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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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.

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.

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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.

Where have you been?

I’ve been absent again. This time, it’s been deliberate though.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that I wanted to wait until I had some firm and proper news in place to tell you.

As you well know, I’ve been struggling for work and not really been doing very much for the last few months. Well, as these things usually happen, after months of nothing, everything began happening all at once and with all my balls floating high above me in the air, I decided to wait for them to land before updating.

So, what’s been happening? Well, firstly, I know have a job. I am now Photographer at allbeauty.com. I first applied for this job back in March but didn’t get it. Then back in August, the ad reappeared and I was offered the position without even having to interview for it again. They also offered a little more money than the rate advertised which was a bonus!

Secondly, I am now officially a student. Yes, you did read that correctly. I have returned to University after being accepted onto a Masters degree, so hopefully in one years time, I shall be a graduate once again.

Now, all of a sudden I have gone from having little to do, to having to juggle work, a course and all my other commitments, though in all honesty, it’s really not a bad problem to have.

I don’t have any shoots lined up or any kitty related stories for you today. I literally just wanted to post a quick update to show I am still here, and will hopefully have a lot more to share with you all very soon.

Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

The Inferiority Complex

Today’s blog is brought to you by Laura’s nagging inferiority complex. As such, no joyous things such as beautiful kitties and questionable photography will be shared with you today. Instead, you get this.

I’ve been struggling a lot with my moods lately. I’m not sure if this has something to do with circumstances or whether it could be chemical. Either way, I’ve hit a huge motivational brick wall. I know things need to be done, but I can only manage a little at a time, and even that is taking up immense amounts of energy to accomplish.

Things haven’t been too rosy lately. I took a gamble when I left Sainsbury’s and unfortunately, it just hasn’t paid off the way that I’d hoped this time. As such, I have found myself back on the job hunt. Job hunting tends to do one of two things to me. Excites me, or depresses the crap out of me. I love reading the descriptions and mentally ticking off all the things I can do, but when it comes to the crunch, I rarely make it. Clearly, I am much better on paper than in person.I’m pretty sure this is in part, to do with my inferiority complex.

My inferiority complex. It is so familiar to me, it’s almost soothing in a weird mind-fucking sort of way. I can’t pin-point exactly where it began, but it began at some point in my teenage years as these things often do.

I hated school. I still to this day find the concept of school strange. It’s an establishment where you’re constantly judged by your teachers and your peers until the age of 16 for various different things, only to leave with some sheets of paper which kind of pat you on the back and say ‘Well done kid, you survived, now get the fuck outta here.’ That’s if you’re lucky, and of course, only the right sheets of paper will do.

Maths was my downfall. I really sucked at it, and it wasn’t for the lack of trying. I had extra lessons and my parents were even kind enough to pay for a tutor. Ultimately, this had no bearing on my mathematically illiterate little brain. I scraped a D grade. A pass apparently, but not one good enough to escape the pressure to retake or make you employable according to some. The weird thing is I can deal with numbers on their own. It’s when you start throwing letters in there too which frazzles me. It just makes no sense, I can’t take the information in or store it long enough to do anything with it. Years later when I was working as an exams invigilator, sneaking a peek a maths paper still struck fear in me.

Why am I rambling on about all this? Well, I guess it’s to make a point. Had I passed that exam with a C Grade, would my life have turned out differently? The answer to that question is almost certainly a resounding No. I still would have pursued creative subjects and careers, I still would have become what I am now, I literally would have done nothing differently.

So why does this matter? Well, recently, I’ve been filling out job applications which have asked for qualifications and grades. It’s been a while since I’ve contended with this as my previous few jobs have only really been concerned with my abilities to to the job, so it feels strange to have to rake up things which have long not mattered.

It’s weird how you can do whatever you want with your life, become as successful as you like (in your eyes or anyone else’s) yet you still cling to that one failure. The fact I suck so hard at this one thing makes me feel like such a failure, and there’s really no reason to feel that way. I still went on to college, I still went on to University, and I still went on to find meaningful employment. I even ran into my old Maths teacher about a year after finishing school. It was an awkward encounter, however rather than berate me for not getting that magic ‘C’ all he said was that 47% of people from my year didn’t get it either so did that make them all ‘thick’ as I had described myself? Of course it didn’t. I’d never even thought of it like that before, there were some really clever and talented people in my year group and I’d never class any of them as ‘thick’ because they may or may not have gotten the right grades.

I thought that as I got older, the inferiority complex would leave me, or at least become smaller. Small enough to ignore and try to push forward, but actually it has only continued to grow.

This year I turned 31. The world would have you believe that you’re meant to have your life together by this age, and I am far, far from it. That whole life plan checklist has well and truly fallen by the wayside.

Social media may or may not paint a very accurate picture of how the world really is, but it certainly doesn’t help when it’s so easy to edit your life. I’ve always been a big internet user, even before it was a ‘thing’. I’d spend hours online escaping from the people of the real world, but now all of those people are online too and adding to the inferiority complex. Mostly with their carefully taken selfies, images of a good clean eating diet, flawless make-up and of course those awful ‘inspo’ quotes. I really hate those things. It just makes things feel even more skewed than they did before. Let’s just all inspire to be everything!

This essay has gone way further than I expected it to. It’s weird that reading back over my own words, I am beginning to rationalise the things I’ve written a whole lot better. Maybe it really does help spilling some words onto a page. It can be a really hard being honest with yourself sometimes, I often feel like a failure, or that I’m not good enough, but in dragging up memories that stir  up an uncomfortable feeling, I’m also able to see that actually, it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve still accomplished a lot more than I ever imagined I would, even with the set backs that life has thrown at me and the miniscule amount of self-belief I’ve carried.

Deep down though, I will always just be the girl who couldn’t pass her Maths GCSE.

 

Floof Overload

Today is the two month anniversary of Leica’s early passing. When I woke up this morning, I instantly filled with sadness. Sadness, not just for Leica, but also for The Floofs that we lost. I think about Leica every day, sometimes it fills my eyes with tears and sometimes it brings a smile to my face. I love remembering all her little quirks, like how she could never meow properly so she’d just squeak instead. How excited she’d get at watching me spray deodorant on because she thought it was a can of squirty cream. The time she dive bombed Joe’s plate and ended up up to her ears in spaghetti. The adorable way in which she would follow Neko absolutely everywhere he went and how sad she looked when he went outside.

I’m glad I have happy memories of Leica. I just wish I’d managed to get a few more of the beautiful Floofs. The three remaining baby Floofs are doing really well now, they are growing and getting stronger, thanks to the amazing Lisa from Fur and Feathers. So, in that spirit, I decided that I didn’t want my last post about The Floofs to be a sad one. During the time they were were, they too put a smile on my face, and while I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t regret what happened to Sakura and Finn, I also want to remember them for the beautiful souls that they were.

Being a Mad Cat Lady with a camera always meant that they would be captured in pixels while they were here, so now, please allow me to share some pictures of these beautiful babies with you all.

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If you have your own fur baby, please give them a big hug today and remind them how special they are.