Social media breaks during lockdown

Lockdown, a time when social media feels imperative to keep in touch with people outside of your household because lets face it, no matter how well you get along with the people you live with, its exhausting not being able to interact with other people. Its a time to call friends and family, play online games, Skype, whatever you do to keep in touch, which is currently my only use of the internet (other than writing this and watching copious amounts of Netflix). Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have been deleted for a few days now for the second time in 2 weeks because I could feel them causing my already high anxiety and depression to hit record levels. Why? It’s mostly down to loneliness. I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of my house in over a month (other than regular calls to my best friend and a Skype call with another friend, which was bizarre as we never video call). Its tough seeing everyone content with who they’re spending lockdown time with, not to say I want everyone to feel as isolated as myself, but its just tough to see and is a constant reminder that after 2 weeks of good luck and excitement prior to lockdown, Im now back to square one and feeling deflated, unmotivated and pessimistic about the future.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the weeks running up to lockdown, I finally got a photography job in a studio and was excited to finally feeling like I amounted to something and my degree was worth it. This was after around 9 months of working in a sector that I hated and was desperately trying to get out. Now I know the job will still be there for me when all this is over, but the end seems far off and being so close to pursuing something that I enjoy, just to have it taken away over night was a huge blow to my mental health. It also probably doesn’t help that the longer I’m waiting to start this job, the more I am doubting my ability to be able to do it well (even though I know I’m great at what I do, I wish my brain would stop being unkind). I then spent the first 3 weeks of lockdown battling to get paid by my current employers, which has just added to the exhaustion and bad mental state.

Anyway, that’s the background information on why my mental health is in absolute shambles, back to social media breaks. They’re not something I usually do, or at least not usually for extended amounts of time. My online presence is important to me, to show my work and make a name of myself, however my mental health needs to start coming first, especially in tough times. Usually my social media detox’s only consist of twitter and facebook because they can be the most draining. Theres an awful lot of information on there, its the place I come across the most transphobia, homophobia and harmful political views. Its also where I feel most inadequate and undervalued, so its a place I actively avoid if I’m feeling bad. Instagram however, is mostly harmless, but even that is taking its toll through lockdown. I am stuck in a rut, which is affecting my productivity and creativity, meaning I have nothing to share to make me feel as if I’m not complete garbage and to feel validated and loved for even 0.5 seconds (which I know, first world problems am I right?), so seeing everyone having the times of their lives, being productive and comparing myself to them is exhausting. A simple solution of course is to stop comparing myself to others, which is something I’m working on, but in order to do that, you have to take away the people you are comparing yourself to do.

I thought having no social media would mean I would be bored and sat staring at walls, which don’t get my wrong, I have been. But, I have also painted, started reading a book (the last book I read was too many years ago), relearning piano and learning not to put pressure on myself to always perform. I have also been watching more new movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have watched, since Im always exhausted, mentally and physically and so just rewatch the same stuff because I don’t need to pay attention. Its also been weirdly nice to not feel like I have to be on my phone all the time and responding to people as soon as they message me. It’s just nice to be able to breathe and take a break without feeling guilty. Of course I’m not saying, delete social media and feel better, nor am I saying that people shouldn’t be sharing the good times that they’re having right now, its your life, do what you want, but for me trying to eliminate everything making me sad has been a weird success.

Also, as of a yesterday, I have finally had a creative spark, which I otherwise don’t think I would’ve had if I was still wallowing in self pity and blankly scrolling through my phone (or maybe I would’ve, who knows!) but exciting post-lockdown stuff could be coming soon and I’m finally feeling positive.

Thanks for reading this little update, I hope everyones staying safe.

Alex

Life update

Its been a little while since I last updated everyone who bothers to read this, so I figured better late than never, right?

I’ve been trying to write this for roughly 2 weeks and it will more than likely take me hours, if not a couple of days to write the update and I’ll explain why in a moment, but first, as some of you may know, I had surgery last December and I had my last post-op check up on the 2nd of October. I’m recovering well and have finally been discharged. The week after (8th) I had a pre-op appointment to get a hysterectomy and I will be going into surgery again this December. I must really have a thing for timing surgeries for around Christmas. So that is one of my biggest pieces of news.  Now, back why it will definitely take me way too long to write this- I’ve finally come off my anti-depressants. For anyone who might not know, I was on Sertraline for a year due to many different factors in my life and whilst it helped me massively over a little bump, I felt it was time to stop depending on them (although theres nothing wrong with that!). So, starting in August, I began weaning myself off (I got my gps permission- anyone considering coming off meds, ALWAYS get a professionals permission). 6 days ago, I finally ran out of tablets (yay!), but now I am having very bad withdrawal symptoms, which are leaving me exhausted and struggling, hence why it might take me absolutely ages to write a quick update.

Anyways, that’s pretty much everything thats been going on with my lately, other than my ongoing visa quest which is at a standstill and is beginning to infuriate me, but theres not an awful lot I can do other than joke about it- if I don’t laugh I will cry.

Near future quests include going to London to see my friend, visit the British library, Tate gallery (last time I visited the Tate I was exhausted and hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, so honestly I don’t even remember what I saw), hopefully get in a few photoshoots- if I don’t manage to get portraits, I am definitely going to be visiting Canary Wharf at night and photograph the hell out of it; and go to yet another protest.

