This week’s photo are from a walk into Liverpool from a few years ago.
What do I want?
Finishing a double espresso on my expensive and leaking coffee machine I read about people cleaning floors at 5am to pay for film for their camera because they are that passionate about photography. I... used to be.
I remember the excitement of getting my first DSLR, a Canon 10D, and I photographed all the time. I remember using the macro mode on my little Canon A70 to photograph a dandelion. I was stunned to see the little hooks on those floaters that freely float around for that one day a year. Photography took me places and let me see amazing new things. I loved it. Today though... Today my mind is fractured, broken, exhausted and clouded by depression.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Ok two things here. 1. What do I love doing? shrug 2. If you are able to do what you love chances are people won’t pay and that’s why you’ll never work a day.
I have no idea what I love to do any more. Video games don’t appear to help with my mental health. Being a photographer and exploring the world with my camera for some reason feels hollow or empty. Did I take my camera out yesterday and enjoy taking photos? Sure. Have I excitedly edited them and put them out to the world? Nope as I have no idea why I would any more. I built a new site 5 months ago with the ambition to make a new thing. I haven’t been inspired to make anything for it. I have fleeting ideas of making an app but no actual ideas of what it would be. Should I be coding again? Should I buy an electronic keyboard and try to make music again? Should I be spending my time watching and streaming on twitch? What the hell do you want brain?
I’m exhausted. I’m empty. I might be burnt out from 2 years of thinking “What do I want to do?” Nothing has come to mind. Well that’s not true. I’ve made this newsletter. I’ve built a twitch channel. I’ve even made a loaf of bread. There are things I’ve made in an attempt to not “work a day”.
A year ago I wrote about my fears of starting Twitch only to find myself one year into it with no audience. That’s where I feel I find myself today. This fear was based on how I’ve failed to grow any social media account. I’ve failed to grow this newsletter. I’ve seen numerous people get diagnosed with ADHD or as autistic while I’ve been working on things and I’ve seen them grow and succeed. My brain responds with “You suck.” Even if I could work and fight through everything my swollen testicle of a brain throws at me to know what I love to do there’s enough evidence to suggest that “I’ll never work a day in my life” as I can’t make it “work”.
I’m stuck in a cycle of even if I figure out what I love to do I’ll fail at making it work. So why bother?
The other day I sat at my desk and it felt wrong. I couldn’t say why exactly, simply wrong. I didn’t know how to fix it. I sat there for hours staring at it trying to make it just work. I pondered and pondered running through possibilities and positions. Nothing worked in my head. So I set to tidying it. I took everything off the desk. Cleaned. Vacuumed. Redid all the cabling so it was neat and now I have a clean and tidy desk. It’s good. Is it “right” or “perfect”? No. Is it finished? No. Will it be a mess by the weekend? Probably. Right now it’s at least neat and I feel a bit better about it.
Is there something to this? Maybe all I’m doing is focusing on the big picture and trying to fix that. Maybe what I really need to fix is something else entirely? Maybe the work I need to do so I’m not working a “day in my life” is not the work I think I need to be working at? Or something. I’m not alone in this thinking. There’s a series of games called Dark Souls that are horrendously hard to complete but the point is that if you fight from the wrong place, mentally, then you’ll loose. The game “helps” you take a step back and come at the battle from a different perspective. They’re interesting games and they seem to echo what I’m going through.
I know these are unprecedented times but I can’t help feel like everything I loved to do has failed me or I’ve failed it and there’s enough evidence to suggest that anything I try will fail. Well, not everything. I do have a clean desk now. Is that a strong enough idea to cling onto to fight burnout and depression? It needs to be because I do love photography, video games, and writing regardless of whether I have an audience or not. I know I love these things even if my brain right now is so broken it can’t.
But I have evidence to say that if I try I’ll fail... so... shrug
- She Shot John Belushi, and Other Bad Boys | The New Yorker
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- Laura Kate Dale on Twitter: "I'm in talks with a publisher about creating an anthology of positive joyous essays by autistic authors. Looking to pay folks £200 for a 2,000 - 2,500 word essay. Accepting pitches currently. See thread for more information." / Twitter
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- Latest coronavirus advice from the National Autistic Society (UK)
Toxic positivity affirmations are bad, and so is this.
It goes without saying.