This is the hardest thing to write.
I’ve been living with anxiety and depression since my late teens. It’s come and gone, triggered by bereavement, change, work and loneliness. It’s only in the last 5 years that I’ve sought help through a combination of talking therapy and medication to try and break a cycle that would previously and invariably loop round every year. 3 years ago I was very ill: unable to first leave the house, then my bedroom and then my bed. I nearly lost everything and everyone, but I recovered and I’m still here.
I never want to go back to that.
I’d given up on everything. Including photography, something that previously had helped me. I’d make excuses to myself and show no interest in going out. It was part of a pattern: thinking tomorrow will be better slowly slid into saying no to everything.
So once I had recovered, thanks to the understanding and support of those closest to me, and a GP who took the time to listen and refer me to the mental health services that could help, I started saying yes.
One of the first things I said yes to was a course in light-painting in a local park that my girlfriend suggested. I’m so grateful I did.
Light-painting is basically waving lights around in the dark in front of a camera that’s set up to take a long exposure. You look pretty silly while you’re doing it (We’re talking Star Wars Kid moves here) but the results can be really satisfying.
And it really helped.
Gradually as the course continued the grey fuzz of a dead television that had coloured my thoughts for months cleared. I could almost feel the neurons firing – my mind lit up.
Having lain awake with insomnia for months, I now lay awake buzzing with ideas about what do with this new technique I’d learned and what I could create with it. Waving lights around your head is also good exercise, so maybe that was part of it too.
I joined new photography groups, made new friends and re-connected with old ones and started creating images again.
It’s led to new connections, more creativity and a very different outlook on photography and life in general.
I’m by no means saying life is all rainbows and bluebirds now – it isn’t, but it’s better and I’m thankful for that.
Help & Support
If you need help, don’t give up. There really is always someone you can talk to and in the UK there are organisations who can help: