived home. It was literally impossible to book session, get out to mail things, etc. I felt like the world was working against me and for a while I questioned whether I should just give up and do away with the business and get a regular 9 to 5 job where I knew I’d be bitter and unhappy. And while it may sounds as if I’m making excuses, I truly did my best to get things done when I was able to do so.
After moving into our new home, things were looking so good for us. We had a beautiful house, we were expecting our second baby which we had been trying for for 2 years, our moods were uplifted with most of the stress lifted from our shoulders. Life was alright, and I was making wholehearted attempts to contact clients and book sessions again. Two weeks after moving in, I had been feeling somewhat sick and cramped and it was making me a little worried. Two days later, we miscarried. I know that miscarriages are very common, but I truly felt like it was something I would never have to experience. Being the sensitive person I am, I took this so incredibly hard. I had loving family and a beautiful daughter surrounding me with support and for that I’m thankful, but I’ll be honest and say that it did not take away any of the pain and devastation, and this brought me right back down to the depths of the awful depression that plagues me.
It has now been a little over a months, and it’s just now getting a little easier to breathe and sleep at night. I know that everything happens for a reason, and I know that God has something in store for me. I will meet my sweet baby boy someday and I’ve come to terms with what’s happened. And while things still seem to be happening every so often to bring me back down, I’m holding on just a little bit tighter. My stepdad’s (the real man that raised me and is my true daddy) dad, my “Gramps,” passed away from cancer after a couple years of being sick, and about 2 weeks later, my nana (Gramps’ wife) passed away from cancer as well. It seems like things keep being thrown at me, so many losses of all types.
So now, here I am in the present day, and I think I’m finally healed and ready to get back to work, but it’s so important for all of my clients to know that it was never my intention to upset anyone, or to neglect you. I love my job, and I so thankful for all of you who have worked with me. I promise I’m not a bad person, but someone with a ton of baggage that’s doing their best. This anxiety may make it so hard to pick up the phone, or check my emails in fear of my feelings being hurt because I’ve failed at something, but I know I cannot run or hide from these things, and slowly but surely I will be making a full effort to make myself better and to get business back to where it should be. I miss sharing my work and scheduling sessions, it keeps me feeling normal and my happy self. So please know, I do understand your frustrations and I’m not intentionally try to upset you. I am slowly easing myself back into things, and I promise I will make things okay.