At the beginning of 2016 I was sad. Very very sad. There were days where I couldn’t leave the house because my anxiety was so overpowering. So crushing. So suffocating.
After six months of parenting two children under four. Six months of not sleeping for more than 3 hours in a row. Six months of daily tears.
After the months of surviving with a poor baby who was suffering from silent reflux. With his allergies that were only just being discovered. My anxiety and fear that people would comment on how much he cried and screamed.
I would try to leave the house. But it took all my strength and willpower to actually make it past the threshold. Panicked texts to Nick. Tears on the station platform.
I knew something had to change.
I needed to conquer the anxiety.
I needed to get out of the house more.
I needed to be brave.
So I set myself a challenge: I was going to get to grips with my DSLR. To learn how to use manual mode properly. To take photos that we could hang on the walls and look back on in years to come.
Part of this challenge included exploration: Getting to know the area we’d moved into seven months beforehand, because I hadn’t really explored further than our back garden during the week. I wanted adventures, and memories of those adventures, because time goes so quickly.
And that is what I did. Gradually, I started experimenting with shutter speeds. With aperture. With ISO. I read blogs. I consulted Pinterest. And I forced myself to get out of the house.
I talked down the voices that tried to keep me confined.
I ignored the excuses I kept trying to make.
I made plans.
And I fell in love.
I fell in love with photography. I fell in love with light (even more so). I began to live again.
My photography became my therapy.
And through the camera I started to be present again. I learnt how to read my children again. I learnt how to feel excited again.
Even now, if I’m having a bad day where I’m struggling to process my thoughts in a coherent way, we all put on our wellies, I grab my camera and we go for a walk together. We explore our local green space. I talk to the groundskeeper who recognises us and is always up for a chat. We sing songs while we stomp through the woods. And I feel balanced again.
* * *
On Saturday I held my first family shoot in a wood full of bluebells.
It was amazing.
I stood there, with the sun shining through the trees, not quite believing how lucky I was that people were actually hiring me to take photos of them.
To go from using photography as a way to overcome crippling anxiety and agoraphobia, to where I am now, is the most wonderful feeling.
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
— Dorothea Lange
Find out more about my new (still fledging!) photography business here: www.inthedenphotography.com