Let’s talk about 2017

We’re here again.

We’ve reached the end of yet another year, one I’d really rather forget.

With Neko going missing I don’t think this was ever going to be a good year, but this is one that went from bad, to worse, to unbearable at some points.

I wish I was able to offer up some note of hope or faith or optimism, but I just don’t have any of those things left at the moment. I know we’re supposed to go into New Years with at least a little of those things, but all I have is the looming sense of fear that it’s just going to be more and more of the same.

Entering 2018 I am going to be sad, broke and feeling as though I am the least employable person in England. I need things to change so that I can take care of myself and relieve the pressure I’m putting on Joe because he’s working so hard to support us both and it’s super unfair. I apply for so many jobs but never get anywhere and to be honest I’m a little tired of hearing the well scripted rejection letters consisting of tripe about how the standard was so very high – and basically I’m not good enough. I’m tired of going to interviews where I am tasked with things which have nothing to do with the job I’ve applied for, how is that a fair assessment of how well I can do they job you’ve actually advertised. I’m tired of interviewers not listening to what I’m saying and twisting it to make it into something that suits their agenda. Job hunting should not be that hard or that unfair.

I work hard, I try hard. I just need a chance.

This year has also been kind of lonely, I’ve not seen that much of my friends this year and that is largely down to me. I promise I will try to be a much better friend next year.

Health wise, this has been one of the hardest ones on record, and I don’t just have the uveitis to thank this time. I’ve been struggling with low moods for a very long time. This year, it all came to a head in very traumatic circumstances, which I won’t go into. Diagnosis: Panic Disorder and Depression. I used to be one of those people that didn’t really understand depression, but now I do, and it all came too late.

I’ve always been pretty open about suffering from anxiety. The symptoms are very physical and hard to ignore, depression is something which can easily be confused or mistaken for low mood. Then one day you realise those low moods have been hanging around for quite a while and have long outstayed their welcome. You’re exhausted constantly and everything feels like an effort. It doesn’t take much to upset you and them bam! All of a sudden, there it is. The big black cloud of depression. So cliched, yet so true. The world is suddenly full of dark fog and you can’t find your way out no matter how hard you try.

I’m still very much lost in that fog. I will be until help arrives and I have no idea how long that will take.

Creatively, this year hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been networking like crazy and met some awesome people, been to some amazing shoots and got to do things I never thought I would. Here are a few highlights.

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So there you have it. 2017 all wrapped and almost gone. I would really like for the creative stuff to keep going, but the badness to stop.

Please cut me a break 2018. I’m not sure how much more I can take.

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It’s Been A While

Well, Hello World.

I’ve taken a deliberate hiatus from blogging as I promised myself the next post I wrote would be about how Neko returned home and life went on as before. But he never came home, and now 9 months down the line I don’t think he ever will. My heart is completely shattered and it still hurts every day. The hardest part is just not knowing what happened to him, even if it was bad news, at least I’d know and be able to grieve properly, but that’s just not going to happen.

We actively searched for the first few month and received several suspected sightings, but nothing ever came to anything. We leafleted our local area, put up posters and shared in endless Facebook groups, but no joy.

Life has effectively stopped since he left. This year has been terrible, and while I can’t wait for it to be over, I am dreading next year being just as bad and nothing changing.

Ive been out of work for the last 6 months. This time through choice. I was bullied out of my job at the beauty company, then let go from the place I went after that. I’m done with shitty jobs. I’m done with being treated like shit. Done with putting so much effort in, only for people to tear me down anyway. I need a break. Whatever I do next needs to be a good calculated career move and not just taking another shitty job for the sake of it, I’ve learned the hard way that it just isn’t worth it.

So right now, I’m at a crossroads. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, but I need to fix myself before I do anything else. I’ve been suffering from the worst anxiety of my life throughout this year. It’s gotten so bad that it’s now my default setting to be on edge and completely wired all the time, I can’t switch off and I can’t calm down. My brain is a foggy mess, and because of this, I didn’t notice the depression creeping up on me either. I’m a mental and emotional wreck.

I’m sorry this isn’t a very cheerful blog post. I will update again very shortly and update you all on my camera related adventures, which have been sort of ok this year and I’d quite like to share some stuff with you all.

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you’re all well and doing awesome.

Missing

It’s 1.30am and we’ve just returned home from a gig.

