It all started completely unexpectedly. Right after dinner, standing on the corner of Park and Chapel Streets in New Haven Connecticut. I was getting ready to say my goodbyes to my friends Rob and Lee when as if struck by lightening, I became completely dumbfounded.
I don’t know how else to describe this sudden overwhelming title-wave of emotion that overcame me. I stood before them unable to speak almost catatonic. I knew that this feeling although physical in its results, derived not from some physical malady, but rather from some deep cortex in my brain. I was totally overcome with fear and trembling. I stood before them as if I was watching myself from afar, completely self-conscious of myself so that for a few long seconds I was physically unable to speak or move. I simply stood there watching myself.
I was finally able to gain control of myself, whatever that means, and quickly said my goodbyes, but from that moment on that abrupt breakdown of my person completely changed me forever.
I went back to my small apartment on Parks St. feeling terrified and in a complete stupor. I had been anxious my whole life, so severe anxiety was nothing new to me. I battled with anxiety daily but this was a step into something way beyond my normal free-floating anxiety.
Without probably realizing it I was standing on a dangerous precipice of a complete mental breakdown.
From that moment on, my interior mental life has never been the same. I needed help.
I first went to a psychiatrist who was completely unhelpful if not destructive. He was distant, cool, rigid, and fearful to me, and seeing him only seemed to exacerbate my problems.
I often confronted myself in his office, finding myself unable to speak, sitting for long stretches, voiceless. He prescribed a severe anti-anxiety medicine Thorazine which completely exhausted me and I became completely useless. I stopped this medicine almost immediately and looked for a new physician.
I don’t know how I had the courage to leave him. This seems strange as he was so unhelpful but I have a hard time leaving someone even if they are destructive. Sometime later I found Dr. Millman.
And so . . . began my slow recovery from the abyss. For almost forty years Dr. Millman has helped me help myself. Through this long process of self-discovery I have found a true and lasting confidant.
What exactly has happened over these past years is very hard to explain but let me begin with the obvious.
Firstly, I became a photographer. This may sound easy but it went against the very fiber of my upbringing. He helped me allow this part of my life to flourish. There have been so many roadblocks along the way that he helped me fight off and allow me to focus my energies on my work.
But most importantly I began to understand myself and my feelings. How I thwart myself from succeeding, how I made others miserable with my anger and frustration, and most importantly no matter how unhappy or critical I am with myself he always believed in me.
This truly is his genius. All the while holding a mirror up to my behavior and expecting and hoping for more from me, he nonetheless has always been on my side. He is with me and has on occasion pulled me back from the abyss. For this Dr. Millman, besides being an extraordinary physician, I will always be grateful and proud to say, that I have true friend in you. Thank You.
This Post Has 4 Comments
Leo Cavallini31 Jul 2013
I stared some seconds at your doctor and the disc. Then I started reading this nice story. It immediately made me think the disc was a mirror, from that ladies from 20s. I scrolled up to be sure it was truly a spin draw and I wouldn’t find you and your camera reflected in the mirror. This version I created in my mind made all the sense for me.
Your work is great, thank him for me for helping you being such a great photographer 😉
Paul3 Aug 2013
Nice to know there are others out there I felt isolated till I read this.
Almost identical to my own experience. I am also a photographer.
Thank you for sharing.
jason gold8 Aug 2013
It was very brave to reveal.Very, very brave.
I think reading your blog, seeing the photographs,
give one a sense of who you are.
I would never have thought, that like me, great doubts. You found a supporter,a confidant and in many ways a mentor or muse.
I photographed a for a Lady in an alternate lifestyle.The Lady published a magazine.
I became entranced in the Lifestyle..
Slowly I was guided.
Later in Canada, i explored way deeper.
Another Lady became my muse.
The result was a whole new life.
An appreciation and confidence in self.
Maybe age, maybe years of dedication to my photography,My photographs became distinctly mine.
I love your minimal style, the perfection and symbolism.
Again,Thank you for sharing. jason gold.
Clay Olmstead11 Aug 2013
Thanks for your courage and encouragement to others to deal with their demons.
The disk makes me think of Hitchcock, or Mel Brooks – or both. The photo is an arresting image with much to ponder.
Comments are closed.