So why am I here? Why are you here? I feel like I have had a bit of an epiphany. I hope, if you’re like me, you can too.
I have with struggled with depression and mental health over the course of my adult life. There are different triggers and reasons. In this respect, there really is nothing remarkable about me. One thing I discovered in being quite open when I have hit a low point, is that there are plenty of us out there.
Depression can be destructive, debilitating, shattering and obvious. Or it can be subtle, insidious and slowly drain you of life. The signs are often there but from inside the cloud it is difficult to acknowledge, let alone deal with it. I look at others who I think have life worked out and wonder if I am just wired differently. At times, when I look at the world, I just cannot seem to see the purpose and only see the pain.
When things decline, I shut myself off. Push people away. I cannot be bothered to present the together version of myself. To diffuse and deflect from how I am feeling. People don’t need to hear your problems. Trying to be upbeat and effusive about what you’re doing can be exhausting.
At times it’s hard to find your path. Anxious if I don’t have work. Hyper critical of it if I do. Worried about my life meaning anything. Trust issues and expecting the worst. Depression is a filter through which you can view everything. When you withdraw, you increasingly exist online in a virtual reality, reading news articles that feed your anxiety and jaded view of the world.
I’d love to say I’m over the gloom – the ceiling gazing and self-analysis. However, I think that will never be true. I think to a certain extent it is always there. It’s not about getting rid of it and being cured. It’s about accepting it and realising that you need to mitigate it and manage it. Fill your mind with good things and people so there is less space left for the bad.
My last dip which brought me to this point was your classic, collective of crap. Mum with cancer. Landmark birthday making you question where you are in life and what you have failed to achieve. Drinking a little too much. Exercising too little. Work issues resulting in worries. Failed relationship. Stuff that many others face every day.
I am not trying to paint my life as a disaster at all. I am not coming to you saying ‘pity me’ and ‘I have had a raw deal’. I have so many reasons to be happy. Good friends, ok life and work which is a salvation that keeps my mind busy. But for some reason even when things are going well, I find it hard to enjoy it and I just worry about when things will turn and go wrong. This perhaps is the most frustrating thing.
So, in answer to why am I here? I am looking to find my way back. I discovered a different way to view the world and it is with a camera. Walking with my dog Stan and taking pictures found that not only was I out and about, but I was also looking and focusing on something that I loved, which was just simple and joyful. It put my mind somewhere else and put me outside – at times even engaging with actual people and not just my dog. Before long, I had a curious eye and my phone was filled with photos.
However, I wanted more. I wanted to take better pictures and understand more about the art of photography. I sought more of that feeling where you smile uncontrollably and possibly slightly goofily when you observe something fascinating or fun and capture it perfectly. I wondered if I could use photography as a means of calming the mind and finding happiness – Capture Happiness was born.
I have not reinvented the wheel here. The positive mental benefit of taking photos is well documented. However, I thought it might be useful to show a person starting from a basic level. Maybe even take a few of you with me. I approached a fantastic professional photographer and a respected mental wellbeing specialist and asked if they could make me a better photographer and a happier person. They said yes and here we are.
So, on this World Mental health day let’s be on our way. Take the first step and feel better. There is a world filled with fantastic, inspiring and happy stuff out there. Let’s go find it, capture it and share it. I think we can all agree that we need it.