I’m sitting on the landing floor talking to Joe as he calmly tries to stem the bleeding. I realise that this moment right here, is strangely poignant and as I watch my husband bleed into the toilet bowl this situation just sums up how our lives are at the moment.

It’s not unusual for me to be awake at this hour these days. My mind is full of static and panic so rest doesn’t really feature that heavily in my routine at the moment. I’m not sure when I’ll rest easy again, for right now I’m living out my worst nightmare.

Neko is missing.

He disappeared on March 19th sometime between 8pm and 10pm. This is so out of character for him, especially as the night was rainy. He hates the rain and comes rushing home as soon as he feels raindrops. If you open the door to the rain, he’ll hiss at it as if he hopes this will make it stop. At first I thought he may just be sheltering somewhere, but when he still wasn’t home the next morning I knew things weren’t right.

We went searching as soon as it got light enough to see, but no joy. We scoured the length and breadth of the golf course which backs out onto our garden, we even donned the old clothes and went climbing through bushes, but nothing.

I’m afraid we’ll never know what happened to him. The night he went missing also happened to be bin night. If something bad has happened, he may have been taken away before we even had the chance to look for him, but still I’ve leafleted houses, put posters up, shared in all the local animal groups, called all the local vets and shelters, but nothing.

We’ve tried every piece of advice given, and with every day that passes, the worry just gets worse. Most people have been hugely supportive and sympathetic, which gives me some faith. I look for him whenever I can, I call for him every time I step outside the house and my heart sinks a little more every time he doesn’t respond.

Add this on top of everything else that’s happened lately and it makes for a very dark mood indeed.

Firstly, my Uncle died. He was the best. I come from quite a large extended family, and I’ve always been the oddball I guess. He understood me and never made me feel I had to put a face on to please everyone else. He was there with me when I was first told I would go blind, and attended many of my subsequent hospital appointments along with my parents. He was one of life’s good guys and I will miss him so much. The funeral was awful, but in the most beautiful way. Everyone was in tears and it was lovely to see just how much he meant to everyone.

I’m being bullied at work. I have a new manager, she took over around the same time my most recent spate of poor health began, I’ve needed a few days off over the last few months due to illness or infection, but anyone would think I’d been trafficking children with the way she likes to make me feel about it.

When I first started the job, I declared my health condition on the medical form I was issued and have never hidden it away or lied about it. I’m sick of being made to feel bad about something I have no control over, I’m sick of being made to feel like I’m a slacker, because I’m not. I’m good at my job, I work hard and I take three buses to ensure I get to work every day, how many people would do that for a part time job?

I’m resentful of the fact two of the best things in my life have been taken from me already this year and I’m left with this. I’m tempted to make it easy for her and just hand my notice in, but I’m tougher than that and I will not be beaten over something I can’t control. No, there is nothing I can take to stop the side effects from my meds, no it can’t be controlled by my diet, and no, there is nothing you can do to stop it interfering with my life, this is the hand I was dealt and I play it to the best of my abilities.

So, that’s where we are right now. I’d love to be able to write a happy blog on here one day. Today is not that day. Until I know what happened to Neko, I just don’t know when that will be.

Take care of yourselves, and give your fur babies a massive hug. Tell them how much they mean to you, hell, take a day off and spent it with them. Just don’t take them for granted.

For now, I soldier on for little Yumi, who misses her big brother terribly.

PS:- Neko is microchipped and neutered.

It’s been a while

Well, Hello there.

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve not written here for a long time. I’ve not done much for a long time, but I’m just about ready to come out of hiding now and get back out into that scary old world.

January was hard. I had a lot of horrible things to deal with and I fell into a really bad place. Life is full of ups and downs, having been accustomed to the downs in life and therefore generally managing them pretty well, I can usually find the light at the end of the tunnel, but this time I really couldn’t.

Usually, even in my darkest hours I have found something to cling to, something to keep me going, or was simply able to tell myself that things would get better in the end, but this time I just didn’t see that at all. I couldn’t figure out what I possibly had to look forward to any more. I felt trapped in a world of endless tomorrows where nothing made sense. I couldn’t move forward because it felt like everything was constantly blocking my way and I’d be trapped forever.

Then one day, after waking myself up with a panic attack, I knew I had to do something. So  I reached out. The solution may be long winded but was much simpler than I imagined it would be and after a few hours of what felt like endless phone calls, it was finally in place and I could finally move forward.

