POST traumatic stress disorder. Memory loss. Severe bouts of depression.
It has been a difficult few years for former emergency services worker Sharran Makin, of Redhead, who so many times thought about giving up.
Times are still tough – but Ms Makin found solace in her artwork.
And she has reason to smile after just winning a national photographic competition, organised by the Macular Disease Foundation, for her photograph of a team of horses majestically running through water on the Central Coast.
It is in stark contrast to two years ago when the mother-of-two wasn’t able to pick out her own art.
She couldn’t remember.
“I was at an exhibition and I turned to a friend and said, ‘That’s a great piece, whose is it?’” Ms Makin said.
“She turned back to me and said, ‘It’s yours’. I didn’t even notice my own artwork on the wall. That’s how bad it was.”
Ms Makin, who describes her short-term recollections as “vague” and “hazy”, and an aftershock of PTSD, enrolled herself in Hunter TAFE to relearn the art of painting and taking pictures. After winning the award, she has her sights set on opening an exhibition before her mother, who is suffering from macular degeneration, goes blind.
“When I heard about the award, I was in tears,” Ms Makin said. “It’s been a very, very hard journey for me. After everything I’ve been through, it was nice to know there was a reward there.”
Maitland’s Floyd Mallon, 14, also won mEYE World Photographic Competition’s junior category with a stunning long exposure shot of the Milky Way.
“Seeing the Milky Way on the screen of my camera never ceases to leave me speechless,” Floyd said of his entry.
“That is how I connect to nature and to the world.”
Patron and judge Ita Buttrose said the competition raised awareness of early detection of macular disease.
“The competition is a wonderfully creative way to remind people how precious their sight is and why they should do all they can to preserve it,” she said.
For Ms Makin, however, the competition was all about beating the odds. She labelled PTSD and its aftershocks as a “huge issue” in society. “A lot of people don’t understand it,” Ms Makin said. “People don’t like to talk about sad stuff, but I think we should all just listen to and support one another.”