This past quarter has been the roughest in my life, and I’ve been thinking a lot about if I want to disclose what’s been going on in my head and personal life in such a public way.  A year ago, I started this blog with the intent on sharing photography tips, product reviews, and adventures.  I wanted it to focus on my life as a photographer primarily, with antedotes of my personal life sprinkled in.  I wanted to inspire people and remind them that it is never too late to follow your dreams, that finding your own path in Life may be hard, but it can be worth it.  So in the end, I thought if I shared my story, perhaps I could, in some small way, help someone else who may be going through similar tough times, too.

I’ve thought about Death a lot this past quarter.  Death of Dreams, Death of Friendships, Death of What Was.  Death is all around us; we see it daily, whether it be a physical death or a metaphysical one.  I have experienced too much Death over the months.  I’m tired of mourning. 

I’ve thought a lot about Suicide this past quarter, too.  The morality of suicide, the stigma of suicide and the reasons people may commit suicide.  I don’t equate suicide as a selfish act or a sign of weakness. To me, it isn’t even a cause of death.  People don’t die from Suicide.  They die from Loneliness. Emptiness. Sadness. People who commit suicide may just want to not feel anything anymore.  Maybe because they feel too much. They may just want to not disappoint others anymore.  Maybe because they’ve seen so much disappointment.  They may just want to find peace, because they’re convinced it doesn’t exist on this Earth.  I get it.  I don’t condone suicide but I understand its appeal.  I’ve seen the Darkness and managed to turn away from it.  I want to help others turn away from it, too.  I want to be Enough for someone so they don’t feel like I’ve felt this past quarter.  I want to have Enough patience, Enough understanding, Enough time, and especially Enough Love for someone who may be in a difficult situation.  Because this quarter I felt like I wasn’t Enough.  And no one should ever feel that way.

I’ve thought about Life a lot this past quarter, too.  What is Life? What is Worth?  What is Life worth if it wears you down so completely that the only thing you want is to not break down the moment someone shows you kindness, or asks you how you’ve been. Life is cyclical.   It has Ebbs and Flows.  Joys and Disappointments.   Sickness and Health.  Want and Plenty.  It isn’t fair. But it goes on.  And somehow, we must find a way to go on, too, even when the odds seem so set against us.

I know what you are thinking.  ‘This is a piece about depression.  Kelly is depressed and  uses too many conjunctions to start her sentences.’  Ha!  Keep reading.  This isn’t about depression.

These last few months I’ve gone into hiding.  I hid from friends and family, from photography and even from myself.  I have decades worth of practice of smiling through pain and convincing others that everything is fine.  I even have a photography project called 365 Days of Awesomeness to convince the world and myself that all was well.  But it wasn’t.  For 401 days I experienced an unimaginable Hell that seemed unending. Sure, there were a few good spots mixed in, in an attempt to have some sort of balance, but the last 90 days or so were almost unbearable.  Those were the days when I finally understood that people’s compassion has a time limit.  That it is easier to lie to someone than it is to admit to them that your life is still Shit because you know they no longer care, even if you are still fighting like hell to improve your circumstances.  Thanksgiving Day 2015 is not a fond memory.

But one day, Life was better.  I wish I could tell you the exact day or even circumstance when I realized this but I can’t.  I just knew that my life wasn’t As Shitty and I took that realization to mean that things were turning around.  The tide had started to flow and I was thankful.   

This isn’t a piece on depression or even about tough times.  This is about redemption.  Those 401 days changed me.  I’m not as trusting of others as before and hopefully not as naive.  I’ve seen great pain and sadness and may have even caused some, but I now know the true value of kindness and joy.  I survived on little and now feel compelled to give much.  I lived in Darkness and now yearn to be Light.  I’ve found myself again.  There is much work that still needs to be done. But the benefit of hitting rock bottom is that you have a firm foundation on which to build upon.

A few days ago, I came across this verse:  ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit‘ (Psalm 34:18).  I was surely brokenhearted and crushed but I had forgotten that I wasn’t alone.  The name Kelly means ‘Warrior Woman’ and I will take that meaning to heart.  I will keep fighting and when I’m knocked down again, I’ll get right back up.

Life is hard.  It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself and your situation.  It’s OK to think about Death.  It’s even OK to think people are assholes because they don’t understand what you’re going through.  But it’s never OK to give up.  2015 was anything but awesome and those 401 Days almost killed me.  But on the eve of 2016 I see Promise and after everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve been through, that’s damn impressive.

Here’s to Redemption and Promise.  Happy New Year.