I then became ill. Weak, exhausted and stressed, I just wanted to sleep forever. Then the bleeding started and the weakness got worse. I powered on as best I could but felt like I would just burst into tears over the most trivial things. Shortly after came the pain. Swiftly followed by the blood tests, now I’m just waiting for the results.

One afternoon, I sat at the bus stop waiting for the first of my three bus journey home from work and checked my email. I do this every day. A glimmer of hope finally arrived. The following day, so did another. Now there are three. Suddenly, the fog began to lift and I didn’t feel quite so lost anymore.

Now, I’m awake. Awake doesn’t mean what it did six months ago. Six months ago, being awake meant functioning like a regular person. Today, being awake means making it through the day without needing to stop for a rest or a nap. On the best days there’s no pain either.

For now all I can do is wait until the Doctors are able to tell me what is wrong with me. But that’s ok. There are minuscule things to look forward to, and eventually these will grow into better, brighter days and I’ll remember what it feels like to be human again.

Please don’t suffer alone. There is always help to be found if you’re willing to look for it. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or a bad person, it means you’re ready to take the steps you need to come out the other side. And you will. The bag of prescription drugs that was so tempting some days still sits untouched in the kitchen cupboard and that’s where it shall stay.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now, but I’m going to use this tiny bit of energy I have. It feels good. I’d almost forgotten how good it feels to be productive.

Be good to each other. We are all we have.

Year in Review – 2016

It barely feels like a matter of weeks since I last wrote one of these posts, yet somehow, another year has passed and we’re here again.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We spent it in Devon with my family this year and it was fantastic. Tonight though, we are at home and celebrating the departure of 2016 quietly  with the kitties.

For many of us, I think it’s safe to say 2016 was a difficult year. I’m yet to meet anyone who has described it as being their best year ever, but for those of you who have had a great year, I’m so glad for you. I truly am. It’s been tough so I am happy for anyone who made it out still smiling.

Last year, I wrote a huge, illustrated, month by month account of my year and initially, this was also going to be my plan for this year, however, I just can’t bring myself to relive a lot of what has happened, so this is the best I can manage.

2016 began on a grey Friday morning in Leicester. We saw the new year in in style with my brother’s house party, so very different to this year!

Like every year, it began with feelings of melancholy, anxiety and quiet optimism. I knew what needed be done in order to correct the mistakes of the past year and wasted no time in setting about searching for the solutions. And that was where my luck ran out really.

I took a gamble by leaving my job at Sainsbury’s for a Freelance position. After all, it had worked out once before so why wouldn’t it happen again, right? Well, I was very wrong, and what seemed like a promising new position at Packshot soon turned out to be my very undoing.

Six months of unemployment ensued, and when I did finally manage to get some work again over the summer, I ended up spending more time chasing my wages than I did actually working. This prompted the rapid decline in my love of Photography this year. The industry I once loved had betrayed me for the last time, and as it stands, I am now still in limbo over what will happen next. I really have no idea. I’ve never been this confused before.

Entering the year still in mourning for Sam has probably set the tone for a lot of the fact this year has been so difficult. No sooner had I began coming to turns with losing her, Leica had entered my life and departed again in such a short space of time that I don’t think grief has even left me yet. Then there was the sad tale of the Floofs. More loss. In fact, I’d say the word of the year would be loss.

Still, there have been fleeting moments of joy.

Yumi2

This little girl is still with us, and as she sits curled up on my lap, purring her little head off, I’m reminded that there will always been small moments of light to keep us going. I miss Leica so much, but really feel I’ve said all I can about that. She was so special and I will never forget her, but Yumi is such a great little character, she has saved me from some very dark moments since she arrived.

Other memorable moments include my birthday back in January. Natalie did a great job of organising it, and it was so lovely to see everyone. I spent a weekend in London in July with my Mum and Auntie which was amazing, and I have now acquired a new appreciation for The Rolling Stones! There was an occasion where I came face to face and even help an enormous yellow snake, a night at the London Transport Museum in November, where I got to have an enormous geek out over my passion for all things London Underground, and countless Pokemon walks. Yeah, I like Pokemon now, it’s really fun and keeps me sane! I also got into exercise, and was really good at it for a while, then I kind of dropped the ball a bit. However, everything is in place to get it all back up and running again very soon.

Now we’re at the end of the year I am back in regular work, if only part-time, but it’s all good. It’s allowing me to study and giving me the time to figure out what I’m doing next. It’s also been quite good having time to spend with friends that I otherwise wouldn’t see anywhere near enough, so, swings and roundabouts.

