Depression, CBT and my Blog

002004

Why haven’t I posted?

It’s been a long while since I wrote a blog post, something which I enjoyed doing and know some folk out there enjoyed looking at. First of all I apologise for this lapse and will slowly endeavour to get back to putting it right.

Depression

I’ve had a prolonged period of depression which has seen me in some difficult places. I’d like to post more about this later on and discuss what it has meant for me and hopefully talk through the continuing road out of it, although I’m aware I’ll always need to have coping strategies to keep it at bay.

CBT

I’ve been receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions on the National Health Service, which have been excellent and have really helped on a slow road to something like a recovery. During my last therapy session we talked about perhaps rekindling the blog, something I’ve not been remotely interested in over the last months. I’m still struggling with the sort of motivation that drove me on before the illness but I’m beginning to feel I could again start to do something in this direction.

CBT and Photography

Talking with my therapist, Neil, I’ve decided to delve back into my archives and begin a small series, showing one image every couple of weeks to begin with and discussing why I’ve chosen it and what it means to me – a sort of extension of the CBT into phototherapy. I’ll initially look at images from the beginning of my archive, some 40 years ago and work up through the years. It’s obviously a personal selection and a little bit of an indulgence and as such may be of limited interest, but at this stage if it helps me then it’s serving a valuable purpose. Once I get some of the drive back I’ll hopefully be getting out and about again and start posting articles as I did before.

Stigma

In doing this, however, there’s also the hope that it may perhaps help others who are suffering from a mental illness. There’s still a significant stigma attached to depression and mental illness, which needs to be addressed on the local and national level in many areas of society. Physical ailments carry a large degree of sympathy, you break an arm and people rally round and help you with tasks you are unable to carry out. Mental illness doesn’t function in the same way, yet is much more devastating and difficult to deal with. I’m of the belief that the sigma it carries with it must be challenged and to begin to address this more of us need to be honest and in no way ashamed of talking openly about the illness.

Writing and keeping diaries is central to the recovery process through CBT and I feel that the blog can act as a further, if more public, vehicle from which to continue this methodology. I’ve always written daries so CBT has come naturally to me in terms of ‘doing the homework’

Image 1, Chester Zoo 1975, Zenith EM, FP4

002004

First SLR

My parents were both teachers, mum in an infants, dad headteacher of a juniors. I’m 17 doing ‘A’ levels and have no idea what career I’ll follow. Bought a Zenith EM from one of my older brother’s friends.

I remember the thrill of just having a ‘proper camera’. I’d taken pictures before and loved it, but not with an SLR (I’ll dig some of those out as well, and go back a bit further). Darkroom was a small box room by the bathroom. Good times, birdwatching and football kept me busy.

I went with mum’s class to Chester Zoo, no permissions from parents needed, take what you like! Make ‘enprints’ (a standard 5×3.5 print made from a negative) stick them on the school notice prints and take orders for school funds.

Image Structure

Kids looking through a glass cage at what? Can’t remember, but the image has always stayed with me and made me realise the potential of the medium to develop a narrative within a single image. There’s excitement, involvement, fascination even enhancement. The photograph revolves around six faces, three of them mirror images and is held together by the hand of the blonde girl which is pressed flat against the glass – the reflection of the single hand making it appear as a gesture of prayer or thanksgiving.

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13 Comments

  1. Welcome back Tim.

    You and your talent have been missed.

    Take your time, steady as she goes.

    Looking forward to when you submit your next post.

    Geraint

  2. Hi Tim.
    It was with great sadness I read your comments, I had a relative also with depression for many years, as you say there is a stigma attached but I do believe it is out of ignorance and nothing else, keep working with photography as you are giving pleasure to so many people, remember our day on the Brecon Beacons in the middle of Summer, it rained so heavy all day but we still managed to learn and get loads of photos.

    I am thinking of you my friend take care.

