For people living depression it can be difficult for the people that are close to them to understand. Depression is the most common mental health issue in the UK. Through my experience of living with depression, this is what I think is important for people to know and try to understand. ~ Young Scot ~
Mental health is such a talking point at the moment so I wondered if writing a blog from my experience and point of view could help someone else who may be struggling…. For me working as a photographer is the best career in the world! But it can be a lonely place to be too when things don’t necessarily go right & at the times I struggled I haven’t always known where to turn for help so my hope is opening up and being honest this could help others.
Its very hard for me to pinpoint where my battle with anxiety & depression began but I think it was after school, I always thought that I wanted to be a teacher but being dyslexic my tutors talked me out of academics saying that I would never cope… (what a lie that was!) I persevered to gain my degree and while I found this hard nothing was harder for me then in 2007 my best friend passed away.
Having been friends since the age of 10 and spent all of our time and days together it crushed me, I had never lost someone I was close to before and it gave me a wake-up call… In those days there were no mobile phones with cameras so photos were limited… back then we were in the flip phone era so there are only one or two very treasured photographs of us from our childhood…at this point I hadn’t quite worked out what I wanted to do yet but I did know that I wanted to have memories and photos to look back of loved ones and on so I picked up my camera and the rest, as they say, is history…
What mental health looks like for me is panic attacks, constantly overthinking, worrying that I have or haven’t done enough. A crippling fear sometimes a lack of sleep, being frighted sometimes to even breathe. While I find it embarrassing to admit this especially publicly maybe just maybe my story can reach out and help someone else who may also be struggling and let them know YOU are going to be ok, YOU are not alone, all feelings are temporary (although they don’t always feel this way) and they will pass. YOU are loved and YOU are worthy.
Some thing’s that id like others to know…
Depression and Anxiety isn’t something that you just “snap” out of… It is something that I manage on a day to day basis using various different tools and therapies. Depression is exhausting and it can feel like a constant battle. I have found that sometimes people find it hard to understand mental health and it can be seen as an excuse, I’ve had people in my personal life say to me that I use it as bad behavior, It is okay that not everyone will understand what you are going through they don’t need too, I feel so grateful when people tell me they don’t understand because it means they aren’t battling the same demons & to me that a good thing I wouldn’t want them too. When you are affected by mental health self-care becomes so important and boundaries, I always try to think as well that because it is deemed an invisible illness you honestly do not know what someone else is going through in their own personal life so I try to practice as much kindness as I can.
People who suffer from a mental health illness aren’t unkind and they don’t mean to hurt others by not going to events or saying they can’t manage, although sometimes I feel like it can be a very selfish illness by pushing people away, It can become a natural coping mechanism which can be really hurtful to loved ones. It can be so hard to love and care for someone who is suffering but one of the kindest things that my friends have done for me is reminded me that they are here for me when I am ready and I cant tell you just how much that has meant to me, my advice is self-care for yourself firstly but also don’t shut the door be gentle and remind your loved one that you are there and love them.
Some things that have helped me…
Find your tribe – I know it sounds cheesy and it can be so hard to do this but try and remove negative people from your circle! It’s ok to have a few very good friends than lots of fairweather friends. In photography why not speak to your local photographers and made a friend circle? There is a misconception in the photography world that we are all battling each other but the truth is there is enough work out there for everyone! Make friends with people in your industry who understand working till 2 am on a gallery and stressing because you can’t get photoshop to play ball!
I was so lucky that I met a beautiful soul called Laura at college and then we met Rachel who introduced us to her circle of local photographers and we occasionally will meet up for a cuppa or a chat, a Christmas night out or a hot tub night… But having the girls in my little world helps me so much. I had a panic attack recently before a session and Rachel very kindly called me and talked me down reminded me to be kind to myself and that I was going to rock the session and I did but that was invaluable and I am forever grateful to my little circle of photography friends.
Know when you need to seek help – This can be tricky… but let’s go back to that “it’s okay to talk” statement. Knowing when to seek help from your GP, Family, Friends… Breathing space. If things feel out of control for you then you have to speak up in the words of someone far smarter then me we weren’t put on this earth to be unhappy.
Music – I am forever getting lost in the music, I’ll listen to everything from Fiver finger death punch, Slipknot, Snow patrol, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Devilment, To Kelly Clarkson and Glee ha! for some reason, music takes me out of a negative headspace into relaxing.
Apps – There are a lot of apps that I use for meditation and breathing. Headspace is great … and I use Breathe a lot to try and slow down my breathing it is a fancy version of breath in for 7 and out for 11 which slows down your breathing and helps you center your thoughts again. Check out your app store for breathing techniques and meditation.
Talking – I know this when you feel unwell is really difficult but talking it through with someone you trust can really help, It helps you take things that feel messy and put perspective on them, You could buy a pretty notepad and write down your thoughts if you don’t feel confident in speaking to someone face to face, Getting your thoughts out of your head and on paper can be really therapeutic.
Excercise – Getting involved in a sport, even better if its a team sport. Gets you out of the house, can get you moving, gets you talking and meeting new people. I am disabled so sports isn’t always easy for me but I love to swim, I try to swim at least 3/4 times a week and I always feel so much better for it! I put waterproof headphones on and just block out my thoughts and the world for 45 mins its fantastic. If your not sporty why not try a choir, or take up a new hobby? like quilting and knitting or even a art class?
Eat Well – What we put in our body is like fuel if we put rubbish fuel into our bodies then we will feel rubbish but if we put premium fuel in we run like a dream the same could be said for food, So trying to eat well while poorly can really really help <3
I really do adore my job being a Newborn and baby photographer in fife is the best career and by far is my dream come true I wake up every day feeling so blessed to do what I do because I love it so much… I guess like any industry mental health is as important. I really hope this little article could help anyone who is struggling, Thank you so much for reading and if I can help anyone please get in touch, I am always up for a little walk & a cuppa <3
While I was putting this blog together I was reading my friend Louise Ferguson‘s blog on how to prepare for your newborn photoshoot which has some absolutely fantastic helpful hints on preparing for your session with her, please stop by and check it out… Louise holds her Newborn Photoshoot in Haywards Heath, Sussex, and her work is just beautiful, Should you be down south I urge you to consider booking in with Louise her style is just so beautiful.