late 2014: Fighting for my life
After fighting 24/7 for my dream for months on end, I burned out in summer 2014. Within the course of a few weeks I became mentally ill with severe clinical depression, psychomotor retardation, (social) anxiety and panic attacks.
My whole life and dream shattered in a million bits and pieces.
I was unable to take care of the label, sustain myself - let alone take one single street photo. Besides that, my long-term relationship fell apart as well.
To not end up on the street, my parents took me in again. In debt, heartbroken, mentally ill and with no perspective I spent the next half year bed-ridden in the tiny village where I was raised.
If you've never experienced clinical depression, bless you! It's almost impossible to imagine. I guess a nightmare is a close as it gets. You are going through hell in your sleep, but then you finally wake up and it's over.
With depression, you wake up into that nightmare in the morning. Everyday life feels like torture. Everything's grey, negative and dark no matter how much you used to love it.
That's why I call it soul cancer. It eats away your love for anything you ever loved from the bottom of your soul.
It was the second time in my life that this happened. In my early twenties, I had the dream to work in advertising. I made it to one of the top agencies in Germany, but burned out after two months since I had a side job next to my 10-hour agency days.
Ever since I was 18 years old, I was financially on my own due to the loss of our family business. I worked 40 hours a week in college to afford it. Not that I had any time to study, but I was too poor to afford the books. That's why I had to copy half of them and the rest I learned by reading my friend's summaries.
I captured the photo above in 2014 to illustrate how depression feels like. You see the light, love and warmth, but you can't feel it.
Although I was too sick to pursue my dream, I submitted my street photos to a few awards. In October 2014, I not only won a local contest, but was crowned as the Urban Photographer of The Year 2014.
To be honest, it put a brief smile on my face and then I sunk to the bottom of the ocean again. The smile you see in the photo below - yeah, I practiced that for days on end for the ceremony...
Every day I fought for my life. Due to my fatigue and psychomotor retardation, I could barely lift a pen. I considered it a huge mile stone when I got out of bed at 3:50PM instead of 4PM.
Tiny victories led to bigger ones. I couldn't believe it when I gained the courage and energy to leave the house for the first time in months.
I fought the devil in me for more than 200 days in a row - day in and day out...
...till I finally knocked him the fuck out with tears, sweat and blood on my hands!