Depression // Part One // 09.2017

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Brutal honesty.

Guys. I'm really struggling. And I wanted to take a moment and explain why for the first time on this blog.

Anyone who knows me well knows this already, but for those of you who don't - I struggle with depression and anxiety pretty badly. Now there are good seasons and there are some really damn difficult ones, and you learn to live with it - but it doesn't make it any less difficult sometimes. The last three months or so have had it's ups and downs but on the whole I've hard a relatively good season, until this week.

At the minute I'm going through a week that is pretty dark. Now there wasn't a particular trigger, I just woke up one day and it was there - the big black cloud fogging my mind. My life is actually really good at the moment - I love my family, my boyfriend and I have a little floofball called Echo that greets me every day I come home for cuddles, we both have jobs and nothing is particularly wrong per say. But for some reason the chemicals in my brain just decide not to listen to all the good stuff in my life.

I started struggling with depression and anxiety when I was 13, but I had no understanding or knowledge on how to describe it to people around me. I felt like there were voices living inside my head which hated every fibre of my being - therefore I must have been going crazy. The only logical explanation was that I was losing my mind. And my anxiety became worse as I became anxious about going crazy and about being unpredictable.

Once I started learning more about depression and anxiety and understanding that in fact that was now a part of who I am and explained my crazy behaviours, it didn't get easier to handle but it became easier to understand and explain to others.

It's really only over the last two years that I've really allowed myself to delve into my depression and come up with ways to "manage" it. I've learned that there's not really a way for me to control it, but there are ways for me to get through it. There are good brain weeks and there are bad brain weeks, but through self-care, breathing exercises and many many more methods - I've found ways to find balance wherever possible. Sometimes if you wake up feeling a depression day coming on, even getting out of bed is a massive accomplishment and deserves celebration.

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This week has been a bad brain week. Bob (the voice in my head) has been very loud and I haven't been able to shut him off. I've found myself doubting myself - over and over and over again. The big fat voice in my head just won't stop yelling at me saying "You're not good enough" and "You should just quit."

For those of you who work in the media industry, you'll know that this isn't exactly the easiest industry to work in. It's filled with competition and it's not exactly easy to find support. It's very difficult to find a community of people who support and uplift one another - giving constructive criticism when necessary. And I am definitely feeling this at the moment.

I'm really finding it hard not to look at other photographer's feeds and see their thousands of likes and feel extremely discouraged that my work doesn't seem to match a standard. I know that sounds incredibly petty - but my mind won't let me stop thinking about it. On repeat my mind is constantly telling me that I'll never make it and I'll never be as good as them. It keeps pushing me down further and further into this bottomless pit that has no ladder to climb out of. 

I sometimes think of taking a break from social media. Then all that floods my head is thoughts about "But if I'm not consistently posting - maybe I'll lose my entire following and I'll have to start from 0 again?" or "What if nobody ever books me again?" or "What if my dream is just a massive pile of horse shit?"

I think it's really easy to see photographer's feeds and think they have their life all figured out and that each little square is an accurate representation of their full life but I'm starting to realise how wrong that is. Part of the reason I want to start writing about my depression journey is to create an atmosphere of openness and honesty with you, my friend. 

I think one of the most important things you can do when struggling with depression and/or anxiety is to talk about it. To speak to those around you and build yourself a community or support structure. I really want to build that for those who may not have one. So let's make a safe space for us to grow and support each other. Let's chat openly about our struggles and build an atmosphere of support.