    Regards

    Trevor Owen

  3. Hi Tim
    Lovely to see you back. I know it is a real uphill struggle – I have a relative who is also dealing with depression, a young lovely woman and it’s heartbreaking knowing people go through this.
    Your photography is wonderful and so many people enjoy it. It is a wonderful therapy too.
    I hope you continue to improve, when you get the bad days, jsut remember good days will follow. When you know someone really well who is suffering from depression it helps to know a little of what others go through.
    Sincerely
    Marilyn

  4. Hi Tim,
    Glad to see you are back at the coal face, enthusing about photography. The world is a better place with folk like you, doing what you do best! It gives duffers like me food for thought!!
    Take care and keep going.
    Stuart

  5. Hi Tim
    Good to see your posting again , first camera I used was my mums Kodak Instamatic on a school trip to Bristol zoo when I was about 10 , when the film was developed my mum gave me a bollocking for wasting film on ducks ! Anyway I soon got over that – when I was 28 ! – Parents eh !
    I’ll give you a shout soon , and don’t forget – F”@? It !!!

  6. Just back from a few days down in west Wales. Came back and opened the blog, thanks all for you kind comments, it really does mean a lot to me. Had my camera with me so may post some images from the last few days as well. Thanks again!

    Tim

  7. Tim, I did like the arrival first thing in the morning of your photoposts, I loved the photographs, consideration and discussion it was really a great way to start a day and enjoy another way of seeing things and is again now. Glad to see you back with new/old photo, running commentary, queries and perceptiveness. Take care, stay with it, best, Andy

  8. Cheers Andy – Really like to catch up sometime soon

  9. There is a huge stigma around mental illness, and the only way to begin irradiating this is talking about it and learning about it. With 1 in 4 people in the UK suffering from some form of mental illness, its important to remember you’re not alone and that its more than OK to talk about it, at least 25% of those you speak to will be able to personally relate. I think it’s great that you are posting again and speaking openly about your experience with depression. Photography can be a great way to channel emotion and indulgence in your work past and present can be a great remedy. Also- I love hearing stories about you growing up with your camera! X

  10. Hi Tim, I hope you had a good week in West Wales. You could have popped in on the way and had a cuppa and a chat if I had known. We were on Skomer on 18th, did you get there? The day we were there the puffins were very quiet, I think it must have been siesta time as others have been and seen lots of them. I’m glad you are posting again and I look forward to seeing the photos you choose to reflect on. Be kind to yourself. Best wishes coming your way from Ian and me xx

  11. Many Thanks Joyce, It would be good to see Ian and yourself again sometime. Didn’t manage Skomer this time, other than a call in on the way back from Grassholm. Quite dramatic as the ‘Dale Princess’ crashed in the landing stage at Skomer and threw us all over – a drive shaft had broken and we were escorted back to Martin’s Haven on auxiliary engines! Good to hear from you and thanks for your best wishes.

  12. Thank you Tim for sharing this post about your personal journey with depression.
    I am a mental health worker in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I see people every day who have misplaced their creativity as they seek the strength and drive that they once had. I go into peoples’ homes and see the cameras or guitars covered in dust. I see their paintings, some half finished, from a time before mental illness took over. As a photography enthusiast myself, I know the joy and freedom that I get from the creative process, and I try to encourage this in my clients. To that end, I am working to start a CBT based photography group that I hope will help people to discover or rediscover the creativity that I believe lies within all of us, and which I know can bring peace and happiness.
    I wish you all the best in your recovery Tim. I will check your blog for ideas and inspiration for both myself and my clients.

  13. Sorry for the delay in replying to you Greg. Really interesting idea to create a CBT photography group. It’s certainly good to be photographing again and to want to do it! It feeds itself then, something I feel I’ve learnt during this time of depression. I think to build a series of images, however small, and within your immediate environment, is a good start. Just one image a day at first on a mobile phone. Like the CBT diary it will grow to become something you can usefully refer to as the time moves on. I have found the diary I now keep in a written form so useful and to mirror this with images is the aim. Thanks for your best wishes and I really hope that the group goes well. Keep me in touch.


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