World Suicide Prevention Day
Day 1 - My humans
Today is the start of spring, It’s also the start of the @livefortmw photo challenge in the lead up toWorld Suicide Prevention Day.
Today’s theme is ‘My Humans’. We have many humans that are central in our lives. Some are close by, others are distant from us right now, so getting everyone together for a photo isn’t possible.
Being away from those you love is hard, really hard. We need to work out ways to live with this in order to keep mentally well. This is a challenge facing more and more of us in our modern world and thankfully this new fangled technology makes some of that easier in some cases. In other cases we just have to trust that the distance will get smaller soon and do everything we can to stay mentally well until it does.
I’ve been thinking about this shot for ages. I’ve tried a few different versions and this one I love. My first star trail and favourite romantic selfie. If you swipe, you’ll also find my first ever time lapse, because learning new things also helps keep us mentally well
Our humans also support us when we need support. @emmasgonecycling has been incredible supporting me and my little quirks, allowing me / is to live the most amazing life possible. We need to look out for each other and let ourselves be ourselves and not pretend to be someone we are not
Day 2 - This feels like home
I have meditated upon what 'home' actually means for many hours.
The conclusions I'm drawing are that for somewhere to feel like home, there need to be a few different factors satisfied. The first I eluded to yesterday and that was to do with people. In this modern world, we can't always be in the same place as all the people we love, so for somewhere to feel like home for my self, I need to have access to means of contacting all of those dear to me.
I have also come to learn that place itself is incredibly important for this sense of 'home'. I believe people and place are intertwined, and that when we are in places, there are energies of peoples all around us. The type of place also seems to make a difference to many of us. Do you love mountains, coasts, rivers, cities etc. Each one has different qualities that help us be well.
I also need to be in a place where there is an over arching feeling of acceptance for who I am and how I think. Apparently, I don't think the same as most other people, and whilst this is usually awesome for me, it's not always awesome for how I get along with other people and learning to understand and live with this has taken many years and thousands of hours of work.
I shot this last night when I was exploring in the dead of night by myself and as I like to happen within photo challenges, it spoke to me about todays theme. I need to be in the mountains. That's not a want or a slight desire, but I really need the energy that large peaks contain around me as often as possible. I also love being near water, which you can't see here, but is right behind where the camera is.
Some of the people I love dearly were sleeping less than 15 minutes walk away from where I'm standing, and they were extremely happy and supportive of me going on one of these late night walks on my own. I'm surrounded by mountains, AND as I've managed to capture in this image, using my best in camera trickery, I am in a space which allows my thoughts to explode out of my head to create beauty rather than angst
I am so incredibly privileged
Day 3 - Something I live by (my mantra)
I've been thinking this through for a while now and I thought that I didn't have a mantra. Thankfully, @emmasgonecycling reminded me of a mantra that you could say is ours. Quite simply, it goes along the lines of 'if you get the chance, take it'. For so many years, I let depression get in the way of me taking chances. I found it hard to venture out into the world for days, weeks and months at a time outside of the essentials, which was mostly going to work. I missed out on lots and this was like a vicious cycle forever deepening the depression and increasing me not taking chances.
Today, I took the chance of going school skiing with Evie and Emma. It was super rad, and I must admit, first thing this morning, my body didn't want me to go at all. Yet, I got stuck into it and soon enough my body felt great. I feel that often with mental wellness we have such a battle with out thoughts and if we can find out what it is that starts these negative cycles and come up with some strategies, then blow me down, we can start being more mentally well. So this mantra business seems to be a winner, create one that helps you blow apart those cycles.
Due to going up the hill today, I had to raid the archives for todays snap. This is from only a few weeks ago. I was sitting at home and really had to force myself to go out into the cold and shoot some astro. I had a chance, and I needed to take it. I've been learning how to do 360 degree panos this winter and this is one of my first
Day 4 - Something I've learnt recently
I'm learning to be a host. In the past, I've struggled at this role, like really struggled. I'm not sure why. I once read in a book that it's an Aspie thing to be a bit off balance when people are in your soace. I don't know for sure, but what I do know is that the troubles I've had in the past are dissipating thankfully.
Once again, I have to say that @emmasgonecycling has had a huge part to play in this. She's a fantastic host, like amazingly fantastic and it seems to be rubbing off.
This is my friend and colleague @j_tauamiti. We've recently facilitated a few @outlookfosomeday workshops together and when we were in Queenstown he came to stay with us. It was such a pleasure to have him here and to show him around our backyard. You can see how stoked he is to be in the mountains, and I was just as stoked to have brought him here.
As I sit here now, with another friend visiting, I wonder what it was that made me fearful of being the host. Was it some kind of self confidence issue? Was it some kind of retreat into a place whereby I didn't want to enjoy myself? This is one of many examples of what mental unwellness can do to you. It might seem daft to the outside observer, but to your self, in your own mind, it's everything and very real.
I am finding that the more mentally well I am starting to feel, the more I am able to shrug off many of the things that I didn't really like about my self previously. Not only that, they are turning into things that I now love.
For me to get to this stage I needed support and help. To you Emma, and everyone else, thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me learn to love my life
Day 5 - This song makes me feel
'm only just starting to listen to music again. I find that music can really tug on emotional strings and bring back memories. Sometimes this is one of the best things ever, other times, it takes you back to times that you're trying to move away from in order to heal.
As mentioned in my previous post, we've got another friend staying with us at the moment. I met @maneshds through our love of sneakers and the friendship grew more through our passion for photography.
This is his first visit to New Zealand and I've really been looking forward to showing him around and also getting to know him better away from the Internets in real life. I love how his passion oozes out of everything he involves himself in and I knew that he had a few issues with his sight, but considering how amazing his photos are, I had no idea that his sight could possibly be like it is.
