Until very recently I had lived with anxiety and depression. Initially I was reluctant to accept the damaging nature of my situation, believing if ignored it would go away. As time went on the situation deteriorated, I became reliant on various coping mechanisms; compulsive spending, obsessive collecting, medication and often self-deception. One day whilst looking in a charity shop to try and find objects to temporarily satisfy my need to distract myself from my mental health I came across a Zenit SLR. At first it was nothing more than just a random object to keep me briefly entertained, however from there I discovered a love of film photography. Initially this new pursuit worked well in distracting me from my mental health and giving me the space to help restore some joy. Later it became part of the problem as I became reliant on photography satisfying my need to escape my damaging thoughts and feelings. Each time I felt it wasn’t working I became more despondent and became more obsessive with shooting film but placing myself under a lens of greater self-criticism. Trying to control my photography more each time quickly made it something that could at times feel like it was doing me more harm than good. The purpose of this project reflected the shift away from controlling self-critical thought patterns I was learning to address in cognitive behavioural therapy towards a perspective of self-tolerance and acceptance. The images in this series were shot without rigorous planning or attempts to influence the situation being shot to satisfy a desire for perfection. Many of the subjects were incidental and by happy coincidence the imagery allowed me to visualise aspects of my mental health experience in way I had previously struggled to put into words when discussing the issue. There is an emphasis on observation above interference in the images, as with my mental health this approach was intended to allow me to step back from the matter I was addressing. Observing a subject as a substitute for an aspect of my mental health from an outside perspective instead of proximate to it allowed me to alter.
Venue- Rough Trade