Shadows of Heysham is a series of photographs that allows me to explore my mental health, and my battle with anxiety.
Anxiety is affecting my photography
Lately, my struggles with anxiety is affecting my passion and motivation for creating Gothic horror photography.
Unfortunately, I was allowing my work as a Health and Safety, Compliance manager to drain me. Simply put, my life was all work and no play! In addition, a lack of self-love wasn’t helping me either.
Therefore, it is no surprise that in 2017, I was diagnosed with ‘general anxiety disorder‘.
Since then, I have ventured on a remarkable, self-therapeutic journey of examining my mental health and I am continuing to learn so much. Furthermore, throughout my recovery, I am continually drawn to Heysham.
Indeed, there are so many shadows of my childhood here that are both beautiful and traumatic.
If one focuses and dwells in the beautiful aspects of life, what I consider light, consequently, their outlook will be much lighter. However, focusing and dwelling in the shadows, can only bring more darkness. Unfortunately, I was choosing to constantly dwell in the shadows, but strangely enough I find it to be my therapy.
Are you confused?
Allow me to try and answer this. Shadows of Heysham is my photography journal that allows me to explore the darkest recesses of my mind. There are still aspects of trauma that remain hidden, but my photography helps me to explore my feelings, therefore finding light.
Graveyard photography and Graves disease
My Gothic horror photography is undoubtedly an expression of my mental health. Lots of people consider it to be dark and morbid, but I still find it fascinating and alluring. More importantly, today, I no longer care if people dislike it. I’m happy with it and that is what counts!
My journey so far includes the diagnosis of GRAVES DISEASE, which is certainly bloody ironic don’t you think?
Unfortunately, at the time of diagnosis, this revelation was another set back where I dwelled in the misery of ‘why me’! It is easy to do this when you are constantly living with a habit of expecting the worst case scenario. Obviously, my career was constantly focusing on ‘what-if‘ scenarios that developed into the woe of catastrophising.
Graves disease is connected with my thyroid problem, which I had removed in 2018. It almost killed me! Sepsis set in as a direct result of my operation and this is another contributing factor to my battle with mental health issues, and anxiety.
A positive mind set will beat anxiety
The good news is, I am feeling a lot happier now. I am a lot more stable and I’m loving life!
My learning lesson is to continually be aware of my thoughts because, we are the creators of our destiny and nobody else.
What you think, feel and believe is what you are manifesting. Therefore, it is highly beneficial that you practice remaining in the present moment. Through your senses, you experience the beauty of life, you feel great because you are not caught up in the shadows of your mind. Darkness, grows those negative feelings. Unfortunately, this is where I was choosing to dwell.
Whenever I thought of Heysham, I began reliving my feelings of trauma. My shadows of Heysham were sadly negative, but soon I realised how I had forgotten how alive I used to feel here.
With great joy, this is why I am always drawn back to Heysham!
Don’t be dwelling in the past or catastrophising about your future. It only brings sadness and misery! Enjoy living in the present moment and feeling wonderfully alive!
In the beginning, I was continually looking to blame my anxiety on anything other than looking within. Of course, my thyroid issues didn’t help as one of the side effects of that is anxiety.
One of my major lessons so far is realising how powerful a thought is and how it manifests in your body.
Take for example anxiety and your body being in constant fight or flight. Your body tenses, your breathing may become shallow and your heart races faster. This can lead to dis-ease if not managed. I wasn’t managing mine and I was struggling every day.
Anxiety affecting my health
I honestly believe that my continual dwelling in negative energy affected my health. Smiling makes you feel wonderful and unfortunately, I wasn’t smiling a lot!
A simple smile can trigger the release of neuropeptides that improve your neural communication. It also causes the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood. Think of smiling as a natural antidepressant.Very Well Mind
Practicing mindfulness and meditation
Through the practice of meditation and mindfulness, I began observing my thoughts, and more importantly, feeling a lot better.
With the introduction of moon magic and my understanding of the twelve Universal Laws, I continue growing a positive mindset.
As a practicing Reiki Master and a certified Life Coach, I work on challenging my fears with reason and logic. I learned this from attending Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT. As a consequence of this, I am my authentic self and I’m enjoying the feelings of success, happiness and freedom. Subsequently, I’m growing my therapy business and sharing my wisdom. My clients help me feel joy and happiness, and they help me grow.
One of my other passions is teaching. Therefore, one of my missions is to help anyone struggling like I did. Hence, this is another reason why my photography has taken a bit of a back seat.
Shadows of Heysham is a journey of exploring my mind and my photography. Additionally, it is a method of providing myself with inner healing and joy.
If you are still reading this far, then thank you for taking an interest.
If you want to know more about the above and how I can help you, then please check out my website, Gemstone Healing.
Shadows of Heysham below includes my latest photography with a further insight into my shadow work.
Shadows of Heysham
I often get the urge to visit Heysham Village and after reflection I now realise that it is always when I’m feeling vulnerable.
Visiting this wonderful place of my childhood, allows me to find peace, calm and feelings of tranquility. Fundamentally, do I feel at one with myself here because this is where my roots are?
For many years, I made the mistake of connecting it with the horrific abuse inflicted upon me as a child. In reality, this abuse was only for a period of one to two years. Of course, it was frightening and degrading and undoubtedly, not something that I want to experience again.
Thankfully, I have many memories of enjoying time in the graveyard of St. Peter’s. Feelings of oneness and peace while listening to the birds sing, flood my senses even now as I write this. What strikes me is the fact that I once chose to only remember the trauma!
I feel that my photography is full of shadows as a result of comprehending my journey.
