Analog Forever Magazine has a contest going on this month where they call for you to enter up to two photos that expresses solitude and what it means to you. I was really excited about entering this contest because solitude is something I’ve been familiar with my whole life. I was always a loner as a kid and as I’ve mentioned in my blog before, I have found it hard to fit in. Therefore, I figured this would be easy for me.
It wasn’t. I entered two photos, but I also decided to write this blog post to tell my version of solitude.
The definition of solitude is:
– the state or situation of being alone
– a lonely uninhabited place.
For most people solitude is a rare and sought after occurrence that they can’t wait to experience after a long day of work, or taking care of their children. For me solitude is being lonely even when I’m not alone.
I have always felt misunderstood and out of place. When I was a little girl I suffered badly from anxiety. I got sick to my stomach everyday at school. I’d cry in front of the whole class. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and apparently neither did my teachers.
Today awareness is a little better for it, but in the 1990s anxiety was a weakness. It was all in your head which meant you must be able to control it; which also must mean you’re causing it yourself. I’ve been told that so many times in my life. There is nothing worse when you are dealing with a mental illness like anxiety, or a disease like Crohn’s Disease, than being told it’s your own fault. That has to be one of the worst feelings in the world.
I’ve learned now that I’m older, that of course is not true. I didn’t cause myself to have this disease, and I don’t cause myself to feel anxiety. It’s a mixture of genes and environment, two things I cannot control and couldn’t control when I was a little girl. What I can control is how I deal with these things. I’ve learned that I can’t stop the hurricane, so to speak, but I can deal with it, and prepare for what it leaves in its wake.
So how can I show this through a photograph? That was the issue for me with this contest. Most entries will show a person standing in a crowd or a person alone in a vast area of land. Which is great, and does express the literal meaning of solitude.
For me solitude is in my bathroom. . .
Solitude is taking pictures in my backyard everyday by myself because I can’t get out and shoot with others while my legs are being affected by my medication. . .
Solitude is dealing with things others will never imagine in their lifetime and having no one understand what you’re feeling. Even others with the same disease may never experience the same things as one another. One of the worst characteristics of Crohn’s disease and Colitis is that every single patient gets it differently. This makes it so much harder to treat and so much more isolating. Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking an unknown language when I try to explain my life to people.
I didn’t really know how to express this through two photos entered in a contest without any context. I couldn’t send them a picture of my bathroom and expect them to understand how that represented solitude for me.
Photography has been a saving grace for me. I often express my solitude through my photos without realizing it until I see them come back from the lab.
That’s why I started my YouTube channel. It’s a way for me to connect with people. That’s why I started posting my photography on Instagram. I’ve met some really nice people on there and it makes my life feel a little less lonely.
I was actually inspired to write this blog after reading Jim Greys blog about his own experience with anxiety and it gave me the nerve I needed to share my own. So shoutout to him.
For those of you who are reading this and you are experiencing the feeling of solitude because of a disease or illness, share with me in the comments or DM me your version of solitude. I’d love to hear from you. How do you express it through photography or art?