A Brutal Truth

http://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/

https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/suicide/

What’s the lowest you have ever felt?

I recently came across an Instagram post from someone on my feed who had shared a selfie with the caption; “this was taken an hour before I tried to take my own life”. The post continued to describe how they had warned a friend, who had then proceeded to stop them and support them through this trauma.

Something about this post triggered a memory I had not lingered on for a long time. I am going to share it with you now.

By sharing this memory, my main hope is to reach out to others that may be in the same head space and to urge them to reach out before it is too late.

Some brief background information, I lost someone extremely close to me just over three years ago. I had never previously felt a loss like it, nothing prepares you for it. Grief added to a mind already susceptible to anxiety/depression did not make for a good mix.

At my lowest, I didn’t even feel human. My day to day life felt like an outer body experience. I remember telling someone “I know these are my arms and legs, I can see them, feel them, but they do not feel like they belong to me”.

I would not eat, bathe, move from my bed, the days dragged along with very little involvement from me. It pains me to say it now but family members/friends became shadows, I knew in my mind, rationally I loved them dearly but I felt numb about everything.

The longer I dwelled in those dark days, the more I rationalised that for everyone elses sake it would be better if I was not around. I would daydream of taking the next step to making this a reality.

I know some people view suicide as a selfish act. Having been in a mindset where this was an actionable option, I would argue the complete opposite. All I would see was the benefit to others. for me not being around. How family/friends would move on with their lives and live happily without me dragging them down. I felt like an inconvenience, that I was not worth saving.

I hasten to add that that is not the reality, there is no truth to those thoughts. If you feel in any way as I did then, believe me there is no truth in those thoughts. No matter how much your mind wants you to believe it, you are worth saving, you are loved and you can get through this.

Reach out to someone, anyone. I started my real recovery the day I cried for help.

I had been prescribed so many different strong medications throughout my grief; ones for sleep, ones to aid in preventing panic attacks and ones to steady my mood. They sat in the medication tin alongside the usual painkillers, paracetamol etc.

When I started to contemplate my own demise, the pills in my house became my focus and would have been my first port of call.

This is not an easy thing to admit but one day I gathered them all together, the packets sat in my lap inviting me to indulge.

I broke, tears fell down my cheek, I knew that if I didn’t try to get help now, I would do something stupid. I put the medication into a box and handed them to a family member. Crying as I explained that if they didn’t take them away I would do something horrendous.

They were taken back by how far my thoughts had took me, they had no clue to the depths of my despair. They held me as they pleaded with me to get help, that they would help me in any way that they could.

It pushed me to make the best decision I had made for a very long time. I sort after professional help. I was referred to the local mental health team. I am still in recovery, I probably always will be, but I am nowhere near the darkest edge that I have been to.

Its not easy, I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but every day you are here is a win. Each day you see to the end is a win. You are bigger than your infliction makes you feel.

At the top of this post I have linked some web pages that may be of aid to you if you are feeling suicidal, if you find you cannot reach out to family/friends, then reach out there. If you cannot talk, try and write your feelings down, post/text/email them to someone.

If you fear for someone in your life about how they are acting, if they are prone to poor mental health, I would urge you to reach out to them. The power of knowing your are not alone, that people care for your well being, helping them see they are not an inconvenience, can make such a difference. Its not an easy fix, but its a start.

I am forever grateful for my family/friends that have stuck by me through my worst. I am thankful I am still here. I am in a much better place nowadays, even with the recent fluctuations in my mood I have the right tools to see me through.

The picture I have decided to add to this post is one I recently took of the stars; the constellation The Plough, it reminds us that even in the darkness there is light to be found.

I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and hope that we are all looking out for each other in this current climate.

Until next time take care.

Recovery

It is no secret on this blog how much I struggle with my self esteem, in nearly all of my blogs there is the thread of self doubt about what I am displaying. So i’m assuming if I were to write about my anxiety and depression it wouldn’t really be a surprise for anybody to read.

I’ve ummed and arred for ages about whether to include my mental health on previous blog posts, I am scared that it may put people off reading my posts in the future but leaving out that side of myself makes me a bit of a fraud, I want these blogs to be authentic, a genuine expression of my life, how can I truly manage that if I am hiding a huge section of myself?

I have seriously struggled with anxiety and depression for the past 3 years. At its worse I will have frequent panic attacks, be unable to leave the house, I will withdraw from myself and from those around me, I worry constantly over nothing in particular, it causes me to be forgetful, I am constantly filled with guilt, and on more than one occasion I have come extremely close to feeling like I shouldn’t be around at all.

I am so very lucky to have a great support network around me, they have been there through my worst and I will be eternally grateful that they feel I am worth helping. From the close family that have to put up with my bad days, to the friends that check in, just to see how I am doing, these things can make such a difference when you are feeling detached from everything.

From my own experience; I would honestly recommend if you have anyone in your life that struggles with their mental health, a simple message just to say Hi or a phone call to check in could help enormously.

You may now be wandering what does this have to do with a photography journal?

Photography, for me, alongside my support network is one of my saviours, it’s part of my recovery. Photography gives me a reason/ purpose to get out of the house, when in reality all I want to do is hide.

It allows me a creative outlet, being able to try and share how I’ve seen a scene or the atmosphere from what/where I’d been shooting. I enjoy trying to think of new ways of shooting subjects and it pushes me to experiment.

I love how photography gets me to look at the world, it helps me focus on something other than the anxiety/depression (this is more so when I am in recovery, unfortunately not when I am at my lowest ebb, at that point I am unable to focus on anything).

I took a week off from the blog last week because of my anxiety/depression. Self care is so important and I am getting better at allowing myself time to recuperate, to hopefully negate full breakdowns.

I am realistic; I am always going to struggle with my mental health but I want to try and avoid the worst because I’ve been there before and it’s horrendous getting out of it. Like my self esteem, my mental health is going to be something I am constantly working to improve.

Feeling brighter this past weekend, I visited the Weir Garden, Hereford (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-weir-garden). A beautiful stretch alongside the river Wye, this garden/walkway was laden with snowdrops. Thankfully on the day I visited, we were blessed with winter sunshine and bright blue skies. I did have a few issues with getting my exposures right but overall I am happy with the photos I captured.

There is a bird hide at the weir garden, with feeders set out in front of it. The shot I managed to capture of the squirrel from the hide was my favourite from the day. The squirrel was aware I was in the hide but it didn’t scare them off, they were a very accommodating model, for which I am very grateful for.

I recently became a member of the National trust and look forward to visiting more properties similar to the Weir garden.