When do you know you need help? That’s a question that has ruminated in my mind ever since everything felt all a bit too much the Spring of 2018.
There’s been some low points in my life but I think one for the memoirs will be when I was stood on a set of scales at an infamous weight-loss group (which shall remain unnamed) crying over putting 1.5 pounds on after a weekend away with my boyfriend of the time to Brighton.
Weight-gain after a weekend away > common. Me dealing with my weight gain in a healthy way including kindness and careful processing > more uncommon than a glitter unicorn dancing on the sun with Gandi.
There’s a poetic sort of irony in being a photographer specialising in food photography, diagnosed with a generalised eating disorder and body dysmorphia. I still now, even after 2 years in remission get bewildered looks from clients when I try to explain to them my sordid relationship with food.
“So… how can you differentiate between shooting food, and eating it?” A client will ask. I’ll exhale loudly after realising I myself have created this wormhole of a conversation, and if I didn’t want to talk about it, I shouldn’t of opened up in the first place. But any sort of conversation is a step in the right direction, I will remind myself whilst walking someone through it for the millionth time.
Photographing food to me is like working with any other product; getting those beautiful lines just right when shooting a burger, or making an image flow in an atheistically pleasing way when shooting food in a restaurant is just as much art to me as DaVinci painting one of his glorious masterpieces. But would I say food photography was part of my eventual downfall? Absolutely 100% it was.
I’ve always been the sort of person who looks at a bowl of fries and puts on weight. Coming from a background where I’ve had to limit my food intake to remain a ‘healthy’ weight, whilst being surrounded by all different sorts of foods on a daily basis I think may of been what sent me under. Being surrounded by all that food, that you cannot eat, but it’s there, but you can’t have it… It’s like a jaded episode of Tom & Jerry; the episode where Tom just wants to stay slim, but Jerry keeps taunting him with lots of delicious foods.
Then again, who really knows what lead to my mental health diagnoses, a combination of lots of different factors I’m sure. It was definitely something, but I don’t really spend too much time processing the Why, I just wanted to focus on the How I’m going to get better.
Sarcasm aside, I really do love talking about my mental health journey: I am one of the lucky ones. My writing style will always be dripping in dark humour and a touch of cynicism, but I am overjoyed to be sat here, writing about my experiences rather than living some other dimensional fragmented version of a life that ‘could of been’.
In fact, it’s said dark humour that I think played a huge part in my recovery. It’s that taking ownership of your situation and crafting it into something that’s yours, that’s what’s really beautiful. I would much rather laugh at my state of affairs, then find myself in that dark place of letting negative spirals dictate what I eat or how I feel about myself. Finding those moments of humour where you shouldn’t laugh but just can’t help it, is what has drawn me to working with We Are Hummingbird.
I’ve recently joined We are Hummingbird as their newest family member, so I’m sure you’ll be able to enjoy more of my sarcastic musings here on the blog from time to time. But in all seriousness, I hope to be able to offer more to WAHB and the team other than my witty banter or my kooky personality. I hope to offer insight into my experiences, as well as act to another methodical voice here on their platform. Fingers crossed you’ll be seeing a lot more of me in the months to come…
I’ve been in remission now for 9 months, and life gets simpler and little more bearable every single day. Anxiety and low mood is something I will always battle with, but the amount I let food and body image take over my life will forever now be in my control. I’m excited to see how my experiences with mental health instrument my career, and will continue to passionately create food content, despite any awkward conversations from time to time.
When do you know you need help? I guess that moment is different for everyone. That moment on the scales in 2018 may not of been my rock bottom, but it was definitely one of the last stops towards finding it. But the journey back from rock bottom, well, that’s what’s really worth sticking around for - trust me.
There’s plenty of resources here on We are Hummingbird to help you with your own journey - from our helpful wellbeing workbook, to our playlists and app recommendations. If you’re at the start, middle or on the road of your mental well-being journey, I implore you to take a look around the website.
Until next time,