I'm very excited to officially launch my first (but not my last) book 'Wildlife Photography: saving my life one frame at a time'. This is a unique book that sets out to explore the power of photography to help people achieve better physical and mental wellbeing. A mix of autobiography, photography techniques, tips on mindfulness, holism and improving health, along with stunning full colour images of the wildlife I've taken over the last few roller-coaster years; this is a book I've been longing to write for some time.
The book launched on World Suicide Prevention Day - September 10th 2019. Those of you who know me will be aware of some of my journey since 2010 when PTSD came to visit me and never bothered to leave. Photography became my therapy and I credit it, along with help from some special people, with keeping me alive when all I wanted to do at the time was kill myself. Eleven years on, and although I'm forever changed, I'm still here and enjoying most of my life despite the different direction it's taken. I hope that's reflected in my book which has been a labour of love not only to create, but in the time spent in empty, peaceful spaces waiting for some amazing wildlife to turn up - or not as was often the case. There will be a series of publicity appearances prior to the book launch which is a bit daunting as I don't do people that well these days. However, I know it has to be done as I want the maximum coverage for the book I can get - not for my own ego, or to make my fortune (although enough for a Harley would be nice) - no, more for the fact I want my message there is hope after something like this happens to you to be out there. More than anything I'd really like this book to give confidence to people who feel hope has abandoned them, and if I only save one life like mine was saved then I'll be a happy man.
I'm always conscious that not everyone either wants nor is able to talk so openly about their mental health as I now do, and that's okay, it really is. I learnt the hard way however that keeping my 'stuff' to myself, much as it made sense in the early days of denial, was slowly but surely going to kill me, so I made the decision to get the monkey off my back in whatever ways were healthy and possible. I accept we are all at different points on our journey, and each of us has unique ways of dealing with 'stuff', but my biggest wish is you read my book and either my words or images reach you, and you get something positive from it, something that moves you a little bit closer to sustainable wellbeing.
Just a few links to some of the many excellent mental health resources in the UK. If you or a loved one is suffering please contact someone as it really can make a difference - it did for me. I've added Childline as it's crucial young people get the chance to talk openly about their mental health to someone who won't judge or stigmatise them.