I spent many times not knowing if me and my family are safe from the one who abused us. As a result, I was constantly being told to hide who we are in case the abuser finds us. Unfortunately, I grew up in hiding, feeling anxious. Obviously, this is more than likely why I am drawn to my work with light and shadows. Heysham is where it all started and it is where my love of graveyard photography started.
Funnily enough, I now realise that life comes full circle and I will tell you why through the pictures below. My photography is my continuing journey of inner healing that I find fascinating.
As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Therefore, it serves no purpose bottling your emotions and feelings.
Writing here allows me to express my feelings. So too does my photography. Not expressing your feelings simply allows them to fester and grow. A consequence of this is that they inform your every day decision making.
How many times have you felt miserable because you allowed your fears to stop you from being your authentic self?
Journaling is an excellent method of releasing emotions, so please try it. Shadows of Heysham is one of many personal journals and I hope you are enjoying it.
Let’s tour my Shadows of Heysham
Above is a photograph of St Peter’s Churchyard in Heysham where my ancestors, the Blacow’s are buried. You can read more about my meditation and ancestral roots here.
It is wonderfully quiet and so peaceful within this graveyard. You can become lost in time while listening to the birds singing. You can also spend time taking in the dramatic views of the Lake District. There is so much history contained within this churchyard and it is a very special place for me. I feel safe and fully grounded when I am in Heysham.
A part of my spiritual journey was being prompted to remember a time when I last felt oneness. A feeling of complete peace and safety thus, when remembering it, you FEEL it again!
Heysham, is this place for me and it is the reason I originally took up photography all those years ago.
Unfortunately, I was torn away from here and ended up living in Warrington, which is a good 80 to 90 minutes drive away. If you don’t drive, it feels like miles and miles away.
One day I was provided with the opportunity of returning to Heysham to take some photographs.
I was in my early twenties at the time and I could not wait to return. I had in mind that these photographs would help me feel good, just like I did before it went horribly wrong.
Unfortunately, the pictures were flat and boring making me feel miserable. The feelings of loss and distance were immense. In fact, I had achieved the exact opposite of what I had imagined.
Looking at the photograph below of the railings protecting the graves, hopefully shows you what I mean. It led me to asking: –
How can I capture the feelings of awe and wonderment of who is buried there, and why the protection?
I have a wild imagination and I adore the vampire films of Hammer Horror. My intention was to capture my feelings of mystery and suspense. As a result of this first venture with a camera, my passion for emotive photography began.
Little did I know all those years ago how important this would be for my mental health and well-being.
Life comes full circle among the shadows of Heysham
Feelings of oneness and of peace are what I continually strive for. All I have to do is visualise myself back in the graveyard and experience those feelings. Remembering the feelings of safety and not having a care in the world, is easier when you can remember a time you actually felt it.
My happy place meditation helps me find peace and is also responsible for my profound wisdom that life can come full circle.
Photography and mindfulness
Taking a photograph and studying the fall of shadows to create an emotive image, is a method of being in the present moment. It allows me to practice mindfulness. It allows me to escape the mental chitter chatter that once filled my head constantly.
Being creative will help you manage your anxiety. It most certainly helped me through my darkest days without realising it!
I feel now that everything in my life is turning full circle. I’m living life again and I’m so happy!
Of course I’m only human and I do have small lapses however, I am well aware of when I’m in a negative frame of mind. Being observant and in the present moment helps me to shift my energy back to being positive. What can I see, hear, smell and touch?
Balancing the Shadows of Heysham
I enjoy taking photographs that are mysterious, but intriguing. I find them to be beautiful. You need balance in your life, otherwise you will continue suffering.
This photograph above allows me to understand why I adore imagery that is full of mystery and dark shadows.
Where there is darkness, you will always find light, if you look hard enough.
Where there is death, you will find life, if you look hard enough.
Does the canopy of leaves or the railings give you a feeling of dread or protection?
I can’t wait to get out in nature and I’m constantly looking for the beauty of life. When the sun shines in the morning, it brightens your day. There is beauty all around us if we choose to see it.
Having balance and understanding duality, helps you with your mental stability. Choosing to focus on positive feelings rather than negative feelings is good for you. Challenge your negative feelings with finding the polar opposite. If you are concentrating on looking, you are growing a positive mindset.
I am well aware of toxic positivity and I fully understand that it is natural to expect to feel negative emotions. It is what we do with our mindset that is important but this deserves its own post. Toxic positivity versus a positive mindset.
Consider this question, what is hidden in the shadows?
What is in the shadows?
It is the unknown and when we don’t have answers, we can sometimes, find it frightening and avoidance can kick in.
We can avoid our feelings and emotions, but only for so long as they will resurface like mine did with the anxiety. This is why it is important to live in the present moment and be feeling good. You cannot change your past. Indeed, you can learn and grow from your past events that will affect your future choices therefore, creating a better life.
When avoiding your feelings and burying them deep within, you are blocking the flow of universal energy. You risk losing your feelings of happiness.
Take for example being broken hearted. Recognising your part in the failure and learning lessons for future relationships is a healthy choice to make. Admittedly, this isn’t easy to do, and only with hindsight and profound wisdom do I understand the importance of doing this now.
Concluding my thoughts about shadows of Heysham
I hope that you have enjoyed my insight into my shadows of Heysham.
You may recognise the rock cut graves of Heysham and the wonderful shadows they create. It was featured on a Black Sabbath album cover.
This place holds many fond memories for me and is most certainly a place of stillness when looking out across Morecambe Bay. Thankfully, I still enjoy watching the sun set over the bay from this location. I am lucky that my partner doesn’t mind driving me there. I love feeling the rush of air across my face as the sun disappears below the horizon. Furthermore, the silence as this happens is present as I realise that I am a part of this moment! I am at ONE!
One day my wish will be granted to live amongst the shadows of Heysham.