As the year draws to a close, i am still met with those feelings of melancholy and anxiety, yet I am really struggling with the quiet optimism of past years. Previously, Hope was the only thing which got me through, but I think I may have run out of that, and as we enter January, I must begin my year with a number of very unpleasant tasks in order to move forward. I won’t go into that now, but hopefully, if I manage to get some resolution I can fill you in.

My health is hanging on by a thread at the moment too. Everything feels uncertain and scary, and I just want it all to be over with. I need answers, and the solutions I need to get life back on track.

So to end the year, we are about to go out for a nice long Pokemon walk followed my snuggles with the kitties. This year will not be going out with a bang, just a mere blip on the radar.

To all my wonderful family, my friends , new and old, my followers and lurkers, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Love and light to you all, I shall see you again in 2017.

Laura.

PS – I may have sucked at it, but I kept the blog going for the whole year!

 

It’s Over

An awful lot has happened this year, and not all of it has been good. I’ve been feeling very low recently. Not because of any one thing in particular but because of many things. Given that until this point, I have kept most of it bottled up I figured maybe writing about some of this stuff might help.

The first thing is just how difficult it has been making the transition from doing nothing to doing everything. I was out of work for the better part of 6 months, and now all of a sudden I am juggling a job and a degree. I feel tired a lot of the time and doing things for myself has become virtually none existent since the end of September. Of course, I understand that in every situation we’re in sacrifices need to be made, but right now I’m trying to find ways of re-integrating things that I enjoy back into my weekly routine. Exercise for example. I feel shit without exercise and the sooner I get back on that the better.

Secondly, little things are setting me off down the downward spiral again. I’m really struggling to keep my mind in a good place, and as always, as life does, it is just throwing a constant stream of challenging situations at me and I just don’t have the energy to handle them at the moment. This isn’t meant to be a pity party, just an opportunity to blow off some steam in the hopes that my permanently foggy brain may start to clear a little. I never know what to do anymore and I feel like I’m just aimlessly meandering down a path that isn’t taking me anywhere.

Finally, I recently had a major revelation. Since starting my course I haven’t quite been able to decide what direction I want to take my photography down. Torn between my want to be creative and the need to become more employable, a lightbulb suddenly went off in my head. I no longer love photography. In fact, I fucking hate it. There, I said it.

This has been a long time coming as it’s been a very long time since I picked up my camera with genuine joy and excitement about what I’m about to do, but now it has all become clear.

The Photography world is a mass of egos and mediocrity. I’d place myself in the mediocre category. I’m a tiny fish in an enormous, over saturated pond and quite frankly, does the world need another mediocre photographer? No. It really doesn’t.

I even closed my PurplePort account. I don’t use it anymore and more often than not I’d browse the pages asking myself what exactly the point most of it is all about. Did half of these images need to be made? Do they have an audience outside the model, photographer demographic? No, they don’t. For many it’s just a hobby they want to take further, for some it’s an opportunity to get your ego stroked, and for some it’s a genuine passion. But those are in the smaller numbers.

Yeah, I’m fully aware of how negative this sounds, and quite frankly at this moment in time, I really do not care. In fact, I truly believe that more people should be taking a long hard look at what they’re doing and asking themselves ‘Why?’ How many people go to University and study Photography because they hope to be a Wedding Photographer, or a Family Portrait Photographer? Not very many. This is meant with no disrespect to the people who do these things as a career, they’re challenging jobs which can be vastly rewarding and I know people who are hugely passionate in both of those areas, but if we’re being honest, these are usually fields we fall into because it’s a chance to use our skills to pay the bills.

It was never my dream to become a product photographer. It was a job I fell into because it would allow me to use Photography to make money, then incidentally, I grew to enjoy the E-Commerce industry which is where I decided to stay. So, what now?

I’ve decided to use the next few months to try as many new things as possible and see where I fit. Perhaps, I’ll fall in love with Photography again and I’ll pick my camera back up with feelings of joy rather than resentment once again. Maybe I’ll discover something completely new all together, which in my heart of hearts I’m hoping to do. Either way, I’m not a total quitter, if you throw enough mud against a wall some of it will stick, and then I can start climbing out of this hole.

The truth can really hurt, and it’s taken a long time to finally admit this to myself but I no longer want to drift along in an industry which is undervalued, underpaid and destined to keep the majority of people who fall into its jaws at the bottom of the career ladder all their lives. I don’t want to be in minimum wage jobs all my life. I don’t want to be working in studios which pay through the floor day rates then spend months chasing for my wages. It’s time to move on and realise, that while I had an absolute blast for the best part of the last eight years, this is where that journey ends.

