In August’s 2020 issue of Bird Watching magazine there is a sixteen page pull on why birding can change your life. I’m pleased to have contributed to this and hope it helps to inspire people to get out, into nature for their physical health but just as important their mental health.
For me growing up nature was the most beautiful thing, it was my salvation in many ways from seeing my mum suffering from breast cancer when I was twelve. Sadly after a few years of beating this horrible disease it returned when I was fifteen. That second battle my mum bravely fought was too much and she sadly passed away having fought to the very end.
Before she died I’d been one of her carers alongside the nurses that came to our home. Nature and more so bird watching during these lost years of my childhood as I call them were everything and those troubles and worries went away during that time I spent bird watching. Over the decades that traumatic event followed me through my life without me even knowing.
Then other events I’ve witnessed as a solider, leaving the army and being homeless, struggling to adjust to civilian life and other events I’ve gone through just added to these traumatic events. Being open and vulnerable is being strong I firmly believe. In the case of my own battles with trauma it is through being open about my struggles and talking to those willing to listen that I have found an outlet to express my pain and move forward constructively and successfully.
We are all traumatised by life, some of us from wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life. We are not meant to get through life unscathed. We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred.
Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond and who we become that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the person begins to start to live again.This is what I’ve learnt from the help I’ve received.
Mental health is incredibly important and I’m really glad it’s been spoken about more now. So those suffering know there is help out there once they take that important first step of telling someone.
I did an interview not so long ago with Olly Mann for the Modern Mann series of podcasts about this. It covered alot of what I talk about above and it was to help and inspire people from all backgrounds to embrace nature into their lives and to never give up. Its a very honest and open conversation, and from the feedback I’ve had its helped many people which was my sole aim. Click here to listen.
In 2009 Birdwatching magazine published my very first article as I made my way into the world of professional wildlife photography. The article was written about one of my favourite birds; the Dipper and an area of the Peak District national park I’ve visited to watch these birds since I was twelve. Over the years I’ve contributed to this magazine with many images and articles which has been wonderful as they were the first magazine I ever did anything like this for.
In this latest issue they’ve used many of my images alongside one of my favorite Kingfisher images to illustrate my words. Its of a young female, naturally perched on one of two bulrushes. looking up the river.
Thank you to Matt, the editor and the whole team once more for bringing mental health to your readers and breaking down the stigma still attached to this really important issue. The magazine is out now and available either online or in all good retailers.