When I’m feeling low or just not in what I’d call the right frame of mind where do I go, what do I do? For me I tend to lose myself in my camera I’m not qualified in photography, I’ve never had lessons, I pick it up and practice I’ve sometimes had good shots and many a bad shot but for me it really isn’t about getting the best shot its more about getting out there and doing it, enjoying it and feeling better for it.
I had always liked taking photos, my father bought me my first ever camera as a small child it was a disc film camera, I loved it just snapping away at my family, it was my ideal xmas present. As I got to my teen’s dad bought me a Motorola 35mm film camera again I thought it was the bee’s knees and it went everywhere with me and then nothing I have no idea what happened to that camera and there is a gap of a number of years where I seem to not had a camera at all, which I have no idea why.
I must have got some sort of camera as there are few photos of my son and daughter small but I couldn’t tell you what camera it was and if it was even mine or my then husbands. My first recollection of a camera of my own after that was 2009. In the October of this year I went down with an extremely bad case of Shingles in the right-hand part of my head, face and neck. I had had a weird week work was extremely hard people demanding more than usual some very unreasonably and for the first time in my life I stood up to them. I didn’t feel entirely well but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong so when Friday came and it was time to leave work and head to our caravan at FForest Fields I just couldn’t wait, grabbed the kids chucked what we needed in the car and headed to mid Wales, and there the pain started a dull ache bit like burning inside and then every now and then a sharp stabbing pain through my face.
90 minutes later we reached Builth Wells stopped in the burger king as I just couldn’t face cooking got to the caravan some 15 minutes later and fell in to my sleeping bag dosed up on pain killers and kind of slept till the following morning.
Woke up feeling awful , had to do a shop in Llandrindodd Wells and I just wanted to get it over and done with while there I scratched by face on what was some kind of small spot on my right cheek… the pain was excruciating and by the evening I was unable to settle painkillers were not touching it and I never slept a wink all night the following morning that spot or spots as they were now were also rather large blisters. The following Monday I was at the GP on anti virals and I don’t remember much else for about 3 weeks.
That is when something else happened, I felt extremely low and depressed, I didn’t want to leave the house no in fact I was scared to leave the house on my own, all the shingles scabs had gone yet I was still experiencing horrendous pain to which when I went back to the GP he diagnosed depression and Post Herpetic Neuralgia and signed me off work for 3 months something I wasn’t prepared for. I loved going to work and I knew staying at home in the same four walls really wasn’t going to do me any good I had to find a way to move forward to keep my head above water and step over the front door.
By the time the end of November had come and Christmas and birthday (Xmas Eve) were well and truly on their way my husband came home one day with a Fuji Bridge Camera it was 8 megapixels which was more than I had ever taken photos with before and completely digital. As we spent every weekend at the caravan in Mid Wales it was the place where I would do most of my practicing and it was there, I realized being at one with nature, the environment, away from the rat race with a camera in hand was my happy place. Fforest Fields has always been the place where I chilled, I slept, I tried to walk as having rheumatoid arthritis and only a few years in this was painful and difficult, it was a place where I found myself.
By the time the New Year had arrived I really wanted to get back to work so with camera in hand I worked at making some more steps to doing that and most days I could be found at Cwmcarn Forest drive with my camera, eventually I took less photos and sat on a bench, sometimes id have a cupper in the café more and more I became more social again and more positive in my thoughts and outlook, but what stayed with me was my love of the camera and looking through the lens. This was when I realized the power and link between photography and good mental health.
Ever since ive been an advocate that digital media in particular radio/audio, photography, blogging/vlogging can have positive impacts on anyone and if you entwine this with getting outside in to the natural environment the effects it can have on an individual is surprising and since 2011 I have volunteered and created projects that help people do this. Encouraging people to learn new digital skills and then seeing them go out for a walk take a picture of a tree or an animal and blog about it and the joy that this brings to their lives especially if they have met people with similar interests knowing that their lives have been enhanced and that just for a few hours they may feel better than they did when they started , to see a smile on their faces is what and why I do what id do. These days with the growth of smart phones there really isnt the need for expensive cameras and audio equipment to achieve this either just add a little bit of strength and motivation and your half way there.