I don’t know, maybe it isn’t the right time or place to write anything about this… writing about covid/mental health on the photography website blog. But this blog, these posts, this studio Picture Perfect NY, isn’t just about business, it’s personal, it’s very VERY personal to me. It is like my fifth child. It is very true, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, that the success of the studio is really due to Angela’s hard work and dedication to it. The sleepless nights, the research for the sessions, the drives to other states to pick up props… while kids are sleeping at night, Angela is preparing for the sessions, brainstorming, coming up with new sets, taking already what we have a modifying it – then setting up the scene and ending up with a new setup. I could never do that, I’d never be able to do that… It is her, it always has been her, but wasn’t always.
I’m no stranger to mental breakdowns, so this is very important to me; and I think after this blog post, I’ll have people who’ll never contact PPNY and others who might find some commonality.
In 2001, while already being in the video/photo industry, I got into EMS. I Volunteered EMS for a few years, worked for the city for a few years all while also working photography.
Finally, in 2006, my dream of becoming a physician was supposed to come true. I went to med school, I left EVERYTHING behind (friends, family, careers that I liked, such as photography and ems) and went to another country to study medicine. Well, ONE above had a different plan for me. Short 4 yrs later, I had fewer friends, no job, no money, SHIT LOAD OF LOANS. 2010, I have two little babies, an amazing wife, who is truly the backbone of our family. At that time, I thought the most important thing in my life – medicine – and I didn’t have that.
As hard as it came, it left in a snap of the fingers. Talk about mental health… talk about losing battle, talk about suicidal thoughts and attempts… yep been there and successfully failed at it ( THANK GD!!!).
It was really, again thanks to Angela that Picture Perfect NY was born. When the dreams ‘burned’ to the crisp, Out of the Ashes, Picture Perfect NY was born. Angela said, ‘well you know the photography industry, why not?’ So we did exactly that. I was editing for another studio, saw a crappy pixel on a smaller monitor, and Angela called me a perfectionist, I replied, ‘yep, every picture has to be perfect’ we looked at each other and the name was born in January 2010.
Fast fwd to 2020 nearly ten years of working 7 days a week, two jobs, weird hours of the day and night. The editing laptop always went with us on vacations – kids went to sleep, we sat down to edit… we made a promise and commitment to our clients to deliver images, and regardless of where we were on the planet or even up in the air – they were edited and delivered once access to the web was available.
November 23, 25, 27. Those days, I’ll never forget: On November 23rd, 2011, my grandma fell into a coma. Angela and I were in the studio doing a newborn session, baby was fussy, the session was nearly 4hrs – we didn’t stop, we finished, then went to the hospital. On Nov 25th we took Granny off life support and I held her hand as her heart went into different rhythms… On that day, she taught me to LIKE nursing. On her death bed, she taught me the second umbrella of nursing care – dignity. On Nov 27th, we buried her in the morning, in the evening I was photographing a wedding. No such thing as call out from a wedding. There are many instances like these in the last 10 yrs: I worked a weekend worth of weddings with a fractured shoulder, or Angela, WHILE HAVING CONTRACTIONS, was photographing a newborn session and then 2 weeks post-op/c-section was photographing another newborn baby. Even as I’m writing this, in 2020 Angela is in a tremendous amount of pain from a torn shoulder, disk herniation, and yet – photographed several newborn sessions – why – b/c we made a commitment to be there for our clients…
Nine months ago…, well we all know what happened, and I wrote about it. So why write now? – I don’t know maybe it’s cathartic, maybe, this will help someone else who is in a deep hole and feels they can’t get out. Angela always says that it’s the little things in life that matter most, it’s the little details that can make or break a session (thank God!! she’s running the show) and it’s true – it is the little things. A family dinner is more special. Seeing a loved one is more special. Seeing a friend at work is special. Seeing my kids cry b/c they are stuck at home is heartbreaking. Trying to explain to 11 y/o that I’m sorry he can’t go to school for reasons such as A__B__C___ is heartbreaking. Then I start questioning those reasons, are they legit?
