Considering The Year Ahead, Life, Death And Photography

It would be impossible to think of the future without considering that there is the potential for me to die from heart disease. As you’re aware I have decided not to have surgery for my heart condition. I can see how dieing could be a scary experience, but I have been at peace since making this decision.

Knowing that I have a limited time left has most certainly helped me to focus on living well and considering whether my daily actions improve the quality of my life. This doesn’t mean running around like a mad march hare and doing, doing, doing. Sometimes I just want to sit still and do nothing, others I want to read or birdwatch, and occasionally I want to be around people.

I’m not used to being around people, and I can struggle even when I’m around those who I love and feel safe with. Getting the balance right for me isn’t easy, I’ve had a wonderful Christmas, but I’m ready to go home now.

When I return home my plan is to begin meditating daily. Meditation is most definitely linked to my creativity and photography. I have a few ideas for photographic project’s and I know meditation will help with developing these. I have vague ideas about making photos with others who identify as being non-binary or gender fluid, and making use of masks or props to explore and express gender identity.

I’ve particularly enjoyed my embroidered photography this year, for my project “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia, And The Strengths Of My Recovery.” I completed the project just before Christmas, but I don’t feel ready to make these public at the moment. The wonderful thing is that I already have a gallery/arts project who would like to exhibit the series. I can see the potential for building upon this work to explore mental health further. Meditation will definitely aid my progress in these areas.

“Snippets” is a series I’m currently working on in which I write down snippets of overheard conversation and take a photo in the area of which the conversation was heard. I got the idea from a fellow OCA photography student Chloe Halstead. The idea is to have this as a long term project using my Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and to present the series as a photo book.

Hopefully I will also have some news about my application for a bursary to study an Open Foundation in Creative Writing, with the Open College of the Arts, I can feel some more photo essays coming along.

Colour is also going to feature in the clothes I wear, it’s time to bring more colour and variety into my attire, and today I’m top to bottom in yellow. I’ve also seen some green corduroys that I like. I’ll give them some thought.

I guess I’ll need to tone the colours down when birdwatching, something which I plan to do more of this year. I’m so grateful that I discovered RSPB Rainham Marshes. One thing that would aid my birdwatching would be finding a teleconverter that I can attach to the front of my Mzuiko 75-300mm lens. I can’t currently afford one. However, I have four photos appearing in The Loudest Whispers exhibition, run by The Arts Project London, during February, March and April. If they sell then I’ll be able to afford a teleconverter. Fingers crossed. 

I don’t have a bucket list, but I would like to be able to go on a birdwatching holiday during the summer.

Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead.

A Change Of Direction

A recent health event has meant I’ve had to reconsider the direction of my life on all fronts.


I have a heart condition, which has suddenly deteriorated, and I’ve made the decision not to have surgery. It was diagnosed several years ago, and I have known that I would need to make a decision regarding surgery for a long time. Generally the condition gets worse gradually, and mine was following the usual path until last month. After a routine scan I was held back and the registrar asked to speak to me. I wasn’t expecting the news at this stage, so it has been a shock. Creating the space to speak with my nearest and dearest has been my priority.


My spiritual beliefs have been the bedrock of my decision to allow my life to follow its natural course. I feel a deep sense of peace with my decision.


What I want right now is to have the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. When I consider my future a few things are important to me. My friends and family, photography and study. I had planned to move on to studying for a degree in photography, but I no longer think that this is appropriate for my health and wellbeing, so I have decided to alter my direction.


Naturally I will still make photography and continue with personal projects, but I’ve decided to study for an Open Foundation in Creative Writing with the Open College of the Arts. I like to write, and I combine photography with my writing, especially when producing photo-essays. Converting to creative writing will minimise the stress, and it also means that during those times when I’m less able to be physically active, I will still be able to be meaningfully occupied.

Quality of life is the most important thing whilst I allow the cycle of life to play out. Daily I ask myself “What can I do today that will bring meaning to my life, and give me the opportunity to create value and culture?”


Two Years Blogging On WordPress


WordPress sent me a notification that I have reached my two year anniversary of being a WordPress blogger. During that time I’ve seen some amazing photography by my peers, followed some awesome blogs from awesome people around the world, developed a new online community, taken advice about what camera would be better for my long term development, and some how I have 1,919 people follow my blog.

WordPress has been a wonderful platform for me, my prose and my photography.  I’m most grateful.


I’ve Just Restored Some Deleted Posts – Feeling Vulnerable About My Eating Disorder

This week has been obe in which I have felt vulnerable in relation to my eating disorder, and because of this I deleted many of my personal posts which appeared in my creative writing page. The page has become more of a journal, and I felt exposed by having the posts public. So I deleted them.

