Bronx native Nick Cicogna dealt with anxiety for 30 years, but photography helped him deal with his struggles and even led him to publish a book about the highs and lows of his journey .
In June 2021, Cicogna42, has released ‘Through the Lens of Anxiety’, which details some of the toughest times in his life and how receiving his first camera in 1999 helped him battle anxiety.
Using photography has given him a reason to explore new places and at the same time look through the camera lens and focus on what is in front of him. The book has over 70 photos, including many from the Bronx and a scavenger hunt with 100 items/scenarios to inspire people to get out there and photograph what’s in front of them.
“I want people to know that they’re not alone with anxiety,” he told the Bronx Times. “There was a time when it was difficult for me to deal with anxiety and panic attacks.”
Cicogna, from Connecticut, was born and raised in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx and graduated from Lehman High School in 1997. His parents divorced when he was just 9, and a year later he experienced his first panic attack during a school trip to City Island.
He felt like the walls were closing in and since then he has had panic attacks for nearly three decades.
For several years things were difficult and it was even difficult for her to leave the house. But what really helped him overcome the panic was his love for photography.
His late father, Nick, a former Mount Vernon cop, passed on the love of the camera to his son. They took photos together in Rhode Island, the Twin Towers, the Bronx and many other places. While her father died in 2000, Cicogna continued her love for photography.
“It was something we bonded over,” Cicogna said.
According to Cicogna, the camera brought him comfort, but it didn’t solve everything. Over the years he grew anxious in social situations and on long trips – in 2008 he lost his job and divorced his wife. After refusing to leave home in 2019, Cicogna felt the need to tell his story and hopefully help others like him.
“I had a bad wave of panic attacks in 2019,” he said.
Fired during the pandemic in 2020, Cicogna decided to write a book about his battle with anxiety.
“Through the Lens of Anxiety” was originally intended to be a dark book about anxiety and depression, but he chose a more upbeat tone that focused on how his photography was helping him cope.
“I knew I couldn’t write a novel,” he said. “I thought maybe it could help other people.”
Although he hasn’t sold many copies so far, he hopes people will learn from his story and realize that depression and anxiety can be treated. Whether it’s taking pictures of the Bronx, different ballparks, or sites across the country, having a camera in hand gives it peace.
Now, with a new job in marketing, seeing a therapist, and the guidance of his mother, June, his sister, Nicole, and his wife, Trish, things are finally moving in the right direction.
“They’re proud of me for putting my story out there,” he said.
Contact Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes