Thought Catalog
September 1, 2016

This One Photograph Can Save Me From My Anxiety

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Tom Cullingham
Tom Cullingham

Very often in the evening, when the world has gone to sleep and only the fairy lights hung on the walls are on, I find myself sitting in the middle of my bedroom, wrapped in a towel, withdrawn, my arms around my knees, and my hair still wet. I can feel the drops of water gently brushing and running down my back, my arms, and my chest. I can feel the tears flooding my eyes, burning my cheeks, and macerating my mind. I can feel my lungs tightening.

I can’t breathe.

I have what they call depression or generalised anxiety disorder. And there are very few things, which can appease me, when it hits. Eating chocolate, listening to Bach cello suite No. 1, cuddling my cat, hugging a friend, and… this photograph.

There is an English idiom that says ‘a photograph is worth a thousand words’… and I think it’s true. So I won’t pretend to capture the whole meaning of this shot. But I’ll try to explain why it somehow always brings peacefulness into my restless mind.

I like the dominant colour of the photograph, its inherent timelessness and its subject matter. I like the tiny details as well as the big picture. I like its flawlessness. I like the sky, I like the quirky bridge and I like the symmetry and the perspective. I like all of the evident and technical aspects of it.

But above all, I like it because of the way it makes me feel. Like it’s heaven on earth. I like that it’s surreal and comforting at the same time. I like that it’s permanent and immutable. I like that such a pretty thing can never go away or disappear.

I also like it because it reminds me of a golden past. I like the things it makes me think of. The strolls I have taken along the Thames with friends and family. The wind messing with my long hair, the salty breeze, the gulls squealing, the calming sound of the water lapping, and silence.

I like it because my best friend took it, and having his way of seeing things nicely framed, hanging on one of the four walls of my bedroom, reminds me of how lucky I am to have found a friend like him and that, because of that, I just can’t give up.

So I look at the photograph, I try to breathe again, and after a while, once the storm has passed, a calm comes invade my soul. TC mark

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