Mental health / by Helen Arase

I think I'm pretty open about my health and mental health. But I'm realizing that I'm open about the past. It's hard to see you're going through something when you're in the thick of it. And then talking about it when it's raw... well that is tough. 

I am not going to lie - the last six years have been quite a rollercoaster. But I'm proud of where I am and how I got here. I think these experiences have lead me to I feel more and I'm open to feeling more.

I'm not going to paraphrase Gary Colby's philosophy of photography correctly, but he says photography informs everything and everything informs photography. So for example (kind of), a historical event happens and someone photographs it. The photo runs front-page and the world takes some sort of action. Alright. A person lived through that historical event and now sees the world differently and consciously or subconsciously takes that experience into account when photographing - different angles, lighting choices, timing, etc. I did not explain that well, but I agree with the idea. 

I would like to think I'm empathetic, a concerned citizen, sensitive but resilient and aggressive. These could be character traits that I've picked up or cultivated along the way, but I think it still holds true to this idea. Things have happened to me and now I am who I am. Right? I bring these to my assignments. When I'm out in the field photographing, I make choices because of things I know or experienced, or how I feel the situation needs to be approached. We all make different calls.

So back to health. I have been pretty down about the job hunt. I am refusing to settle. I think I'm being realistic about what I'm qualified for, so it's not like I'm trying to walk onto the photo staff of Nat Geo, but I think for some of the applications I put out I was qualified. And some I was a little bit under-qualified, but you never know. Maybe they will look at someone who doesn't have two years of professional experience. If I'm only missing that requirement... You never know.

I'm rambling. So I am deeply upset about the current status of my employment. However, it's only making me hungrier. I'm not sure if it's a healthy hunger, but I'm going to take advantage of it until I figure it out. 

On that note, I've decided to go back to therapy. You can only dump so much of your job search frustrations on your friends and family before they're sick of you.

So here's the point. I realized something about health and suffering and the correlation it has to my art and passion. I think the more I want to ignore my health and happiness, the more I want to work on random projects. Or not random projects. It's like uncomfortable procrastination - but productive. 

Why have I been doing so much food photography lately? So I can feel like I'm doing something productive without crying in front of my computer while searching JournalismJobs or wherever. 

I also think that when I'm on the other end of the spectrum, happy and obsessed with what I'm doing, I'm productive in arts and passions too. So maybe it's not so much sad = work, but I think maybe it's being numb prevents me from doing work

I want to get back into feeling excited. And working hard. So let's keep hustling through this rough patch until I get to show someone how hard I can work.