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Mental Health

Today just so happens to be World Mental Health Day, and I’d like to take this opportunity to speak about my own experiences, especially considering I’ve had to take time off work recently as a direct result of my own Mental Health. It’s all very real for me at the moment and I’ve finally got to the stage where I’ve had to ask for help.
 
Firstly, I’ve suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for as long as I can remember. This puts me in a generally low state throughout autumn / winter, and I have to try extremely hard to not fall into a trap, continually setting myself up for things to look forward to, or spending money on things that bring me pleasure in order to keep my mind occupied.

There are lots of things to look forward to in Autumn, and I am trying hard to break this cycle, but this is historical for me (and I’m sure many others), as autumn has always been a time of worry, stress, ill-health, bullying, drama, heart ache, anxiety, money problems… The list is endless  and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense why I am the way I am. Returning to school after a summer of roaming the British countryside, most of the time on my own, was always going to be hard to adjust to. Being forced to be in a room full of people, most of which are bullies, because if you don’t, you’ll fail at life. The system is a mess, with no regard to individuals.

This is where my social anxiety started and as the anxiety grew, I’ve sculptured my entirely life around it, making important life changing decisions as a direct cause of my social anxiety. I lost all my friends, not because we fell out, but because I chose to separate myself from a world I wasn’t happy with. Some deal with this reality positively and face it head on, and I’ve tried that.. I became a musician.. about the only place I was comfortable being in within any social environment, hiding behind a drum kit, watching the night go by and not really being a part of it. Just sitting there in my own world doing what I love, and doing it as best as I could, every single time. This seemed to work at the time but the reality was, it made me worse, and that is where I had my first anxiety attack. The first anxiety attack nearly put me in hospital as literally thought I was going to die, I didn’t know what it was, nor how to deal with it. That day I literally went home to my mother and cried my eyes out.. I hadn’t cried that much at my own grandparents funeral. Still don’t even know what the trigger was, other than trying to be the best I could be, the best way I knew how, and that was to get the speakers sounding perfect, the drums in tune, my hands warmed up, the car parked in a spot that wasn’t too far to carry the gear, all of which were far from perfect. The pressure to please people and myself got too much and something had to give out and the only thing I had left was my brain, which seemed at the time to have disappeared. It’s often called a panic attack, and that’s because the body has a flight or fight response to an experience that you can’t control. It happened again, at another Gig and even though it was bad, I did handle it a little better, because I knew what it was.

It’s good to know about these things, but nothing can prepare you for experiencing it yourself as it’s a silent killer. You aren’t aware its even there before it’s too late and you’re scraping yourself off the floor.

While it is tough for me, I can’t begin to think of how hard it must be for the people closest to me. My Girl friend and my Family know how hard it is to get me at family gatherings, social events, meals, weddings, shows, or just general meet ups. It affects me every day, and it’s hard to even talk about it as it just makes me ten times worse.

There’s no surprise that I’ve ended up with a passion for wildlife photography and nature conservation,. It’s because the outdoors takes me back to a world that is perfect…A world that doesn’t worry about human culture, it just carries on delivering the most memorable experiences of my life, all the while, making me a healthier person, thru sound, smell, touch and visual elements that have inspired the best creative minds in the world. Nature is incredibly powerful.

All I want from life is to be healthy, do right by my family, love my girl friend the best way I can, and share this wonderful world of nature we have on our doorstep with you. To do this, I'm going to need some help, and it starts by making everyone aware that people are suffering from their own Mental Health story, and I do take comfort knowing that I’m not alone. I just wished society would catch up faster, and start seeing us for the fragile minds we are, living each day as it comes.

I could go on but I think I’ll leave it there as I doubt I’ll sleep a wink tonight after this.
I’ll leave you with some photographs I’ve taken in the last couple of months. I haven’t managed to get out much as I’ve been flat out at work researching for a new Tv series for BBC Wales.

If all this is new to you but you feel you might be suffering from something similar, I’m happy to talk about it, but there are lots of support groups and a Doctor can offer various ways to help.

 

An opportunity I cannot miss!

My time as a Seasonal Ranger has come to an end, with my last official day with them just yesterday. But why you say? You love it at Llandegfedd! This is very true, I do love Llandegfedd, and thankfully, my connection to Llandeg goes much deeper than a Job with Welsh Water, and that connection will never end. 

So what's next? Well, I've been offered a Job as a Specialist Wildlife Researcher for Aden Productions to help produce Iolo Williams' next wildlife documentary for the BBC. It's a great opportunity that I simply cannot turn down, and I can't wait to start with them on the 28th of this month. It will mean some extra travelling but it's well worth it, working alongside like-minded people, all of which share my passion for wildlife. I appreciate all the support from friends and family, as though this change is a good change, I still struggle at times like this as my anxiety can sometimes get the better of me. 

Below are four of my favourite pics from Llandeg last year. I'm sure I'll continue to have many more memorable moments at what is such a fabulous place for wildlife.  

Last week in the Beacons

One more week before the Job change and I'm making the most of early spring in the beacons. I am going to miss working for BBNP, they have been so great to work for. This view was ontop of the Alt Mountain overlooking Talybont and Brecon. It's a fabulous view and well worth the climb. I luckily got to go up in a quad bike however and that seemed hard enough at times! 

The Alt 

This weekend I spent most of my time in the Garden. Last year we planted lots of wild flowers to encourage wildlife and this year we've installed a pond. Something I've always wanted to do! If you don't have a pond, get one! They can be really easy to make, can even make one out of an old washing bowl if you want to, and it will encourage wildlife, damselflies, dragonflies, toads, newts and frogs ect. Can't wait to see what ends up in the pond as we live just down from the canal so I'm sure something will end up in there. In the garden I also had a visit from a Dark-edged Bee Fly, 2 weeks earlier than in previous years. April is ahead of us however and it's my favourite month of the year! So much to see and hear with birdsong in full swing. With a new Job locally, I will get more time with my camera so will hopefully pick up where I left off. 

Dark-edged Bee Fly

Gard Pond (In Progress)

Scouts Photography Talk

Scouts Photography Badge

Tomorrow I'll be meeting up with 1st Panteg (St Mary's) Scout Group in Newinn where they are awaiting being taught how to use a Camera! I'll be starting with the youngest group, showing them some of my photographs on this very website and hopefully teaching them what it takes to be able to get creative and take photographs that they are happy with. I'm really looking forward to meeting with them as the scouts will have to work really hard to earn their photography badge! (yes, they have a photography badge!). This week we'll be indoors but next week will be the tester as we venture out to Pontypool Park to put their skills to the test. 

Good luck Scouts!