mental health

Today something happened by Simeon Smith

Today something happened. 

I took a photo and was excited to see how it turned out. This is that photo:

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Okay, okay, it’s not a “Good Photo”. It’s not sharp. It’s not composed that well. And to MY horror, it wasn’t shot to film. But I had such a buzz when I pushed the shutter.


And it should be something that happens all the time, but these days, it’s less frequent than I’d like. 


I was looking down at my phone, trying to find my way to Nottingham’s Cat Café, trying to work out which I the blue dot on the screen was pointing and I looked up. The overpass, the the people facing me, the lights, the person in a hurry not seeing the traffic… it all came together and almost by instinct I grabbed the small digital camera that was hanging around my wrist and - CLICK. 

It was a great feeling. 

Not the greatest photo, but a great feeling.

Here’s what I’m going to make sure I get these feelings more often:

  1. Keep travelling. These days there aren’t many places in my home town that surprise me. I love my home town but I’ve lived here since 2002, and know it so well. The familiarity is great and makes for some great photos where I know the framing I want, I know the subject I want and I just have to wait for the moment. But rarely does this experience make me feel… anything. 

  2. Shoot on a great camera. Digital is great, and the images are arguably “better”, but I don’t LOVE the experience. But my Leica IIIa… Oh yes. I love holding it. I love the smell of it. I love the mechanisms. I love the cold metal. I love the sound of it. And that’s even before I see a photo! 

  3. Keep moving. Today, I was on foot. I could have caught the tram through Nottingham, but I walked, and shot pictures and felt emotions I rarely feel these days. 

Anyhow here are some more photos, that excited me less, but may actually be better. 

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On the Importance of Community by Simeon Smith

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A friend and I often tell each other about our frequent existential crises and turning points of faith and belief. During one of these conversations I asked him "Why the hell do you still go to church, then?" He replied "It's the only way I know how to make new friends." 

Which is a pretty shitty indictment for our current society. 

My mental health hinges on community. Proper community. Meeting real people at real physical venues and doing something more than drinking beer. 

Recently I've found little communities all over the place. I mean, if church works for you, sure, but if not, maybe you'll find some inspiration here. 

  1. I've been doing some 3d printing and laser cutting (yup, the laser cutting is exactly as fun as it sounds) of synth modules and camera parts at a local "Hackspace",a kind of shared co-op working space with all the fun things that you might want to make prototypes and small runs, but might not have the cash for. It's full-to-the-brim of creative people fixing, soldering, drilling, cutting, sewing, programming and generally not only sharing their ideas and skills, but also their enthusiasm. It's just beautiful and really encouraging to go along and see people's projects develop, and it definitely inspires me to get my arse into gear and step up my maker game. 
  2. Want to know a secret? ShhhhhhhhI'mnotthatintofolkmusicShhhhhh... Now don't tell my band, Captain Cat and the Sailors that! I mean, I enjoy a bit of of a jig as much as the next post-celtic brit, but I'd much rather be in a club with a DJ. Being in a band, though, is the closest thing to family I've ever experienced. For a band to work, it takes trust, commitment, and just enough friction to make things interesting. Plus, everywhere we play we meet new people, have new conversations, and hear other amazing artists. 
  3. I'm a massive geek. I love gaming, be it on a tabletop or an xbox, but playing a single-player game after the kids are in bed for a few hours just leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled. Pop down a game shop, though, and you can meet new people in a way that gets rid of the social awkwardness because YOU'RE ALL FOLLOWING THE SAME RULES. Literally. The difficulty I've found with game shops is that often the most-played games aren't great games, they're just commercially successful, but that's not the point! Sure, it'd be nicer if everyone shared my taste in games, but I'm not just there to play (and win!) I'm there to meet people, have a chat, unwind in the company of other humans. 

How to keep going. by Simeon Smith

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“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” - Toni Morrison.

Have I ever mentioned how much of a fanboy I am when it comes to Austin Kleon?

I may have done so a few hundred times. 

His books have inspired and helped me, and his attitudes towards life, music, art, parenting... are just beautiful. 

This week he posted on social media a picture of a cardboard file box. On it, scrawled in sharpie, HTKG, a cryptic clue to the title of the book he's writing at the moment. The comments section when a bit crazy with suggestions of what it could stand for, but given the titles of his last two books (Steal like an Artist, and Show Your Work) the simplest seemed the most likely, Ockham's Razor and all that. 

How To Keep Going. 

That's the book I need to read right now. 

Last week I had some shitty times. I was as ill as I've been in recent years, had some family stuff going on, and had a lot of things to prepare for this week. If you've ever had a conversation with me ill, I'm even more of a grumpy arsehole than I am normally. 

I enjoy being productive. I like to be busy. Sometimes it's probably not the healthiest, but fuck me I've got only got my three score and ten on this earth and I'll be damned if I'm not filling as full as an all-you-can-eat buffet plate on student discount night. 

But this week...

Today I was supposed to be recording music with a friend. He had other stuff crop up, so I now have an evening "free".

A nagging voice in the back of my head tells me there's tonnes of things I SHOULD be doing. 

And I reply no. There are things I COULD be doing. 

Or I could fuck around on the internet, write this blog post, make myself a mug of cocoa, and retire to bed early with a good book. 

But that scares me. 

What if I never do the things? What if I find myself in a mental health state, as I have many times previously, where I can't do the things? What if the delays on things due to my overcommitment means I let others down? 

How do I keep going? 

  • One day at a time. Today, I'm not up for anything. Tomorrow may be different.
  • Lists. Currently via Trello
  • Fitting things in. This week I have a photoshoot before work. Next week I have breakfast with a co-conspirator before my shift. I squeeze stuff into my lunch break. I ride trains and get stuff done.
  • Setting myself pointless deadlines. 
  • Distracting myself from stuff with other stuff. 

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She's A Wave by Simeon Smith

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I suffer from Generalised Anxiety and Depression. 

She’s a wave. She comes and goes. Sometimes I feel I’m drowning in her. Other times she can barely reach my ankles. 

She’s a minor wardrobe malfunction, like forgetting socks at a conference. Unless you’re really paying attention you probably wouldn’t notice her, but she robs me of confidence, and I find her so hard to ignore. 

She’s a rucksack full of rocks. Walking around with her all day is fucking tiring, but you get used to her, and when she occasionally lifts, I feel unbelievably weightless. 

She's a tapeworm. Depressed? Eat. Stressed? Eat. Tired? Eat. 

She’s a stalker following me from afar. Sometimes in the back of my mind, but then I see her, and spiral out of control.

She can’t run as fast as I can, so I run. But what she lacks in physical speed, she makes up in endurance. 

She can’t ride a bike, or swim.

She loves alcohol and uses it to grow tenfold.

She hates Sertraline, but loves to tell me that one day she’ll grow immunity. 

She’s glued my toothbrush to the sink. It’s nearly impossible to lift it. 

She lives in every blank space on every form I’ve ever struggled through. She tortures me with paperwork. 

I suffer from Generalised Anxiety and Depression. 

She fucks me over. 

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