Monday, November 25, 2013

Old journals & visual learning

When people describe themselves as a "visual person", I am never sure quite what that means. Having something demonstrated for me tends to cement how to do it, rather than having it just explained, but written instructions work well for me too. Sometimes I think that not fitting quite in the box of these learning types is part of my Executive Functioning Disorder, and maybe it is, but it's also just a fact of life that definitions tend not to be one-size-fits-all-in-the-group. Sometimes I forget that I have EFD because I learned to work around it fairly well, since I was not diagnosed until 16 or 17 years old. The thing I hate about it now is that being aware of it doesn't make it any easier when I can't handle tasks like most people around me do.

I used to photograph almost obsessively. I have hundreds or thousands of photos spanning from 2002 to 2013, from my first digital camera till now. That is not including all of the physical prints or negatives that resulted from my handiwork with the family camera and my own point-and-shoot. There are boxes at my parents house filled with unsorted photos, many of which I took. After my brother was born, nobody else had time to take them and for whatever reason, I was interested. I remember having to pay for my own prints at Walgreens and Cameras Inc. (local camera/electronics store down the hill from home & across the street from the high school) and seeing the price raise over the years.

What do I do with them now? Prints can be put together in albums. Digital photos just get stored. I can compile them, use them for identification purposes, share them as art, but they mostly sit un-clicked. I like to review them sometimes, I like the nostalgia, and its good for my awful memory.

I have boxes full of old handwritten journals too. I'm not sure exactly how far back those span, but I know there are at least two from middle school, black pages written on with colorful gel pens. I had friends write notes for me on the covers. Some of the journals were gifts, probably from my godfather (who has excellent taste) and some I bought myself. I kept a lot in high school and would replace them when they were either full or I hit a milestone. Sometimes it was a birthday, other times it was the new year or start of a new school year. At some point, I made a promise to myself that I have mostly kept: once written, I cannot go back and read the journal. I made exceptions from time to time, such as when I needed to go back and reference a specific date or event,

For a long time, writing in my journal was a daily habit. I had online journals as well, though many of those have been deleted. My blog is not really a journal for me. There is a lot here that I don't write about. It's too public, which is funny considering some of the things that I do write about here.

What do I do with these journals now? Sometimes I want to revisit them and see where I've come from. It might be helpful to destroy the mental image I've built of myself over the years. People like me tend to glamorize negative events and depressive states. After I was on medication for depression & anxiety, I felt uncreative. I felt like I'd lost my muse. Depression is a terrible muse and I'd almost like to know that I was not as prolific as I thought I was. It seems much harder to be creative now, when I mostly okay most of the time, but I don't understand why.

Journals feel a bit useless over time. I could go back and , but the words evoke a much stronger emotional response than pictures do. It is painful, most of the time, to read about how angry I was in high school. It is also incredibly sad because I know how out of control my emotions were. It is something that I only partially forgive myself for, if I'm being completely honest, even though I know that I was ill and suffering from depression. That is really the horror of mental illness, that it is so deceptive that it can convince you that nothing is wrong. Or that you are wrong.

Mostly, I want my work, even my personal work of photo-taking and journal-writing, to be productive. I just don't know what to do with the materials now.

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