“Firsthand Accounts” is a photo series that portrays stories of ordinary people from all walks of life. This project offers a voice to the voiceless — unique individuals seeking to share lessons from their life experiences. In turn, these lessons, or “accounts” will serve as “firsthand” evidence to bridge a connection with a wider audience. All personal anecdotes documented in this series were organically collected through chance encounters in downtown Austin, Texas.
How can negative emotional experiences be transformed into opportunities for individual growth?
“This past August, the universe delivered to me the ocean as my higher power when in a deep depression. Though I cannot hold onto water, I can hold it in a special place in my heart. I love to take long walks on the beach to be in the presence of the water, and to witness the ocean’s vastness, blueness, and beauty.” — Sophia Falco
The following poem series describes the grief after a father’s suicide. They are part of a series in which the poet looks back at his childhood, but also to recent years when the poet estranged from his father during his deepening depression and alcoholism. Losing your parent is a hallmark of life, but suicide is not a natural event. At the time, the press announced that 21 veterans died daily in the US.
“Water Striders” addresses the mundane through a surreal metaphor. Focused on the abstract feeling of monotony or depression (or whatever it is the reader can find in it), “Water Striders” juxtaposes this with a fantastical realm, creating a mystical narrative of negative emotionality. Finally, when the protagonist breaks the cycle, the readers are left wondering whether this leads to something better, worse, or just different — we can’t know.
Mistakes or poor treatment in romantic relationships create tension and leave the individuals involved with a choice — to forgive or not to forgive? If the goal is to stay together, forgiveness is a huge part of moving on. But is the partner more likely to make the same mistakes or behave in the same inappropriate ways if forgiveness is granted? Holding the partner accountable might encourage changed behavior, but what if that doesn’t work? How do you know when the healthy choice is to forgive or to let go?
Depression seems like an obvious flaw in the human condition. The symptoms of depression (everything from apathy, social isolation, and anhedonia to emptiness, sleeplessness, and ruminations) can make engaging in daily life absolutely impossible. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” Despite what seems like an obvious evolutionary handicap, research has shown depression has a variety of hidden benefits, such as encouraging attention to detail, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. By acknowledging depression’s hidden benefits, we can alter the way it impacts us individually and societally.
How do we keep our emotionality in check? As a species, what regulatory mechanisms do we employ to balance negative and positive experiences? Does society influence our psychological balancing act, or is this primarily an individual responsibility?
Is depression something we have or something we are?