I’m transitioning into phase 3 of my therapy, which includes the deliberate reintegration back into my life. This is nerve racking and exciting. It’s taking 12 weeks of new skills, new confidence, and new communication style and trying them out in the real world. Its time for me to go out and live my life, my real life. One of the characteristic traits of my disorder is seeing the world in black and white. I would take someone being busy as rejection, I would judge my worth by how others saw me, I would do anything to make sure people liked me even if it was dishonest.

So I’m taking the time to revaluate my likes and dislikes, what I enjoy doing, what I do because I think people want me to do it, what are things in my life that don’t serve me. Photography has been one of my hobbies that I have had to take a hard look at.

In October I plagiarized, in the depth of post traumatic stress disorder, depression and trying to find acceptance I took a photo that wasn’t my own and claimed it as my own. I created a story around the image, I believed that story myself and I sold the image, I messed up. I was very fortunate in that the organizations and individuals who purchased the images were very kind and understanding. The local arts council removed me from the membership, which I understand, mental illness has it consequences and I need to move forward. I felt that this was the end of my photography career, I was sure that it was.

The problem is that I like photography. I really like photography, I like going out and taking pictures, I like sharing pictures, I like talking about cameras and I love the community that is built around photography. On June 8 I took a risk and displayed some of my artwork at the Pride Awards. Upon check in I was given a name tag that simply stated “ Sithara Fernando – Artist”. The word “Artist” really struck me, I usually use “photographer” as a descriptor but being an artist is something that I never really thought about.  So rather than punish myself for plagiarizing, rather than seeing things as either being involved in the arts or not I’m going to embraced the “artist” and try to move forward.