INSIGHT: Contemplations of suicide and how photography changed my perception of life

My name is Aaron Lam, and I’m glad to say that I’m no longer contemplating about committing suicide, but living my life to its fullest.

Don’t ask, don’t tell or was I simply in a state of denial? Being a victim of chronic depression with the constant fear that suicide is around the corner is certainly horrifying. It feels like you’re trapped in quicksand and any attempt to escape buries you deeper. Undoubtedly, it’s a significant ordeal and one that many people like you and I experience or have experienced, and ultimately endured.

I bottled all my anguish and emotions up. I would never feel content with my appearance, lifestyle, life choices or personality and would be overly self-conscious of what others thought of me. But one thing I’ve realised is that people choose to be around the people they love. Your family and friends love and admire you for who you truly are as a person – it’s a part of the human condition. So why bother impressing those who don’t see the value in you? If anything, it’s their loss, so don’t let them get to you and bring you down. Be true and stay strong!

Like anything in life, you don’t know how hard it actually is until you’ve experienced that sort of hardship, anguish and suffering yourself. It may be a cliché, but clichés hold their truths.

Depression affects one in five Australians aged 16 – 85. Imagine the sheer amount of people that would be experiencing depression around the world. For all you know, your parents, sibling, neighbours, friends or family may be experiencing depression and have decided to also conceal their emotions like I did. When I revealed everything to my friends and family, it may have seemed like a surprise, but I’m currently on the road to recovery and will never fall back into depression. If I do I’ll remember all of my family and friends who have supported me on my journey.

Photography has and will always be my means to escape from reality and it is how I defeated my depression. I cannot fathom the amount of appreciation I have for the most spectacular, down-to-earth, caring, humble and strongest woman that I have ever met (second to my Mum), Christine. She was not only a family friend since my childhood, but also the therapist who made me realise just over a year ago that photography was my outlet to escape from the difficulties I experienced in life. So I took her sound advice and utilised it to my advantage.

Photography has been my Utopia; my release from the pain that I felt inside. I don’t usually strive for Facebook likes on my photos, but it really does let me know that my work is being appreciated and seen by people all over the world and it encourages me to consistently deliver content that is not just simply an image. Rather, I’ve always been a firm believer that photography is a “…form of communication expressed through the eyes.” A picture is more than just a picture. It portrays and even evokes emotions and feelings from a person and what that person takes out of every image is entirely subjective. That’s what I love about photography; it can mean one thing to one person, but something completely different to another.

With my supportive and creative family and friends that I am grateful for, I have been through a life-changing cathartic journey; one that endorses my recovery. I simply asked myself “What will suicide accomplish?” Nothing but the fact that it demonstrates that you’re weak. I realised that suicide is not just about YOU. It affects everyone close to you including your nuclear family, your friends and even acquaintances. So why take the easy way out? You and everyone around you will not just lose a person, but will lose the soul, life, and personality of that person that they truly love.

I really hope I can contribute to positive change in the world, and hopefully this story will encourage those affected by depression to take a look at their life, hold their heads high and love themselves for who they really are. Life is a privilege given to us; don’t abuse it. It all starts from here. It’s an arduous journey of self-discovery but on conclusion, it will be all worth it.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Call 13 11 14 for Lifeline’s 24hr Telephone Crisis Support or contact a mental health professional. If you are looking for other mental health resources, please browse our Find Help page.

If a life is in danger call 000 immediately.

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