Last night we had a quick session in the dark shooting some stars which was beyond amazing. I've posted a heap of astro shots recently, so I'll save some of those for now.
When we arrived back home, which was kinda late, we started talking about music and this track from my deep and distant past came up. '93 'till Infinity' by the Souls of Mischief is in my opinion one of the greatest hip hop tracks ever written. It reminds me of skateboarding in the summer with my friends in Leeds from a time in life where there seemed to be endless possibilities on offer. A smooth funky jam that just oozes with smiles, sunshine and good times. It is THE perfect spring track.
I haven't thought about it for ages and here I am reminded of this track that instantly gives me the anything is possible vibes whilst in the company of someone who's zest for life and pursuit of passions is beyond inspirational.
Here he is with his famous lens ball and enjoying time nestled in our beautiful healing native beech forest
Day 6 - Three years ago I was ....
Day 7 - Three years from now I want to be ...
Yesterdays subject / photo was tough. Tough is good, but it's still tough. This one is much more positive I believe. So I'm coming in early to reset and get on with the day.
A long term goal for me was to feel content in life. This I achieved a wee while ago. I prefer contentedness to happy, it feels more stable and settled. Being content, doesn't mean though that I have everything I could ever wish for, because there are still a few more things that I'd love to be happening.
I'm going to continue reaching for the stars, because that's what you've got to do right? And really put out to the universe that in three years time I want to still be content, but I really hope that @lenski99 and I will have spent much more time together.
I miss you
Day 8 - This brings me joy
Sneakers bring me joy. There are many other things too that bring me joy, but sneakers are objects that I really love and have loved for as long as I can remember.
From those early days listening to emerging Hip Hop in the mid eighties and starting skateboarding, it was the sneakers on my feet that helped me show the outside world what my style was and what sub cultures I was into.
These days, being a sneakerhead is a sub culture all of it's own. We have Facebook groups, websites, webseries, meet ups, conventions, customisers, associated clothing labels .. the list just goes on and on.
For the most part, from what I've observed, the way that the majority of real sneakerheads behave on the Internet is really refreshingly amazing. There is a whole ton of respect out there and support for each other regardless of where in the world we are at and what neighbourhood we live in.
We are connected by one simple thing. What we put on our feet. I've made some solid friends and have received amazing support from these communities when I've been pretty damn low.
When I was in a real dark space after Kate passed, photographing the sneakers on my feet and posting those photos to the Internet was about THE only things I could do to bring me joy for even just a few moments. These little things, or even big things are what we need to help us through these harder times in life.
The next time you see someone with fresh looking kicks on their feet, you should tell them, there's a good chance it will made their day
Day 9 - As the sun comes up / goes down
I've been shooting heaps this week with @maneshDS. It's been one heck of an inspiring week, not only for the places that we've visited but also to see first hand how Manesh deals with extremely poor eyesight. He uses his camera in the most amazing way allowing him to see way more than his eyes will let him.
We've had a list of places and shots that we've wanted to get and exploring the foothill of Aoraki was high on the list. As you know, I've visited Tasman Lake a few times this winter and it always blows my mind. I really wanted to be able to take Manesh here to see for himself.
Even though the most of the path there is relatively straight forward, the last section is rather tricky, even for someone with 20/20 vision. To go for sunrise would have meant a walk in in the dark, so we opted for sunset.
I found out afterward that Manesh had seen this place but didn't think that he would be able to access the views. We took our time and we made it as golden hour was coming to an end. And what a sight it was.
I love how photography can be a driver to help us do battle against those things that hold us back. It allows us to connect with nature and learn constantly.
Once again, whilst in the company of Aoraki, my well being increased dramatically
Day 10 - Hand over heart selfie
It’s pitch black all around. I know I’m moving but I have no idea in the world where I am. Am I on the right path? Is everything ok? How long have I been here?
There’s no sound, or at least the world around me appears to be muted to my comprehension, and gently, extremely gently I begin to see a line on the ground.
Of course I follow it, I’m desperate for anything to lead me out of this darkness and back into the light with almost everyone else living their day to day lives, and then, all of a sudden a bright light appears above my head. Instinctively gazing up in hope, I feel deep inside my heart that this is what I need. The light, the belief, the reason for living. It’s come out of nowhere. Even though it only illuminates a small area around me, it’s just enough to get me started.
The light above me could have become illuminated all by itself. Someone else could have turned it on. It’s extremely doubtful that I personally was able to turn it on, lord knows I’ve been trying for long enough and failed every time.
For so many of us the light doesn’t come on and they follow this faint line of hope until they are snatched into the endless darkness.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a time to remember all whose lights were not illuminated. It’s also a time to check in with yourself, once again, that there isn’t a light switch you can switch in your vicinity.
Help is out there and it’s not always about asking for it yourself when you’re struggling. When was the last time you checked how you could get professional help for someone else? You see, there are many switches out there, so we could end up pressing the wrong ones.
Learning about the process, talking to the kind people who are there to support us - and who know how to support us, that’s worth understanding so that when you do need to get help for someone, it’s as easy and fast as possible.
Knowing what to do saves lives
If you feel you need to find a liferaft of your own, try finding activities that allow you to experience these five things.
If you want to learn how to talk about suicide safely and help increase the help you community has access to, then I found the Safe Talk workshop was the perfect way to learn.
If you feel like you just can’t anymore, click here, find the helpline for your country, pick up the phone and make the call. Life is here to be enjoyed, it’s not always going to be rosy but it doesn’t have to be living hell every god damn day.