By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
I fell into my role as a writer and photographer almost by accident.
In high school, I was an okay writer, and photography never really captured my interest.
If someone had come up to me as a teenager and told me that at age 40 I would be doing both for a living, I probably would have laughed at them, to be honest.
As a teen, I knew I wanted to work in EMS.
I wanted to help others, and I thought it was a very noble profession. I was fortunate that despite the mental health struggles I faced as a young adult I was able to get myself into that profession and be successful at it.
In fact, I loved the profession so much that the one thing I didn’t have was an escape plan. I had no plan ‘B’. I planned on doing that job until I retired. Little did I know that I would retire from the job earlier than I expected. I was forced off the ambulance due to my declining mental health in 2013, and I felt lost.
I spent a considerable amount of time working hard at my mental health recovery.
I did the work that I had to do and struggled through trying to find myself in the post-EMS world of my life. I looked at a variety of options for mental health treatment and work.
The treatment took priority, and I never lasted very long at most jobs.
Over time I got frustrated. I quit trying to find my way.
I focused on my recovery, and forgot about trying to find myself, because I didn’t know who I was. The irony is, it wasn’t until I quit looking for myself that I actually found myself.
I ended up falling back into writing, after not writing more than I had to since I graduated.
The writing shifted something inside me, and I came alive. The writing also led to my freelance role at the paper, and that led me to photography, something I have developed a passion for.
I am privileged to be able to do work using both of these skills.
I wouldn’t wish the mental health issues I face on my worst enemy, and despite the vast improvements I have had in that department over the last couple years, the mental health issues still exist.
I still deal with symptoms more or less daily.
However, since falling into this role I have flourished, and learned a valuable lesson: the answer can always be found, but sometimes you have to stop looking for it.