a personal photography project & journal



Fuji X-T1 35mm f1.4 Settings: ISO 800 f/2.8 SS 1/125

Fuji X-T1 35mm f1.4 Settings: ISO 800 f/2.8 SS 1/125

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told I feel ‘too much’.

In fact, last year, I wrote in a post: In a world of primary colors, my emotions span a full kaleidoscope of hues. Each one breaking off into another unidentified, blindingly deep shade.

Three months ago I sat in a bar, at 2pm on a Wednesday, after shooing a menu away & downing a shot of Maker’s Mark & two beers. In that moment, I decided to fuck all that noise. Because something had been brewing inside me for years & I was finally ready to unleash it. If I were some sort of protagonist, we might consider it my rock bottom plot twist, but I feel like I spent so many times sinking myself to the ground, it definitely took awhile for me to finally float.

As a child, my parent’s divorce was a nightmare. It doesn’t even need repeated mentioning because I lived it. But suffice to say, it was terrible. As a child, I would spend weekends with my paternal grandparents. So distraught, I would wake every night & vomit. So common was this occurrence, my grandmother just started leaving a metal bowl by my bed. Eventually, I just stopped waking & instead would throw up in my sleep, awaking to find my hair a tangle of mess & acid on my pillow. My mother was convinced this was because I was spending weekends with my father. Most everyone else knew it was more likely because I would eventually have to go back to my mother & endure the onslaught of questioning about my weekend away.

My mother took me to our very old-school doctor. He was gruff & had huge hands & would wobble through his sterile smelling, subway-tiled clinic with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. He diagnosed me with a ‘nervous condition’ & prescribed me a green liquid to drink whenever I began to feel… nervous.

Years later, when I was 16 I wrote my mother a note telling her I was ready to kill myself. Unknown to me, she made an appointment with our brusque physician & when we walked into his office, his gravely voice said - So, your mother said you want to kill yourself. Smoke wound up around his tilted head as he studied me. He proceeded to take every vital sign & blood sample he thought might give some insight & finally said, Listen, I don’t think you’re a bad kid. But I think you should talk to my friend who’s a psychiatrist. He’s a nice guy.

I saw the psychiatrist once. The second time I was scheduled to go, I sat in the backseat of my parents car. When my mother exited the car to pick my sister up from daycare, she’d asked my step father to inform me I wasn’t going back because she didn’t think it was helping me. The truth being, she was furious the psychiatrist hadn’t told her what I’d said during my first appointment.

My body was done fighting. My tiny soul so very tired.

As an adult I was continually told to be still. Don’t be so upset. Don’t be over dramatic. Don’t have such a large reaction, Trisha. Just calm down. Why do you over exaggerate everything all the time?

One time, when my two oldest children were little, my husband came home to find me in tears. I had been watching Oprah, as we all did in the early 2000’s. The topic had been women suffering with manic depression.

I think I have depression, I told him. I really think something is wrong with me because I have these thoughts, terrible thoughts, & I just feel so very alone.

No, he insisted. Your life is great. You just watch too much Oprah.

So I soldiered on. Because that was what was expected of me. Don’t break. Don’t crack. Don’t overreact. Don’t be ridiculous. Don’t make anyone else uncomfortable.

Move every three years. Deal with your husband constantly being gone. Be a single parent. Deal with being a new person in a new town. Deal with having new friends & a new home. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. How lucky are you to experience all these new & wonderful things?

And somewhere along the way I believed this. That my feelings were nothing more than an exaggeration. My feelings were a barrier. Between me & my apparent reality.

Until now.

And now I know my feelings - those inconvenient triflings...

Those feelings are my mother fucking super power.

Are you going to go back to writing? Courtney asked me recently. Perhaps some of you have been wondering the same thing. In full disclosure, I put a pause on Medicated Like Me because, as I sort of anticipated, the things I was writing were making people upset. I wasn’t told to stop point blank. But I was told - you say a lot of things online, Trisha. The implication was clear. Some things shouldn’t be talked about. Some things shouldn’t be shared.

In that moment I was reminded of the reason I hesitated to make this public. Because I knew that the knowledge that people were reading this could possibly inhibit what I would say. But another element of Medicated Like Me is the journey you’ve been taking with me. And I am in a much different place now than I was when I started, so I feel I owe you a bit of something because you were here when it was the worst. When I was writing from a place of so much pain, I could barely see out of the words on the screen. I can only imagine how hard it was to watch this tender, raw wound open itself up to the air for healing.

At almost 40, I have come to realize I’ve inadvertently spent my entire life surrounding myself with people who, themselves, struggle to process difficult emotions. This was such a painful parallel to come to realize. And frankly, I can’t even fully describe the grief it brings me. Coincidentally, in January of this year I finally had to cut myself off from my mother, which with it, brought a whole other layer of grief I wasn’t prepared for.

Humans cling to their origins. We long for the mother connection so deeply, it’s a part of our DNA no matter how much we think we’ve moved past it or don’t need it. But in the end, if the mother wound is too great, and we have to choose life over a slow & extremely painful death, at some point we must choose life. Or at least, I must. Was this an easy choice? No. Was it necessary for my survival? Yes. And I am truly, deeply sorry for all of us involved. But the resounding truth in this matter was that I could no longer pass on another generational mother wound. So I decided to begin to heal it. I am healing me.

In early 2019, right now, I feel the strongest, most myself I’ve felt in years. My vision is fixed, my truth is firm, my heart is open to love - both giving & receiving. These feelings doesn’t come without occasional pain, of course. Like a deep spring that wells up from my chest, I can instantly feel both the rumbling & tingling. The sudden, resonant sound of magnification. The undercurrent that begs for release. And when that happens, I welcome it. I let the water come to the surface in humble acceptance because I know that these feelings, these tears, may they be fear or frustration, they are worthy of my time. They are worthy of release. And even at the risk of making another person uncomfortable, no one gets to convince me otherwise.

My job is now simply to love myself in the best way possible. So that I may learn to lean into those who will mirror that love for me. Or move away from those who aren’t ready to do the hard work for themselves just yet.

Be tender, be tactile. Protect your profound heart. You’re so very worth it.

Trisha Hughes4 Comments