Having just restored them I am hoping that WordPress hasn’t posted them to the feeder as if they were new. I don’t want to bore you all with things that you have already read. I will find out shortly.

I am feeling very grateful today. I have been out with my camera, and it is so nice to be out and about with it again. Photography is such an important part of my life, and one of my main motivators for change. To be able to slowly walk around and see through the eye of a lens has been joyous, and it brings me much needed hope.



My Current Experience Of Anorexia

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.

I’ve had an eating disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia the age of 17. Up until the age of 29 anorexia controlled my life and had a serious impact upon my mental health and well-being. Then slowly I started to increase my calories and have a healthy diet. Over a number of years I began to eat more and more and my anorexia turned into binge eating disorder.

For the past four years I have switched between binge eating disorder and anorexia, and each period of these illnesses lasts for many months. With binge eating disorder I feel completely out of control and full of shame and guilt for eating food.

My current experience of anorexia is completely different from that during my younger years. Right now I like my experience of anorexia (and I only speak of my own experience). I feel completely in control, my mental health has improved greatly. My suicidal thoughts have diminished and my anxiety is quite low, although I do still experience paranoid thinking and feelings and have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

My self-esteem improves with anorexia, I take more care of my appearance and my environment, and I am full of energy, my motivation is good, I buy new clothes which fit me and there are parts of my body which I like (such as my arms, shoulders and lower legs). It’s really quite nice to like parts of myself, and on the whole, to be enjoying life.

The downside is that my health is starting to deteriorate, my blood chemistry changing, my blood pressure has dropped, I have orthostatic hypotension, and the QT interval (part of the heartbeat) is beginning to elongate. This means that I could become an inpatient for the treatment of anorexia.

I’m working very closely with my psychiatric team, and we are following an anorexia nervosa harm reduction model. Increasing my calorific intake too quickly increases my anxiety and suicidal thoughts, so we are increasing my calories at a very slow rate. Every increase that my psychiatrist and I have agreed I have stuck to, which is very positive and am pleased that I am making progress. My progress is slow and it won’t be enough to keep me out of hospital, but it is progress. We are trying to keep me out hospital for as long as possible because I find hospital and overwhelmingly scary experience.

On a personal level I have no desire to either increase my calories or my weight, why would I when anorexia improves the quality of my life experience? The only motivator that I have to change is the desire to stay out of hospital and to reduce the length of time of a likely admission.

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.
Todays total calories. Although this may appear to be a small amount of food, it is double that of what it was in May when my psychiatrist and I agreed to follow the harm reduction model.

My current experience of anorexia, which is a positive experience for me, is far different than it wasfor me in between the ages of 17 and 29, and I am aware that other people’s experience of anorexia is often very negative.

Recovery is possible from all eating disorders, and I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of support froman  eating disorders charity. Am I a positive role model for recovery from anorexia? On one hand my response to this is no because I’m enjoying my experience of anorexia and I am still losing weight. On the other hand I have to answer yes, because I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of third sector support. I have also stuck to every increase in calories which I’ve agreed with my psychiatrist, without backtracking at all, and I’ve stopped purging completely. Recovery in my mind is doing anything which increases quality of life. Following the harm reduction model has meant that I’m experiencing less muscular pain and increased ability to walk around, and be able to be fully engaged with my photography and study.

A larger town that is nearby to me has an outpatient day service for people with eating disorders which I have requested to attend. The difficulty is funding for a place. The day service is run and managed by different NHS trust than the one for the area where I live, and obtaining funding from my local NHS trust to attend an out of area service is time-consuming and frustrating.

For those of you who read this post, who also have an eating disorder would like to stress that recovery is possible, my recovery may not be the greatest example, the recovery can be difficult and slow process for many of us. Baby steps, one step at a time, but sticking with these steps and moving forwards is definitely progress which is achievable and sustainable.

If you have an eating disorder please try to talk to somebody you know and trust, and ask them to support you in attending your doctors.  There are many eating disorder services and charities throughout the world.

United Kingdom


Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States





The Minds Foundation




It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.

Humility Exists In The Space Between Arrogance And Self Hatred

I’ve been still and relaxed today, which is good for my soul, and provides the intimacy that I need for honest self-reflection.

My arrogance and self-hatred are both defence mechanisms that I use to keep others away from me. It’s not deliberate, it’s an internal form of self-preservation that’s been a response to trauma, and a symptom of complex post traumatic stress.

When I’m in the space of arrogance then ‘Im ok, you’re not ok’ a position of blame or superiority. When I’m in the space of self-hatred then ”you’re ok, I’m not ok’ I have you on a pedestal and myself in the gutter, a place of inferiority.