I took a few philosophy classes in college and often left the lectures with more questions than answers, I feel like I’m reLIVING those classes now… I have more questions but no one has the answers. I can’t go into the store w/o a mask but are masks really working? There are research and evidence for and against… both seem valid. Schools are closed – remote learning, HOW THE F****, do I teach a pre-k and kindergartner? I mean, I’ve conducted few photography workshops, I’ve trained new RNs, but that’s easy – these were adults with some preconceived notions and understandings… These are kids, these are our kids, my kids… Talk about another successful failure? Am I failing my kids b/c I can’t teach them? Feels like I am. How is sitting in front of a youtube video supposed to teach the kids anything? Great, got a tutor to help them, THANK GOODNESS for that. Luckily Angela and I are blessed b/c we do have the studio and we are thankful for EVERY CLIENT that comes to us, especially during these times… you’re helping us to feel less of a parent-failure b/c at least we can make a living and provide for our kids.
The psychiatrist in the hosp, while making his rounds, came up to me a few weeks ago and asked ‘how are you doing?’ ‘How are you feeling?’. I have a lot of respect for him and appreciate that he came to me, especially since none of the patients I worked with at the end of that corridor had any psych issues, so he did come to me but ‘how am I feeling?’ I don’t know how I’m feeling. I’m VERY confused… I guess? maybe? that’s how I’m feeling? I’ve overheard a conversation and then kind of became part of it, this PTSD shit, is real. I have the OUTMOST respect for our Military and MOS vets but I never experienced PTSD until a few months ago. I mean reliving those mental images over and over – damn, that sh*t is painful.
So how am I ‘dealing’ with it? Trying to talk about it. Whatever goes on in the hospital, stays in the hospital – mostly my friends/coworkers from medical life, we can understand the medical and ethical aspects of the daily struggles, we laugh and cry, we hug and cry more…. all while wearing the masks.
Never underestimate the power of a true hug, I mean a hug from the heart. I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of those… it’s the people during those moments that make me go on, that allow me an opportunity to decompress in a stressful environment and come home being less wired up. During these crazy times, either working in nursing or photographing are the only times where I feel that I’m positively contributing to the world… other times, I’m just hoping not to screw up my kids up.
I have no idea if I’ll even post this blog, I mean, it’s organizationally a NIGHTMARE 🙂 I’m writing what is on my mind. I spend 12 hrs in the hosp, now home editing a holiday session and these crazy thoughts, I just needed to write.
I have friends in my hospital life who have contemplated ending their lives. It’s a topic I very much understand and I wonder though – the ones are talking about, might feel that way but willing to talk about it, to get rid of that pain, get rid of these feelings, but how many people are so depressed that they don’t want to talk about it, just go for it – to end the PAIN?! – Well here’s one source that would answer that: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm. Damn it!!!
This whole thing, it is like a fricken thriller movie but it’s real. Maybe it’s a Matrix and just needs to change the code, or maybe it’s just a bad dream, like Friday 13 – Jason – sleep and we are all sleeping? and this is ‘just a nightmare’? but isn’t real?
The pain, the agony, it is real.
I don’t exactly know what I wrote above, I feel that if I read it, I’ll edit it and then it won’t be real, it won’t be genuine! Maybe this blog will never see the light of day or maybe it’ll help someone. Maybe someone who’ll read this will see that he or she isn’t alone and others feel similarly. Maybe, just maybe instead of getting drunk like a skunk and ending up being my patient with an IV banana bag, that person will call a friend, a family, mental health professional, hellz call us… I can’t imagine that conversation, but sure, we are people too and also dealing with crap, just please – DON’T do anything that you’ll ultimately regret.
Love your family, kiss the spouse, kiss the kids, hug your friends, tell people how you feel and know – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!