Once upon a time I knew who I was, for 7 years I ran a successful wedding photography business with my dear husband. I was Kat, Kat the Photographer. Together we built a great business, we won awards, we were sought after, we were featured in magazines and blogs, I knew who I was, I knew I was good at what I did. Even though I struggled to believe in myself, I believed in my work, I loved our clients, sharing their special days with them, capturing something amazing that they could cherish for ever.
Then, I had a car accident one day on the way home from a consult. My car lost traction on a wet road, and the next thing I knew I was spinning out of control, slamming into a rock wall, and rolling. The physical pain from the accident added to the mental pain of my anxiety, and depression which had been a lifelong struggle for me to cope with.
Within a few months I was struggling, physically the pain was intense, and it played havoc with my anxiety. I no longer believed in my ability to shoot a wedding in any circumstances, I started worrying and obsessing about the weather, the location, my health, and a multitude of other stressors. My depression became a constant companion, encircling me like a thick cloak. I became so stricken with anxiety about the future, and hopeless, the hopelessness was stifling. I lost myself, I didn’t want to live anymore, I collapsed.
We had to make the hard decision to close our business, to seek other arrangements for our clients, to let them down. Most were so incredibly kind, but even still it was terrible to need to admit that my health had failed. It was heartbreaking to let go off all the hard work, the love, we had poured into our business over the years.
My mental illness stole my identity. As our business closed, so did my identity. I was no longer Kat the Photographer. I was just Kat. Kat the nothing.