I really don’t know what the future holds for me, and yes, of course I am scared. Fear is a large part of my nature, but there are many things out there I am yet to explore, that in itself is pretty exciting. Photography grinds you down, like many things in life, but it is an industry that can swallow you whole if you let it, and I am not about to let that happen.

What are you doing?

Well, the simple answer is I’m doing a Masters Degree! So there’s your answer if you don’t feel like reading any further.

This is a question I find I ask myself an awful lot. This is usually closely followed by ‘Why am I doing this?’

On this occasion, I have actually been asked to think about what I am doing and make a few notes for class this week. Being the Queen of over-thinking that I am, not only am I asking myself what am I actually doing, I’m also going to throw the ‘Why?’ and the ‘How?’ in there too. I could just write a few notes, but I’m kind of feeling inspired enough to write today, so we’ll go with this instead.

There is no simple, clear cut answer for as to what I am actually hoping to achieve by doing this, so I shall bullet point my answers for ease of reading.

  • Firstly, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I am riddled with self-doubt and suffer with an inferiority complex the size of a small country. I regularly write about how I want to improve as a Photographer and contemplate ways of doing this, so for me, applying to return to study was one way of getting out of that rut and actually doing something about it. This is going to be hard. I’m not naive and I am fully aware that I am probably going to feel a whole lot worse before I start to feel better, but here I am. There’s no going back now.
  • I want to be able to produce work, that I’m proud of, and if I can’t manage that, I at least want to be able to produce work that I don’t hate. I want to learn as much about lighting and creating beautiful, glossy images as I can. I don’t want to constantly compare myself to other artists and tell myself I’ll never be able to do that, I want to at least give it a bloody good try.
  • In addition to this, I don’t want to spend my entire life being a one trick pony. It’s hard enough to stand out in the ocean of Photographers that exist in the world today, and while Photography is my first love, I want to be able to do more with post processing, moving image and even create art without the use of a camera.
  • By the end of the first semester, I want to feel as though I am moving forwards. i want to be able to post blogs showing you that I have moved forward, and that my work is developing the way I want it to. I don’t want to hide things from the world any more, I don’t want to feel uncomfortable wearing the label of ‘Photographer’ forever. I don’t want to hide from the world anymore, and while I know I will never have the confidence to put myself out there as much as a lot of artists do, I would at least like to get to the point where I can maybe post an image or two and say ‘Hey, I’m Laura. I’m not the best Photographer in the world, but I made this and I’m pretty pleased with it.’
  • I want to be able to walk away from this course in a years time being able to say that I gave it my all and it paid off.

So, there is a very brief overview of what I want to achieve, now for the ‘Why?’

  • I’ve always toyed with the idea of taking a Masters program, but for whatever reason, life would never quite allow it for one reason or another. The main one of course being work. Making a living has to come first, so returning to study never felt like a viable option.
  • Having spent the best part of this year out of work, I decided that it was now or never. If I wasn’t back in work by September, I knew I wanted to be doing something constructive with my time, so I finally applied. Got accepted, then got offered a job. Sod’s law.
  • University wasn’t a great experience for me first time around. I really struggled on my Bachelors program for a number of reasons. The main one being my health being in a terrible place at the time, causing me to find things a lot harder than everybody else. Despite the fact I somehow managed to make it through, I know that under more positive circumstances I could have done so much better. Now I want to prove that.
  • I now have an incredible support network around me. While I am largely keeping this a secret, the people who do know have said they are all behind me 100% and this is really spurring me on.
  • When I look back at my time at University the first time around, it brings back a lot of bad memories. I want to be able to attach a much better experience to study this time, and when I look back in another 8 years time (yup, it’s really been that long since graduation!) I want there to be fond memories to reflect upon, such as ‘Yes! I remember the day I finally mastered that.’

Finally, How am I going to do this while holding down a job? Well, lets keep this one really simple. If I could complete a Bachelors while losing my eye sight, I’m pretty sure completing a Masters while holding down a job will be pretty easy! Well, perhaps not easy, but I’ll make it work somehow.

If I can finish this having spent most of my time on campus and not in a hospital, that’s good enough for me. If I can finish this and be able to wear the label ‘Photographer’ without feeling inadequate or ashamed, then I’ll know I can do anything.