It’s unknowingly become a tradition to send my Mum the most ridiculous postcards I can find on my travels. It started when I lived in Malta and she came to visit. While she was with me I was secretly finding the worst postcards and sending them to England for when she’s back home. They said silly things like ‘we just went to the pub,’ nothing more, and on the front a picture of stray cats.
Postcards are awful in general, you can find the most weirdest, most wonderful pictures and if you’re really lucky they’ll be bleached by the sun and bending. Just think of how many people have handled it! It’s truly a dying art form.
What makes them even more special is that this whole trip we were in contact with my parents by whatsapp and when you think you can’t get enough of me – 9 postcards come through the door. I’m never leaving you, parents.
In the past you would literally write what you had been up to on holiday, but obviously they already knew through being in contact and my blog. So there was no ‘Hello!!!! I’m having a great time! Yesterday we drove and today we will drive and tomorrow we will probably drive too! Miss you x’. You will see what we actually wrote.
Well, without further deliberation, I present my postcard project! Sent from 4 countries in 14 days.
Sentences pop into my brain every once in a while which sums up what I’m feeling or even advice for getting through it. It’s almost like there’s someone else in here with me that just points something out which steers me in the right direction. There isn’t a little man in here though, it’s an a culmination of all my thoughts jumbled up then like on Count Down it’s my job to find the words. It’s a little dose of clarity I need every once in a while.
Other thoughts I’ve had the past week or two that were so strong I had to write down;
Don’t become stagnant.
Exercise is the baseline for some stability.
You feel like you have so much to offer the world so why aren’t you offering it?
In light of my recent darkness, I try to embrace any warmness, any positivity, that I can. I have explained this to friends in the past, for example; why I don’t like horror films. There’s too much darkness in my brain, I dont need it on the outside too.
So although it almost feels fake drawing things like this, or trying to concentrate on warmthings or lightthings, it kind of has to be done. Drawing myself spiralling further will only encourage the dark in me. Though one truth, there’s almost always laughter in everything. Even if it’s a dark sense of humour.
Disclaimer after reading this back; I’m not a f***ing serial killer! Ha, all this ‘supressed darkness’. No sociopath here, just a Strange Case of Dr Dooming-Depression Jekyll and Mr Antisocial-Anxiety Hyde.
It’s not my knot
It can’t be
It doesn’t feel like home
Some perpetrator has nested into my body
Gathered the broken twigs of stuff I’ve known
Assembled a cosy back story
And haunts me with it
Without permission or permit.
It’s not sorry
It has set up shop and is doing very well, actually
It is not on my side
It is not me, it is just in me
As trapped as I am, it feels free
As free as a new born bird can feel
Waiting for its next meal.
It takes over all actions inside
Locked into place with its spiky exterior
My organs cushioning it, comforting it
From what’s senior
But I feel so small, this thing which is a tiny knot
Screams it’s demands
And who shouts the loudest is heard
So maybe this dark and deep void
Isn’t that absurd.
It must enjoy sitting on my chest all day
Sucking air out of my lungs, making my head spin
Sending confusing thought to my brain
Lounging at a huge control panel
Constantly switching the buttons
While myself is trying to tune into the right channel
And my body fights
I want to control it
I want to own myself
Not this thing that is not me
This thing which has turned my body
More into its home than mine.
It is too heavy, too weighted for me to lift out
Yet it acts weightless, floating in the middle of my airless doubt
Defying anything I thought possible
Which makes sense
As this knot feels unsolvable.
I put on makeup today. It’s been just over a week. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but I suppose this symbolises how hard I’m trying to help myself. Oh my god, if only I could not wash, lay in bed and forget there’s an outside world. Today I’m acknowledging there’s a world – hi world, how are you today?
For me I’ve always had a strange relationship with makeup. It generally corresponds with how healthy I am mentally but is always contradicting itself. From feeling awful so not wearing any, to feeling so good about myself so I refuse to wear any. Then feeling awful so I wear loads, or feeling great so I’ve put loads on. This time I’m trying to feel good, trying to look after myself. It must be a universal things that mental health and makeup are interlinked. Oh the irony that something as ugly as depression goes hand in hand with beauty.
