Tag Archives: depressed

Altered Horizons 77

Altered Horizons 77 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes in dealing with depression and coping with loss.

My kids used to accuse me of not knowing how to play, not being silly enough. And it’s true. Silliness never came naturally to me. But now, photo-shopping allows me to stretch the truth and lie. To make things up. To play. Even when I’m depressed.

The bellies were plump and sagging on all the animals at the farm where I was doing a class photo-shoot. Back home, by the time I dropped my images into Photoshop, I couldn’t remember exactly whose belly I’d shot, a sheep’s or a goat’s or a horse’s. No matter. For my fabricated landscape of the week, I was turning whoever’s hairy belly it was into a heavenly body. I placed it over the upended, very somber trunk of a tree that, in my mind, resembled a flowing river. This is about as silly as I get.


Altered Horizons 77



Altered Horizons 55

Altered Horizons 55 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes as therapeutic photography for depression and coping with loss.

My overgrown pondweed situation was almost under control the morning I noticed pollen forming over most of the pond’s surface. It was like a giant floating oil slick. To make things worse, feathery tufts falling from nearby trees were being carried by the wind and landing on the ugly oily film. Unlike the algae and pondweed I’d been pulling out the past weeks, this would be almost impossible to get rid of. But I don’t mind hard work. Sometimes, immersing myself into hard physical labor, I can forget to be miserable and depressed. And it feels pretty good afterward to have been productive, to see the fruits of my labor.

The few clear spots on the pond, where the surface tension had broken, reminded me of meandering rivers. I photographed the mess. Then, dropping one of the images into Photoshop, I added a “sun” crafted from a shot of the sump pump cover on my lawn.


Altered Horizons 55


Altered Horizons 50

Altered Horizons 50 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes when she feels depressed.

It was raining for days and days. Cooped up alone at home, I felt isolated and depressed. And frustrated because I had to delay my plan to focus on photographing bodies of water. I’d been hoping to shoot my pond and Cayuga Lake downtown, maybe Bullhead Pond up in Connecticut Hill. Instead, hunkering down in the house with mugs of hot chocolate, I rummaged through the kitchen and found a vase that reflected light like a rippled stream. In the high shelves where rarely used serving pieces lie in wait, there appeared a glass platter that could pick up the tiniest bit of light in the dim. In Photoshop, I paired these images to produce the fabricated landscape of the week.

Altered Horizons 50

Sick and Tired of Gray

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a depressing drippy gray scene of her daughter who died, as part of her coping strategy for dealing with seasonal affective disorder.It’s barely even November. And already I’m sick and tired of gray. But the days keep getting shorter, darker, colder, and grayer. Endless gray. Overburdening gray that brings everyone dropping to their knees, howling for light. And here in Central New York, we have six more months of grim gray ahead of us. This makes me want to hole up at home in front of the TV, bingeing on Netflix and spaghetti.

All this gray is dull, boring, dingy. Maybe even dirty. It is lifeless, or life without color. But then, gray is the color of everything when you are grieving.

It’s the color of concrete. Of old hair. Storm clouds. Ash. Lead. Gunmetal. Neither black nor white, gray is a neutral non-color that is deathly quiet. And depressing. It’s got nothing to do with the rest of the world where friends text you jolly pictures of themselves guzzling bubbly pink margaritas with their golden super-stuffed tacos and garishly decorated cupcakes, oblivious to the frigging cold and wet and gray.

Gray is the color our brains turn when dead.

Is anyone else suffering from seasonal affective disorder?

This is what I’ve tried that helped: Running outside with upturned face whenever the sun cracks through the clouds. Spending my waking hours next to a light-therapy lamp. Escaping to sunny islands in the Caribbean. Escaping to the movies or into a captivating novel. Taking up a new hobby or project, like hiking, preferably outside, although tramping through Walmart works too. Hugging a puppy or a baby. Hugging the one you love. Hanging out with people who make you laugh. Exercising, so your brain pumps out more pleasure-producing endorphins. Falling in love (it was a long time ago but it worked).

It’s a dismal gray autumn in Upstate New York, and I’m using every ounce of my creativity to try to change my perspective. I will find a way to make gray beautiful. I’m going to love it. If, years ago I learned to love my life even though my daughter—the light of my life—died, then I can learn to love gray.


Got any advice? What helps you the most in coping with seasonal affective disorder?

Self Care Day

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a child sleeping in a slipper-shaped bed to visualize away her back pain.When the pain in my back got so bad that I couldn’t sleep left-side or right, or even belly-up, I went shuffling to my doctor’s where the nurse weighed me, took my blood pressure, asked where it hurt, and finally looked at me, cocking her head, and said, “Have you been depressed lately?” At which point I broke down into a drippy, wailing mess.

Without going into the whole story of my daughter’s dying seven years ago, I wanted to let the nurse know I felt entitled to some depression. But the question left me speechless. I stood there shaking and sobbing, looking anywhere but at her eyes, wondering if I had liver cancer, and wishing I could just curl up to sleep. Hanging on the wall was a children’s book illustration of a sleeping family. They were floating in the sky, each member cozily cocooned in their own fuzzy, quilted slipper-shaped bed.

I returned home with comfort food from Wegmans, Aleve, and a prescription for physical therapy sessions, and spent the next several hours visualizing my pain away in Photoshop. I’m calling it a Self Care Day.


What do you do to take care of yourself?