Of course I haven’t figured anything out.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, I’m not sure I’ve figured out everything that’s going on with me. But I’ve got a hunch. So much has happened in my life these last three years, I’ve completely changed my life, moved away from Stockholm back to the north of Sweden where I’m originally from (yes, I still keep repeating that as if it’s some sort of mantra and justification for me living there), I’ve spent more than one of those three years traveling, and yes, there’s a pandemic still doing the rounds across the world. I’ve started my own business and progressed as a photographer. So, good things have happened. But also a lot of bad stuff, like being bitten by a Dobermann that was on a leach but still attacked me who was minding my own business on my way to the bus stop. I was in Sri Lanka when the horrible economic crises became apparent and I could feel the desperation in the country when the fuel and cooking gas was running short, and the inflation was going up, while not as many tourists as expected were coming back. In general, traveling as a single woman, especially during a pandemic, is very special. When I came to Bali the island had been closed for tourists for two years and, even if I was taken care of were well, it’s still a bit spooky being one of the few guests at a hotel. It’s also the first time I’ve been away from Sweden for such a long time. Let’s just say, not all of the past three years of my live have been super nice. What is happening to me right now probably goes back much further than three years, because some things in life hits you harder than others.
I realised last autumn that I was probably having PTSD, and not just from one event. Bad things happen to all people, to some more than other, and this last decade or so, has been filled with things that have made me feel like the ground underneath my feet was opening up. Some of those events I’ve processed and moved on from, and some I haven’t. Last autumn I asked myself, “What happens with all of those unprocessed PTSDs, do they accumulate on top of each other or what?”.
Think I know the answer to my question now. While traveling, and especially since I’ve come back to Sweden, I’ve been doing a lot of crying. Which I think is good in some way but it completely drains me of energy as well, and I’m not one of those people who look pretty when they cry so you can see the signs on my face for 24 hours afterwards. Oh, I’m showing signs of vanity as well. Anyhow, I think I’ve sort of reached a point where all my accumulated PTSDs are telling me that I’ve had enough and need to deal with things, or at least, not to try and cover them up and just keep going. I remember many times these last ten years where I’ve felt that I just want to give up and cry but then told myself that this was not the place and time to do that, and just pushed myself to keep going. I think my crying is also a protest against the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you harder” since I don’t want to be hard, because then I lose my focus as a photographer, I need to be soft and sensitive to my surroundings otherwise I can’t see the world around me and take the photos I want to.
Yesterday evening I was searching online for what might be wrong with me and found a book on Amazon, which I haven’t bought or read, but I’ve read the brief, and it talks about multiple PTSD that just keeps accumulating which sounds like what’s happening to me at the moment. I’m doing a lot of crying, and I don’t even recognise myself and my thinking sometimes. I think my life is difficult right now, and I feel a bit lost with so many important decisions to make.
So, what have I figured out then? I realised that if I ask myself what “me” four years ago, would think of my life at the moment helps me today. Me four years ago would think that my life today is great! I’ve dared taking the step of quitting a job I didn’t like at all, moved away from a place I didn’t like anymore and left the apartment I didn’t like in the first place and just bought because it was affordable in a ok neighbourhood. I’ve dared doing all of those things and I’m working on making my life be the way I want it to be. She would think that what I have, and what I am doing, is amazing.
Thinking like this really took me out of my misery today and brought me back to where I really am. Of course I still have lots of things to work through, and process, but I can’t be in that place every minute of every day so taking a step back and ask myself what me four years ago would think of my life right now makes me appreciate how far I’ve come.
These photos in this post of course have nothing, and everything, to do with the text. It is photos from Bali that I’ve submitted to two photo exhibitions. And me four years ago would be amazed that I had the courage to submit my photos to a photo exhibition, and maybe even more impressed by the fact that I’ve spent nine months during a pandemic traveling around Asia photographing surfing, but she would have no clue what a global pandemic was. She would also be impressed of the photos I’m taking. So, thinking like that helps me, maybe even in the long run and not just for the moment.
Disclaimer: of course I don’t have any knowledge of all the research and theories behind PTSD, I’m not even sure I have it but according to the descriptions I most probably do. And, it seems likely and logical that I’m suffering from it. There’s also a lot of stress in my life with the photography business, and everything else, which also has a huge effect on my mood. Life is uncertain and unpredictable, especially in the stage of my life that I’m in. Anyhow, in this text I’m just writing about how it is for me, and what I need to remind myself of, and ask myself, to re-focus on. And to enjoy the life that’s going on around me.
So, enough of this, but I could write so much more. And maybe I will, in one form or another.