When I look back without diving too deep into the past I’ve reached this stage in five phases.
I started wearing makeup as a teenager. Later than others for sure, I’ve spent most of my life being ignorant to what ‘we are expected to do as women’, then when the time came I didn’t know how to put it on. YouTube wasn’t around or wasn’t as huge as it is now, so no tutorials, no tips, just a girl thinking I should probably start doing this now. My mum didn’t wear any so it was guess work and although at the time I thought I was doing a good job I definitely wasn’t. Do you ever look back at things and just feel dread? Yeah, I have no idea what my face looked like. I suppose I got a little bit better at some point. I hope. For my teenage self.
When I moved to Malta at aged 20 I stopped wearing makeup because it was too hot and uncomfortable. I think I wore eye liner and mascara if I went out out, but I basically stopped and it wasn’t anything bigger than that. A year later I moved back and when I started work and socialising with my old friends I started wearing it again. I’m completely unaware of how I wore it, I can’t remember putting foundation on. Maybe I wore very little. If only my memory wasn’t so bad, it’ll make story time so much easier.
2013 shit got real and I got really mentally ill. I had a lot of time off work and had to reboot myself. I’m sure I’ve read before that when you have a breakdown something actually breaks in your mind, so it’s natural to go back to a childlike state. So no make up for months. Something else happened which was very strange, and I assume it correlates with going back to a childlike state, but because my body and mind was learning things all over again I was having revelations every day. I forgot how to socialise and so I would ramble these new revelations at whoever would listen – one of them being about make up. I was disgusted that I had to cover up to be socially accepted, and it’s not accepted for men to do it etc. You get the idea. There were many rants about gender and society.
In the same year, still off work and still very unwell, I discovered beauty gurus on YouTube and I finally understood that make up can be about yourself and it’s an art form. There are people out there that wear it for others, to fit in, but there’s also many women and men that wear it for themselves. This blew my mind. I felt like something unlocked in my brain because I honestly hadn’t thought about it like that. I had only worn it so far to look normal, to be very honest with myself.
So I started experimenting, copying tutorials. Very badly done and even now I have no skills, but I enjoyed it. When I had days where I struggled to get out of bed or go outside because my anxiety was awful, I would spend an hour or two putting on make up, and it helped me. It calmed me, it got me out.
I still was out of my mind, I almost had to tell myself things for it to be ‘okay’ and that I’m not giving into social standards. I still don’t know the truth, but I would tell myself that the female sex does scientifically enjoy feminine things, therefore my natural body does want this, I’m not doing it for others. Why was I enjoying it when I was so opposed to it?! Gahhh melt down!
I also experimented with the idea that it’s a mask. Like I said, I was aware people wear it to fit in or they wear it for themselves, and so I started doing it for myself so people wouldn’t know what my mind was really like. The amount of times, even now, people say ‘oh wow, you don’t look like you have anxiety and depression’. This mask of makeup covered it up, literally. I’m not saying I would suppress my mental illness, just that to deal with it in public or around people I don’t want to open up to, I would cover up. I couldn’t feel social anxiety as bad when my make up makes me look like every other girl, and that I’m ‘well’. I wore it so I could live.
I started to wear all the time when these revelations dyed down which, for me, meant I was self conscious of who I actually was. There’s a fine line you have to balance along – but maybe only if you’re battling with mental health issues. If I have a time period of being wrapped up in ‘fake things’, I end up drowning in social norms, but forgetting I don’t breath on reality TV or appearances – I end up wearing make up everyday to keep up the act. ‘I am normal I am normal’
I was also single at this time so was I wearing it to entice? Entice sounds like a horrible word, makes my skins crawl.
