Picturing Mental Health
Whilst mental health isn’t something we at Ready, Steady, Cut! would ordinarily dedicate entire posts to, we collectively feel it appropriate and in our duty as a largely-used online source to both support and encourage breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Have some personal insight from our own photographer and writer at Ready, Steady, Cut!, Manpreet Singh:
Although I’m usually seen gallivanting around this website showcasing my photography, I felt it only appropriate to discuss something which is on everyone’s mind for a change today: mental health. If not for mental health, I’d say it’s very unlikely my passion for photography would even exist. My name is Manpreet Singh, and those who know me well enough know about my encounters with mental health (namely, depression) and those who don’t know me that well probably know of it, too – it’s not something I’m quiet about anymore.
I’m not entirely sure how long I’ve lived with depression now, but I know it’s been a significant and prolonged aspect of my life. Having what feels like an oil-slathered blanket wrapped around your mind, suffocating it of all optimism, pleasure and general happiness is a feeling I am all too familiar with. It’s difficult to think from a positive stand-point when I’m in the throws of a depressed episode; to be rational is also somewhat of a struggle, as is being productive, both in a basic, day-to-day sense and in more intricate ways.
A vital aspect in helping me at my most mentally raw of times, as difficult as it can be, is keeping myself occupied – the difficulty in this, of course, is that depression can and often does rob one of all motivation and energy for life. That said, I’ve always found it to be memorably easier to motivate myself to partake in activities that I’m genuinely and intrinsically passionate about.
I’ve always had a keen appreciation for natural beauty and scenery. Dealing with my low moods, one day I started going on walks around my local area, and on these walks, I’d find myself in contact with masses of various types of stunning scenery. Sunsets have always been, and probably still are my most favourite visual spectacles. And so, I’d be walking along, morose mood and all, and then I’d see a ray of the setting sun’s golden light hitting a leaf in my line of sight, or I’d see a dazzling reflection of a ray rippling across the duck pond, and my first thought would be, “This is so fantastically beautiful – I must capture it.” And so it became a frequent activity I’d do when I felt my mood dip; and, as time went on, it became an activity I’d begin to do in general. Now it’s an activity I do regardless of my mood – be it lower than low or more content than during a The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathon.
People often say depression and creativity go hand-in-hand. Personally, I’ve always thought of those people as having had little experience with mental health problems, thus leading to such a romanticised statement; but after having reflected on it over the years, I think there probably is some truth to the statement – for me, at least. My eye for photography first came to me when I was in my lowest moments, and it helped me through them, and it still does. While it’s often awfully and unfairly difficult for me to think when in a depressed state, I’ve found it’s often in some of my duller dispositions that my mind has been able to appreciate some of the brightest things, even if I felt apathetic to everything else.
Mental health is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, despite what the world might make us think. Today is World Mental Health Day, but really, this should be every day. It’s essential that we don’t let this topic slip away from us; that we continue to speak about our problems both for our own, personal sake and those of everyone else. Mental health is incredibly important – just as important, if not more so, than physical health. It’s imperative to never underestimate the power and diversity of mental health, and how differently it can and does effect anyone, regardless of race, age, gender, wealth, power and every other demographic.
My difficulties with mental health helped me to discover my passion, but this didn’t cure me. That doesn’t mean it can’t help me, though – and one of a handful of things which has helped me and my mental health, aside from my closest passions, has been talking. Talk about your problems. To friends, family, strangers – even writing them down can be a great help. Just talk.
Manpreet has a personal blog which, though not currently active, is archived with posts regarding various aspects of his mental health. Feel free to have a read of his musings here.
If you’re struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to someone. A list of helpful contacts can be found here.