Before I accepted my referral to The Pod, I was feeling despondent and disorientated about being bipolar. I was bereaved after losing my father and I worried about how people perceived me and often this would result in me self-harming, as way of alleviating all these troubling emotions.
I had an interest in photography and it was one of the few things that enabled me to swerve the urge to self-harm. When I began engaging with The Pod, they listened to me. They listened to me speak candidly about my sorrow and my anxieties. They listened to me speak this way in an effort to first understand me. It was a genuine, personalised approach and I found the more honest and open minded I was with them, the more they could help me capsize my negative emotions and navigate me towards my outcomes and a more positive lifestyle and outlook.
My Development Worker quickly recognised my talents and passions and illuminated them to me. I enjoyed photography and aircraft. They could see my skill for timing, framing and admired my knowledge in aviation.
Because I’m bipolar, photography helps me forget my troubles. I get a sense of achievement when I take photographs. I appreciate the feedback that my pictures receive. Generally this makes me feel proud. To me that’s a happy place. It’s a passion. It raises my self-esteem.
The Pod offers arts tasters sessions so my Development Worker identified several professional photographers that we could approach to deliver these to me. Together we studied the options. I selected the photographer I related to the most, based on their work initially. A meeting with the photographer followed and I was able to outline the areas I wanted to focus on with him. Before I began the photography tasters, I thought I knew a lot about photography but I quickly realised I knew very little! One of the key skills I learnt was using the camera in manual mode, where realised how much control I can have over an image and all the camera variables.
Previously, I only used ‘Auto’ mode on my camera but I soon realised that I can create better and unique images using ‘Manual’ mode depending on the settings I choose. For example, I can control the focus more precisely in manual and understand the ISO settings more than I did before.
I can’t help but see the similarities to how I was living my life then to how I am living now. I was on ‘auto mode’ you could say. Now, I treat life more manually, much more deliberate in the choices I make.
Editing images was big revelation to me too. Seeing how my tutor was able to manipulate and improve images was my favourite insight. I edit and manipulate my own images much more often now. I can see how different a single image can be and that’s true of life really. In the same way you can change an image, you can change your story if you really want to.
I realised I could combine my passions for photography, aircraft and travel and elevate my photography skills. There is also an element of tribute to my late father, who encouraged me to invest in my passions. Sometime in the future, I would like to exhibit my work or supply and sell prints. The key word here is future. I can see one now whereas before it wasn’t as visible to me.
Since doing the photography tasters, I have experimented with editing some of my favourite images and my employer has even asked if they can print one of my pictures to canvas and display it. My friend has also asked me to take his wedding pictures, which I am considering.
Photography has always been an important distraction for me when I am feeling unwell and I was very keen to apply what I have learnt to my practice going forward. The Pod encouraged me to grasp hold of my passions. Doing this and having sincere conversations with my Development Worker has enabled me to take ownership of my well-being. I am still grieving but I know how to absorb the pain much better now. I am now much decisive and committed to my goals and outcomes in photography and travel, blending the two.