Finally I’ve reached the steady stage now where I feel like I’m in a healthy place where I don’t have to ‘impress’ or ‘fit in’. I still mask myself if I need to, so at work definitely, but I also wear it because it makes me feel good. I feel like I have a little more control on the contradicting needs I have – the need to hide, the need to be myself, the need to be part of society, the need to reject anything to do with the norm. I suppose I’ve managed to normalise make up. (No doubt there will be more ups and downs though)
I like myself, sure there will always be insecurities but I like who I am and if I have to wear make up to embrace the world that day I have to welcome it – with a shimmering eye shadow and all.
As I’ve moved yet again (I’ve moved a lot in the last 5 years, that’s weird to look back on, but this time its only to a bigger room) I thought I’d share a few photos from my teenage bedroom in comparison to the one I just moved out of. I fully moved out of it 2012 when these photos were taken, which meant my photo wall disappeared, and to be fair that’s all I cared about and basically all I took photos of when I left. And to also be fair again, best way to be, my entire room was covered in photos so not sure why I always called one wall my photo wall when the others were equally covered. Teenagers, ay?! Mental.
Let us begin.
May 2012 – taken aged 21 but room decorated aged 14-19
November 2016 – aged 25
I don’t think there’s a huge difference between that room and the one I just moved out of. Less experimental with photos maybe. More ‘adult’ now. I used to cut photos out, overlap them, use masking tape to stick them to the wall, group them into colours or feeling. It was eclectic and a lot, I wish I could have captured all of it in one frame. Now I have collected artwork which I’ve framed, and have more items I’ve made. I see my old, old room as a blank canvas or a lesson which helped refine how I like to style, which I’m still learning (homes are never finished), and it may not seem important in the slightest but having creative and experimental surroundings feel comforting to me. Having a generic room isn’t comforting, it feels off and not myself, but the way I style is not for everyone, it’s definitely not for my family, but I like that.
I hadn’t finished this bedroom I just left, I was just getting started but I wanted this room I’m in now so bad. Already it feels good. I think it’s a positive change, and I’m seeking all the positivity I can get right now.
I transformed my last bedroom drastically to what it was before, and I’ve already changed this new one completely with the layout compared to how my brother had it. I go with my gut, decorating is important and fun to me, but I like it to be completely how I want it, not anyone else. There’s a ‘practical space’ that would work for everyone, then there’s a ‘practical space’ that suits me and my needs. It has to feel right. I haven’t painted but I don’t think I’m done with having grey walls yet. I need to live here for a bit then it’ll hit me round the face how I want to decorate, and I thrive on that inspiration.
I couldn’t describe to you what I’m interested in when it comes to photography. It’s a general question that’s asked from other photographers, and it’s totally understandable because I’m interested in what you do too, but how can I answer it when the answer is so wide open?
My reply is pretty similar to this;
Erm.. It’s kind of hard to explain. I don’t do it professionally, once upon a time I wanted to but when I realised the best way to earn a living would be weddings and advertising I was instantly switched off.. I do personal projects, about like.. actually you probably wouldn’t find it interesting, and I’m not sure what purpose they would be for, I just do them and don’t share them – at least not yet. I like a meaning behind them, but I also just like them to look pretty.. That sounds dumb, obviously they have to look somewhat good. I’d like to sell photos I think, but completely on my terms, which is very stubborn I know. I often document things, important things to me, which I assume probably means that’s my favourite form..
Erm.. and.. I don’t give a fudge about the equipment I use.
Pause… Are you still breathing?
If you are the type very interested in the equipment, just hear me out.
I’m 25, so yes my style will probably grow. I know my ideas have grown since college, aged 16-18, but even then I was never the type to be interested in the digital side of the medium. It was so clear seeing which aspect sparked up someone’s passion from the work they handed in, or how they dealt with an assignment. Like school, there were labels for what kind of photographer you were – though not a fan of labels myself. So rather a ‘geek’ or ‘popular’ there were the ones that were interested in having the best SLR, the ones who liked fashion, the ones who liked sport, the ones in it for the money, the ones to liked film, the ones who didn’t really know what they liked, and then the ones who were in the same group as me – but I still don’t know what that’s called. I knew what I liked and disliked, but I suppose the simplest way to describe it would be I liked to capture something that had some meaning to me.
