These photographs were taken from 2016 to 2018, during the time I was unaware at how my mental health was slowly deteriorating, I became unhinged to say the least and it manifested itself in this series. Art is long life is short, a gentle mortality reminder found outside the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. And a kick up the arse if anyone needed one.
During this time I became an actor; a functioning member of society but if I found myself alone, I fell apart at the seams. The moments before I went to sleep I would plan how to disappear after doing the school run, making sure everything was in place for my absence, then I’d wake up and wonder what the hell I was thinking before doing it all again later that day. I honestly never felt suicidal, more of an escape of the in-between I had found myself in. I didn’t know who I was, all I knew is that I was unhappy.
I finished university tired and jaded and ended up in jobs I detested with no time to create, ever increasing contempt towards the meaningless tasks I performed. These photographs for all their existence were instant, I couldn’t set them up, I had to react to the short time I got to walk and switch off from trivialities. The bleakness was never planned, unconsciously presenting my emotional state in small images.
2018: I had ruined our family holiday, I had stopped talking, I retreated from seeing friends and had started to drink quite heavily. When I think of certain situations during this time, I’m frankly embarrassed by my actions, I played the drunken fool to give the impression I was OK. My breaking point was a walk around the city centre where I found myself crying in the street, on my own. I proceeded to drink a bottle of wine in the bath and slept off the rest of the day as I didn’t need to pick up the kids from school. Logical thinking at its best. I was a complete wreck and the façade was slipping. Finally, a GP visit, blood tests, talks of antidepressants and therapy happened. Then the tests came back, possible brain tumour was mentioned and suddenly everything looked incomprehensible.
Then I started talking, letting slip that I wasn’t doing well, and people listened and checked in on me. A probable reason as to why I was feeling unhappy became a strange relief. It shifted the pressure I was placing on myself to get a better job, to take photographs and be a “better person”. Walks past the carved stone Latin became a regular thing on my way to appointments and it transpires stress is quite a thing. I had become so stressed over the years I had caused my body to create physical symptoms, this tumour scare gave me a green light to restart everything.
These photographs document a time where I couldn’t see the good stuff. The stuff that holds place in my heart, the things that make me happy, the people I want to be around and my boyos who are the best things in my life. It’s taken a lot of time to be able to look at this series and make sense of it all.