Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Monday, November 13, 2017

The week I nearly gave up

The week I nearly gave up, Mandy Charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, mental health, anxiety and depression

This last week has been the most physically and emotionally draining I can remember for a very long time, it would be completely understandable had their been a large life event, some kind of crisis but no, last week was just the week when I crumbled not imagining I would make it out of the other end. The week I finally said "I can't do this anymore, I can't take the pressure, I need a little help"

I've continued to work throughout and I've tried to not let clients down, people depend on me and if you're me, ringing in sick means telling your boss 10 times you can't come to work today, so even in the wee small hours when I didn't think I could make it through another day of work, I did, because I have to.

Whilst I'm not entirely sure what's going on or what the cause of my acute anxiety is due to, there have been times when I have struggled to breath, where I thought my heart would leave my chest because it felt to tight.  I've dreaded each email in case it was someone who was angry or wanted to shout at me.  To put this into context, in over 10 years in business I've probably had less angry shouty emails than I have fingers, it's a rare occurrence but with acute anxiety you imagine every single person in the whole world is angry, everyone hates you, the world is going to end, "run for the hills, we're all doomed". I have to laugh and make light of it because the only way through this is with humour, love and understanding.

I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow, I'm not sure what they can do, I'm already on the top dose of meds and I've taken those for 13 years and they're the only ones which suit me and actually work.  I've been on a 12 week waiting list for CBT since January, oh the irony!  I mentioned it to the doctor the last time I saw her and she said "Oh yes, we're really busy, mental health services are so underfunded". How the freak can it actually be like this, one in every four of us will need to use the mental health services at some point in our lives and yet our doctors just very glibly acknowledge it because they know they can't do anything about it?

Meanwhile, the unfortunate fact of my self employed life is that I can't take time off, if I stop working now, we'll all starve over winter, I dread the quiet period of Jan/Feb every year so although I'd quite like to switch on an autoresponder which says "I am now out of the office until spring" it's not actually feasible.

What I have done is looked at my remaining calendar up until Christmas, I've taken the decision to not shoot at all on weekdays because spending time home educating Looby is way more important right now and at weekends in December I'm going down to shooting sessions from 10-2 and having a lunch, it's so cold out there and I feel it more than I did 10 years ago, I still love it though, actually when I'm out photographing kids at weekends, I get the buzz of adrenalin I need to make it through, I bounce around, I'm jolly like Santa, it's only when I stop I'm instantly exhausted and fighting the urge to go to bed at 4pm in the afternoon.

When I said that I wasn't sure why I have succumbed to mass anxiety, I do know in reality the things which have caused it, small things which have just tipped the weighing scale, mostly I did way too much, I put so much pressure on myself and I crumbled.  I constantly try to be Superwoman because I want to prove you can be a single parent, you can run a business, you can be a good example to your children.  I hate being a mum with mental health issues, I hate having conversations where I try to explain to Looby about why my anxiety is so bad and I hate that sometimes we have to leave places because I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack and I can't breathe.

Christmas is my most favourite time of year and I want to get to the point where I can just focus on that without worrying about deadlines and bills and our general survival, I need a SAD lamp definitely  and I need to be less afraid of the outside world when I'm not working.

I wrote this today, not because I want or think I deserve any sympathy, on the contrary, I chose this life I have, well not all of it but certainly the self employed bit.  I wrote this because I have the ability to, because there are people all over the world who feel the same way as I do but they don't have a voice and they think they're alone, anxiety, depression, bipolar, it's out there and it's more normal than you think to feel the way I do.

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