The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Phantom Energy Syndrome

I've heard of people who have had a leg amputated, and every now and again will wake up in the morning, leap out of bed, and as they fall over suddenly remember their limb is missing.

I've come to realise I have a fairly similar thing going on with the CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

Basically, at points where I'm feeling relatively normal – even more so if I've just had a coffee – my brain is very good at forgetting I live with far less physical and mental energy than I used to.

And in a burst of enthusiasm and optimism will make plans, create future possibilities and decide on actions that are completely beyond my capabilities.

You might have thought that after 14 years or so of the condition, I would have readjusted my sights and expectations, but it still tends to catch me out on a near daily basis.

When I am not overwhelmed with anxiety or depression, I'm quite an optimist.

Unfortunately, when the coffee wears off, or the cycle of excessive tiredness starts to make itself felt, then all these glowing, colourful futures begin to feel impossible. They don't just disappear like sand through my fingers - they also leave a sense of foolish embarrassment for ever having dared to think I might have been able to do more.

Perhaps I should be more of a realist – know my limitations and stick safely within their boundaries!

And yet...

There are few things more powerful, more intoxicating, more addictive, than conceiving future possibilities – creating things that don't exist, indeed will never exist, unless I make them.

In fact my whole photography career is built on this.

I sit down with clients over a hot chocolate or coffee (or these days the wonderful combination that is a mocha) and together we come up with amazing ideas of how to make them, their family, or their business look outstanding.

I love this part of my business!

The creativity and enthusiasm is contagious and spirals upwards, until the meeting ends with an exhilarating desire to make it happen.

At some point later in the day, as the mocha wears off, I will have a near panic attack as I wonder how on earth I can possibly meet the demands I've now committed to.

I feel like I casually threw myself off a high cliff with the idea that I'd figure out how to survive before I hit the bottom.

And as this sense of free fall makes itself felt, all I can think is, "Oh no, not again!"

(I am that bowl of petunias from The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy)
And if you don't get this reference, it means this blog's audience isn't quite as nerdy as I thought...

But at the same time, having made that commitment to the client, I now have to find a solution. And because most of the shoots I do take quite a bit of planning anyway, it gets broken down into bite-sized, manageable pieces.

And one way or another, I do make it happen – sometimes building a small team around me to help.

If it wasn't for that naïve optimism, I would stay completely in my comfort zone and never create anything new.

But there are many times when I wonder what I might be able to achieve if I actually had the energy of a normal person.


Claire said...

Yes... this... oh I can totally relate.

Kim Ayres said...

Claire - glad I'm not the only one :)

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