Both positions are an external projection of my feelings of inferiority, and a need to find a space in the world in which it’s ok to be me. To have strengths and weaknesses and be at peace with both.

Certainly I feel more comfortable in my skin, more often. Much more often.

I can only be ok with you and you’re strengths and weaknesses when I am ok with mine, and that’s humility. Humility is knowing who you are. Genuine self-knowledge and acceptance. It’s a simple understanding that I have unique strengths and weaknesses, as do you. This is the place where I meet you as an equal, individually unique, but as equals ‘im OK – you’re OK’.

When I become aware that I’m experiencing arrogant thoughts I know  that I feel like I’m being judged, and the arrogance is like a belligerent ‘fuck you, I’m better than you anyway’ it’s feelings of  inferiority  manifesting as blame and self-righteousness.

When I’m aware that I’m being intensely self-critical and experiencing self-hatred, it’s because I feel shame. Ashamed of who I am, I can never be as good as you, I’m unworthy and you most definitely are superior to me. Neither of these are humble.

I am aware of these experiences today and can recognise them quickly, and allow myself to feel the underlying feelings that arrogance and self-hatred mask. The feelings pass, and I can meet you in a place of self and other acceptance.

Today I’ve experienced feelings of superiority and inferiority, and observing the shifts and allowing them to be, has meant that I’ve found equilibrium between strengths and weaknesses.

I go to bed knowing that I am OK and you are OK.

Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

A Hermits Journey

A Hermits Journey

I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence.

A Hermits Journey

My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as much joy to be found in darkness as there is in light. That’s not the way it used to be, so I think a positive attitude comes with experience and age.

A Hermits Journey

People are important to me. Through my studies I have developed an online community, and I have some very close and wonderful friends that I have known for years. However I chose not to meet with people very often, I prefer to have a physical distance, and enjoy the freedom of not having to be with people.

A Hermits Journey

If I spend too much time around people I feel overwhelmed and oppressed. It’s not that people are oppressive, its hard to explain. I find that being with people is quite heavy and tiring. It’s hard for me to just let go and move with current of life when I am in the company of others.

A Hermits Journey

Its much easier to blend into the background and be invisible.

A Hermits Journey

Spirituality, in my mind, is not about a church or belief system. Nature and space provide me with a connection and nourishment, as of course do birds. For me, feeling connected, that I have a place and purpose is important, and photography has given me that in bucket loads. I am grateful for my camera, and grateful to be studying photography.

A Hermits Journey

Gratitude is something that is so important to me. It is possible to feel grateful for so many small things, and in this photo its the colour and texture of the wood, and how they are strengthened and exaggerated by the snowy background. One of the many things that I found to be grateful for on my walk. Gratitude is a spiritual practice. At the end of each day I write five things down in my daily gratitude journal. Positivity has to be cultured.

A Hermits Journey

One of the down sides to living the life of a hermit is that there is a wee bit too much time for thinking. I find it is easy to slip into either negative thinking or dwelling on the past.

A Hermits Journey

Too much self-reflection can leave me feeling trapped, brittle and easy to break.

A Hermits Journey

During those times I have to dig deep and find my inner strengths and push myself forward. Colour and beauty is to be found within those inner resources that I use to move onwards and upward.

A Hermits Journey

Once I have pushed myself back up to the top of the hill, and re-discovered the joy of being, I can take a rest at my post. I lean upon this post with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. There are so many different bird species to be found in this small patch of bracken, bramble and trees. Peace and beauty flutter around me.

A Hermits Journey

In the journey through life people come and go. Maybe in passing, for however long that maybe, we will sit on these benches together and connect. But whether I sit with you, or someone else, I will never be alone because I will always be with myself.



I am so grateful that I have used the opportunity provided in exercise 3.3 to explore different themes in relation to photography as a sequence. The photos for A Hermits Journey were taken during a walk from Whitby Abbey, down into the town, along the river Esk into Ruswarp, and then back into Whitby, ending with a walk along the West Cliffs.

The walk took me five hours, and I took many photos along the way. Although I will publish others in my gallery, I narrowed my selection for this narrative down to twelve photos which I could use to express a little of who I am. These photos are sequential in relation to the walk that I took, and I have tried to use my words in a manner that flows throughout.

If viewed by anyone who hasn’t walked the route I enjoy, then the photos without text would be seen as a series rather than as a sequence. The writing brings the photos together as a sequence, and provide a way for me to communicate and express myself. This is directive in its manner and probably doesn’t leave the viewer asking questions, although some may be able to relate to different aspects. I don’t believe that this has any abstract or conceptual slant to it, and fits very neatly into a genre of narrative photography.

Critique and feedback are always welcome on my blog.