Now, after years of not doing it to complete an assignment, and finding my own inspiration while still not wanting to be a professional photographer, to me photography is a very quick moment in time that I wish to capture. Obvious answer, but I literally mean that. The way my brain works, if I’m somewhere and I see a frame I want to take a photo instantly of what I see. Right. Then. I don’t want to pause and think, I don’t want to take loads of photos trying different angles, I don’t want to keep going until I have the ‘perfect’ photo. It’s not about the perfect photo. It’s a snap of the finger. It’s a flash of lightening, a jolt, something has shaken up the Earth for one second and the need in me wants to photograph that inspiration. The feeling is very quick and can disappear just as fast. It’s a feeling of elation, or hope, a spark, I see something that has stirred a feeling in me and I want to capture that very moment, not a few seconds after.
Obviously I’m not that quick, I’m not super human, it’s not a stressed out situation where I faff to get my camera out and then ‘damn, I’ve missed it!’ but instead I take the photo and move on. This is also bearing in mind that I have my ‘photography goggles’ on – I’m out with the purpose of taking photographs, it’s in my hand or close reach, and in the back of my mind I’m naturally framing everything I see so if find that spark of inspiration comes along I’m ready. I also wouldn’t take a photo if I don’t find it. This all being said, I hope you realise I’m talking about my personal photography rather than if I were taking a photo of a product or something specific where you actually have to get the ‘perfect’ shot.
I just find it so fascinating and liberating how a camera can capture how you view the world. At college everyone in my class would take a photo differently of the same object, and it’s wonderful to think this tool you have – whether it’s a crappy one or the best money can buy – can show others what you’re seeing, and you can read so much into a person because of that. Growing up wanting to be a photographer got confusing because I wanted to be the best I could be (and when I couldn’t I would give in), I wasn’t even sure what direction I wanted to go or how I wanted to frame something so I could be ‘different’ or ‘perfect’. It doesn’t have to be about perfection, that pressure can disappear, and it doesn’t have to be a competition. Just tell a story. You forget how simple it can be – you can get your own style by just being yourself.
I believe you can suck the life out of a photo so much that there’s nothing real left and there’s no meaning, and that’s a mistake I don’t like to achieve.
Now this is where my Olympus Trip comes in. I know I said I don’t care about equipment – I want to tell the story, not what I took the story on – but this amazing little camera works wonders for this style. I love it so much, I value it enormously, it has naturally become my go to camera. I got it from one of my best friends for my 17th birthday, and she bought it from a boot fair for a couple of quid – before they got popular. When we were at college together we were always experimenting with all different equipment, manly film, but we would literally just play with cameras or in the studio, and somehow our teacher allowed us to because I suppose he saw us learning even if we thought we were just playing.
Along the years I just learnt how to use this camera really well. I can choose the focus easily and quickly, and it’s usually right. I started viewing every shot I made on any camera through the eyes of my trippy, and over time whatever I hoped to come out would come out as I wanted. I was always better with film, even at college, but with Mr Trip something clicked. It was definitely trial and error though the years, don’t get me wrong even now there are dud photos, we just have learnt to morph together. What tops it off is that the colours are beautiful, if using film wasn’t so expensive I would without a doubt use it constantly – unfortunately it’s not practical enough for everyday things I need to photograph.
So when I say photography has developed into an emotional thing for me and its more about the feeling I felt at that time, this camera will win every time, hands down, in helping me capture that.
This is my long winded answer to what I’m interested in. I’ve found when I’m asked I can’t give that person the discussion about equipment that they thrive on. It seems funny to me, I don’t care what I use, I just want to get the shot. Personally, I’m not interested in the equipment, and I’m happy that I’ve found a camera I can work with so well. I haven’t found a way to say any of this quickly and that doesn’t offend or disinterest the other person, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Whether you see photography as an art form or not, we are still on the same side. Express yourself however you want.
My last shift in a photo centre is on Saturday. I’m going to miss those Charlie’s Angels. New starts brings out reflection in me.