Let's face it, mental health is a bigger problem than it's ever been, the pandemic definitely didn't help matters and while I'm no medical expert, it is something I've struggled with personally since I was around 16, so I've lots of experience in the matter.
From that time, I've been on a cocktail of tablets to manage it, but whilst they "help" they tend to make you sideline the problem, without actually dealing with the root cause. It's almost like they devoid you of any emotion if that makes sense?
It's something that I've been thinking about a lot over the past couple of weeks, not only because I'm struggling probably more than I ever have at the minute, but because I've been inspired by people that I've spoken to about their own issues.
Let's be clear mental health is not a competition. We're all fighting battles in our own way, and just because you hear someone talk about a problem that might sound massive in comparison to your own, it doesn't necessarily mean you've lost the right to feel down or depressed. Yeah, there's always someone worse off than you, but that's irrelevant when it comes to how you're feeling at the minute, right?
Someone turning around and saying "Just don't think about it" or making what you're feeling feel insignificant is not okay. We've all got skeletons in our closets, and sometimes, even finding the will to get out of bed in the morning is a task in itself. I've been there, and it's downright soul-destroying, and it consumes the entirety of your being.
That's all before you've even thought about keeping fit, eating your 5 a day, and managing to drink the right amount of water. Depression and Anxiety can really stop you dead in your tracks, take your life and turn it upside down. It's really hard to sometimes face up to reality, find motivation and function as a normal human being. Smiling through the gut-wrenching pain you're suffering with is just the hardest thing in the world, when all you want to do is shut yourself in a room alone and let it all out.
It's easy to look on social media and see people having the time of their lives, posting inspirational photos and stuff like that. Just don't let yourself get wrapped up in #Livingmybestlife, because the reality is, behind the screen of Instagram filters, the majority of people only share their successes and not their failures.
One of my biggest mental health hero's is an old mate of mine, Tigg. I've known Tigg for years and years. I'd regularly bump into him on a night out back in the day and we also completed lifeguard training together back when I was a significantly thinner version of myself. Tigg is not only my Barbour of choice, (Gent's look him up, you won't regret it!) he's also someone whos quite open and honest about his battles and methods he's found to overcome them when it comes to managing his own mental health.
As a bloke, it's sometimes difficult to speak out and be vulnerable. It's something I've definitely struggled with personally as it's kind of an expectation that us men need to be tough and be the glue that holds everything together.
Me and Tigg will often chat away whilst he's cutting my hair about things that are affecting us, and the refreshing thing is, it's never a one-way conversation or forced advice. I've never once felt like I've been judged by the things I've told him... Come to think of it, he should be charging me extra!
But, the biggest thing that I take away from Tigg's attitude to mental health, is talking. He's a massive advocate of speaking up when you feel rubbish. It's something that he's really open about on social media, and for blokes especially, it's properly admirable to see him stand up and be honest.
So what's all this got to do with weddings?
Well, quite a lot as it happens.
See, now whilst your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life, getting to that point where you finally say your I do's is a bit of a mountain to climb on its own.
I know and understand just how much you want your day to be as perfect as possible. I've spoken about it on a couple of blogs before, and I appreciate just how much even the smallest details can be blown out of proportion and cause a massive headache.
Family expectations, budgets, negotiating wedding clothes and everything else that comes hand in hand with wedding planning can really dampen the excitement and when you're spending thousands and thousands of pounds, it's completely normal to be anxious and stressed about a day that you've got so much time and money invested in.
That's where I want to bring things back around to what I was saying about Tigg, and how going forward, I want to take a leaf out of his book.
I'm fortunate enough to have spent a good decade working in the wedding sector and as such, I've seen it all when it comes to wedding worries. That's not just the photography side of things, that's in general!
I've also dealt with more than my fair share of life's obstacles too, so even if you need some advice, or just want to rant down the phone at me about whatever it is that's on your mind, that's completely fine with me. I'm more than happy to be a shoulder to cry on, cause I get it, I really do.
My Door's always open. No matter what you're struggling with, if there's any way I can help ease worries, I'm only a phone call away, because life is difficult, and I can promise you they'll be no judgement whatsoever.
Gents, that goes for you too. Speak up if you're getting weighed down, cause admitting things are hard is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and burying those emotions constantly can eventually cause bigger problems further down the line.
Just to finish things off...
It's with huge sadness, I'm devastated to say that Lee, who was featured in my blog just a couple of weeks ago when I was lucky enough to photograph his wedding with Sally, has sadly passed away.
On that blog, I posted a link to Sally's just giving page, where she is raising money to help fund further research and prevent more cases like Lee's.
If you can, it'd be great to donate now, more than ever to help fight this terrible disease.
I know this isn't my usual jovial written account of the week, but writing this blog was a bit of a big deal for me, and I've put myself out there a little bit more than I usually would, so if you've made it this far, kudos, cause it isn't half a depressing read for a Sunday evening!
Equally, if even one person found some sort of comfort in what I've written, mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned. I hope it helped!*
Normal service will resume next week, I promise!
Peace, Love and Photos.