Thursday, November 20, 2014
Honesty is the usually the best policy
I usually don't wax personal on here at all...It's been a visual space and a creative outlet since I started, and a way for me to feel creatively productive and connected to other like minded people in the midst of daily grind hard type things like having to take crappy jobs to put your husband through law school while living in the most expensive city in the world...etc. Since moving here to Tokyo, keeping this blog up has been nearly impossible- and I'm going to attempt to explain why. It's difficult to convey because some reasons are obvious and concrete, but other reasons are in my head clouds, and there are more ineffable things holding me back and weird invisible barriers only I can feel and even I don't fully understand..
The most straightforward reason is, Ryan used to help me with photos and now he is never available when the sun is shining. I always had full creative control over the settings on the camera, the locations of the shoots, and the composition and feel of the shots, but if I hadn't had Ryan there actually taking them, and understanding what I was going for, and having a great understanding of how to use the camera and compose well, many many of the shoots over the years would not have happened. New York is the not the middle of nowhere, and I've never been comfortable taking photos of myself in front of a tripod anywhere where people can see me. Central Park is not one of those places my friends. And here in Tokyo, tripods are not even allowed at half the parks, grounds, museums, and public places, so I wouldn't have the option even if I did have the gall.
These days Ryan leaves early in the morning and comes home late at night (the sun sets at 4pm anyway though) and when he is home on the weekends, we have to use that precious time to run all kinds of errands all over the city because I can't do them on my own since I can't speak or read Japanese. He is usually exhausted from the work week and would rather just stay home and chill anyway, and since it's always so crowded anywhere on the weekend, and neither of us feel enough energy or motivation, taking photos just usually doesn't happen. At least not with the actual camera we own. Phone photos are just always so much easier, and no one wants to lug a DSLR around while housewares or grocery shopping.
Another reason is I, myself am not comfortable in front the the camera anymore. I don't know what happened, but I just hit a wall one day. Back in January. I wanted to be more productive taking photos that mattered and were getting me somewhere as an artist. I was becoming more and more aware of my physical flaws in photos and growing more self conscious with every blog shoot I tried to keep up. My depression and anxiety symptoms got a lot worse in different ways. I lost drive, motivation, and inspiration. I was self conscious about my skin. My nose. I gained weight over the spring and summer. I looked different. I felt different. I just wanted to take lovely photos of other people, but didn't really know very many people to ask in my very isolated situation. I had no connections and no resources in New York, and living there really discouraged me and sapped my energy. At least I was able to visit home (Utah) fairly often thanks to cheap air fare between salt lake and nyc, and there I did have inspiring scenery, open space, secluded space, family and friends, and people to shoot. Being able to visit home a lot of extended periods of time is what kept me sane during those three years I think.
The blog started to become a source of frustration and confusion. Why couldn't I do this? It's not that hard. Things that used to come very easily to me were a huge struggle now. I started to feel like giving up even wanting to do photography. I couldn't afford to use film like I really wanted. My DSLR had been having serious focus issues for over a year now and photos were finicky and shoots were unpredictable which was incredibly frustrating. I couldn't afford to upgrade my camera either. And everywhere left and right photographers were all over the place and I felt like I had nothing to offer, no prospects, and no way of moving forward. And even when we tried to make the time to make a shoot happen, once the camera was on me and I would have an inward freak out and clam up and feel ugly and awkward and incapable of taking a good photo, and would of course end up unhappy with the results, and too uncomfortable to post them. And it all started to feel like a waste of time.
Since moving to Tokyo and living here for months now, the extreme isolation has exacerbated my anxiety and depression and made me into a much less functional person. I hope people can understand that while I am living in a majorly cool city with a lot to offer, and I know I should feel grateful and appreciate my surroundings, when the context of my situation is coloured with being alone all the time, not being able to communicate with anyone or read anything to get around or buy things on my own- not having any support system at all- no friends or family, it becomes a very different experience than expected. I can only handle to so much alone and by myself before it starts to feel pointless and trite. Shopping alone gets old, eating alone gets old, walking around gets old after a few days in a row. I've tried job hunting. Long and hard. So far it has gotten me nowhere. There is also a lot of red tape bureaucratically speaking when it comes to trying to work and find a job when already in Japan without a working visa. I thought I'd have no problem jumping into an English speaking job, but the market is actually quite oversaturated in Tokyo so many listings ask for 6-12 months prior teaching experience, which I don't have.
So the lack of work has left me with a lot of down time alone, and the problem with down time when you are alone and you have depression and anxiety is that the time does not become productive time or meaningful time, or time in which to prosper and grow. It becomes time to drown and become buried in your worries and fears and trepidations and paralyzed by your shortcomings and misgivings. There is this overwhelming, overpowering feeling of feeling completely hopeless and helpless, and totally incapable to doing anything. Even dishes. housework. drawing. reading. Simple everyday things any normal person should be able to do all of the time become these insurmountable, intimidating blocks. I'm able to write with more self awareness now about the situation, since it seems to come in waves, but when you are in the middle of a big swell, your own ability to step back from it feels washed away. It doesn't really feel like you have the capability to understand your brain and chemicals and circumstances are conspiring to make you believe something that might not be true. It all just feels really true and bad and negative and real at the time. I don't know how to explain it well enough- and I'm not meaning for this to be a post full of complaints and negativity, but I did want to try to give an honest explanation about what is going on with me.
I'm in a place where everything feels pointless and too hard. I'm in a place where motivation and inspiration feel like long lost friends I used to know in grade school. I'm in a place where I don't feel like myself at all. I'm in a place where even my marriage and relationship with my husband isn't a solid, constant source of love, happiness, and steadiness, and as a very romantic idealist it has been pretty shattering. Especially in such an isolated situation where oftentimes my source of pain is also my only source for anything else. And I'm definitely in a place where even if I do have time to take photos inside at least, I just don't feel up to it, and I know I'll end up hating how I look, etc, and it doesn't feel like it matters or means anything anyway, so why bother. I know I'm not the first or only person to go through this, which is partly why I'm writing so personally and so frankly. I might regret posting this- I don't know. But maybe someone else needs to hear they're not alone or they're not the only one, and or maybe someone has invaluable advice for me who had been there.
I'm trying things that might help- eating healthier, exercising more (although I was just sick for 2.5 weeks straight :/ ) going to an English speaking counselor, trying to be better about staying in touch with family and friends, etc. And I'm really really looking forward to Christmas when I'll be able to visit home again. Hopefully I'll be able to come back to Japan after the break with some sort of renewed hope and hopefully a chance to start working and staying more busy.
As for this blog space- not sure what's gonna happen- but I'm planning to do some posts highlighting some artists/ independent shop owners I find interesting to at least have some sort of productive content. So stay tuned.
Posted by Kitsune-kun at 10:39 PM