September 25, 2022

The Slow Burn

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life

Marc Anthony, or someone else

That’s a saying a lot of people try to live by, but nobody ever looks at the other side of the coin, or reads too much into this very similar, but darker quote:

You’ve got to find what you love, and let it kill you

Kinky Friedman, not Charles Bukowski

That’s pretty fucked up if you think about it: there’s this thing that you love, and I mean LOVE, and you’re going to let it kill you because that’s how much you love it. That’s some cult level shit right there. Sometimes you just want to do something because you love it, not make it a job nor let it dose you with rat poison every day for the rest of your life.

Lately I’ve been unable to sleep a whole night through. I’ve got heartburn all the damn time, and I spend a healthy chunk of my work day mornings dry-heaving because I’m afraid I’m going to get to work and immediately get fired. I shouldn’t, because everyone at work likes me, and I’m doing a good job, but I still have that feeling of doom wrapped around me every morning. And I mean EVERY MORNING. For the last few months I’ve been having little panic attacks before I get in the car to drive to work, and occasionally when I’m walking into the building.

The day job isn’t the only thing that has got me feeling not super great. Heading to the track to shoot photos has started to feel like a chore. Not because I don’t like shooting, and seeing some of your bright, smiling faces, but because it’s starting to feel like a job. Not the “this doesn’t feel like work!” job, or the “he died doing what he loved” job, but “Shawshank Redemption is on TNT for the 1000th time, I guess I’ll throw it on…” type job. I like Shawshank, but it’s not my favorite movie, nor does it really stir up any passion in me. Heading to the track, be it for NASA or a drift event, is starting to feel like Shawshank: not the worst way to burn a weekend.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love going to a NASA weekend or a drift event. I get to see my friends, and watch them shred. Normally, for me at least, the chore feeling pops up towards the end of the season, and it’s a “it’s been fun, but I’m ready to take a break” kinda feeling. This year was different. Shooting has been feeling like a chore since before the Enduro, and it’s been feeling like “this again? Well, let’s try and do better this time around.” Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for a decade, which it may very well be. Burnout is a real thing, and I know we’ve all felt it. But maybe it’s got more to do with those day job morning feelings than it does me burning out.

My dad is one of the big reasons I’m into cars and motorsports. When I was a kid, he would wax poetic about his favorite car, the 427 Shelby Cobra, and would talk about how nice it was that he got to watch the Indianapolis 500 every year for his birthday. The long weekend from school was just the cherry on top of the cake. We would watch IndyCar and CHAMP Car races on the weekend, and those moments got me to where I am right now.

But it hasn’t always been sunshine and lollipops. My dad has struggled with depression and anxiety. Most of the time he’s been on top of it, but there have been some times where he wasn’t. Those were very dark and scary times that I’m not going to get into here. He’s struggled with it, and I have too.

I feel sad some of the time, but I don’t know why. I’ll focus on really dark thoughts, or really awful memories. I’ll just want to lay around and not do anything, and let my brain go to those dark places. Sometimes I’ll get myself on a task of some sort, but then get distracted. Then get distracted from the first distraction… and then again. It’s real easy to run around in the metaphorical weeds and be distracted when your brain really, REALLY wants you to stay in full time panic mode, or dive into a pit of despair and misery.

What’s worse is I know that this isn’t good. It’s not good for me, or my friends and family, or you out there wanting to see whatever content CAM creates. But here I am, putting on a brave face and doing the things that are expected of me, whether they bring me joy or not. Not all the things I want to do, but just the things people have come to expect of me.

I took a mental health day. I told my managers that I was “sick”, and that I wasn’t going to be making it in to work today. They told me to feel better, which I know they mean sincerely. Then I grabbed my phone, and saw this from Tommy at WTF1. Turns out today is World Mental Health Day, and he shared a story about Damon Hill and mental health. I recommend reading it, it’s a good story that pushed me over the hump and got me to write this.

What I’m dealing with isn’t something you just “get over”. You have to put in work. I’m going to find a therapist and start seeing them regularly, and I’m going to be more open about my feelings with those who care about me. I keep myself fairly closed off, which isn’t helping the situation. And I’m going to find ways to keep the fires burning, which will probably mean our NASA and drift coverage will change. It probably won’t be the massive galleries, with little to no context, but it could be the massive galleries WITH context. Or smaller galleries, because I do get excited about doing the live streams that Matt, Dave, and Jason set up for some of the NASA weekends this year, and those take away from my shooting time. Who knows what the future will hold? I don’t know, but there will be a future.

You never know what someone is going through until you ask them. If you see me out there, ask me how I’m doing. And if I just say “fine” or “not so bad, you?”, push me on it. I’ll do the same for you if you want me to. Check up on your friends, support foundations that are trying to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health, and most importantly: don’t keep it in. Talk about how you’re feeling, let your friends and family know how you’re doing. Thanks for reading this. We now return to our regularly scheduled shenaniganry.

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