Another future quest is my ongoing struggle to get a job that I don’t completely hate. PLEASE someone remind me when I do finally move, that I never want another job in hospitality, its slowly draining the ever loving life out of me.

Honestly not a lot more is going on, I’m living a very slow, boring, yet oddly exhausting (yay depression!!) life.

As predicted, this took me 3 days to write.

Feel free to subscribe to my site if you want reminders for my mundane updates to make yourself feel better about what you’ve accomplished! (We all love reading about someone else self loathing, right??)

I PROMISE there will be a new post next week about my trip to London because honestly a trip to London is the most exciting thing to a Northern boy.

  • Alex

A new kind of professional.

How do you define professional? Is it someone with no tattoos and piercings, someone with no public personality and someone who always keeps up a perfect persona? If it is, get with the times!

Honestly, I don’t even think there is such thing as a “professional” anymore, just people, who due to capitalism, are more well-known than others. For example (lets stick with something I know and say creators), now, creators fall into many categories and sub categories, such as “famous”, “Professional”, “amateur”, “beginner” etc, but in reality, the “famous” people are just those with large followings and may in fact be less “professional” than those who fall into the professional category. Okay my heads beginning to spin with all this!

Essentially where I’m trying to get to with this, is that many people will tell you that sharing your thoughts and feelings, ups and downs on social media is deemed unprofessional. This may have been true many years ago, but now, in the age of technology, it is often a way to connect with your larger audience. People don’t want to follow people who are closed off, seemingly “perfect” as this isn’t a true representation of anyone on the planet. No one only has highs and whilst its seemingly an influencers talent to only show the pool parties, holidays and luxury foods, this, as pointed out by many articles, is just not real-life. However, I also do not think that we should shame these people for only showing their highs, just as we shouldn’t shame people for showing their highs and lows.

For me, and many other people, posting our struggles help combat the dark times we are going through. I personally, don’t tend to do it as often as I did, purely because my mind is in a much better place, however, if I was to mentally struggle again I would not want to be deemed “unprofessional” and “unemployable” for this. Many people praise mental health advocates for says x, y and z about mental health, the congratulate magazines for writing an article romanticising depression, but when someone who may be in the public eye shows the ugly sides of these mental illnesses, they are automatically deemed as unprofessionalism. From what I can gather, this is often because people never want to actually admit that these things happen to people, but on the flip side, there are people who are genuinely grateful that people share these experiences because it makes them feel less alone.

Lets use my own experiences for example, being a transgender male, I have struggled with many aspects of my identity, coming to terms with the fact I wasn’t cis and having very extreme lows due to dysphoria. I have documented this process throughout to where I am today, not for “attention”, but to hopefully make at least one person feel less alone in what they are experiencing and to normalise the feelings that trans people experience throughout their transition. Now, in the past, this could have been seen as unprofessional as sometimes, the experience isn’t happy and has been a source of great depression, sharing this would have been frowned upon. However, in 2019, this is helpful and the age of the internet is turning into a generation who can share their experiences, without fear that they are going to be viewed differently.

This is a shift from the last “unprofessional” debate that happened (and is still ongoing), of tattoos and piercings. As lots of people rightly think nowadays, “How on earth do tattoos and piercings mean that you cannot fulfil your job correctly”, there are still the odd person from previous generations of people who see them as strictly “unprofessional” and not suitable for work places. Thankfully, many places are becoming accustomed to allowing workers to have tattoos, piercing and dyed hair. So, when will people stop seeing mental health as an unprofessional trait to have- when in reality, it is not something that we choose. Why is talking about our own mental health experiences seen as unprofessional?

I’ll leave you here with one last thought: How is someone tweeting “Today I really want to die” seen as unprofessional, yet the President of the USA tweeting childish statements such as; “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!” and “Dopey @Lord_Sugar I’m worth $8 billion and you’re worth peanuts…without my show nobody would even know who you are.” You would almost think as president, he would have some kind of standard to uphold, but apparently not. (I have chosen slightly less offensive tweets) And I mean do I even need to say it? Talking publicly about grabbing woman by the p*ssy is DEFINITELY unprofessional and for ever will be.

I’ll definitely stick to reading people live tweet their depressive episodes (and of course reach out) and tweet my own depressive episodes, than read/tweet completely absurd, offensive, childish drivel.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Alex

*it was a long one this time oops, full rant mode got me*

Revisiting my photographic roots

When I began university in 2016, finding out I was able to process and hand print colour negatives was beyond exciting. I had spent 2 years prior processing my own black and white negatives and printing them and only dreamed of being able to do colour- it was suddenly becoming a reality.

I had a camera that hadn’t been used since I was 12 that still had a roll of colour film in it. It had taken years of wondering what I might find on the film for me to FINALLY buy new batteries for it and find out. Unfortunately there was none- I was hoping for old memories to resurface, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Getting the camera working again made me think about creating new memories using the methods I used as a child, with the equipment that was available to me as a child. So I reloaded some film and visited my favourite place in the North East of England- the beach!

Ever since I watched Submarine, a few years ago, I fell utterly in love with the aesthetic and nostalgia of the movie and instantly I could see how these photos had a very similar feeling.

Revisiting the camera that I used as a child to take photos of my dog, school residential trips and family felt so refreshing. It is always refreshing to have a project that isn’t stressful and to a strict deadline, aesthetic and theme. I’ve been realising recently, self-care projects are so important. Yes, I love everything I create, but going back to create something that doesn’t matter if it goes wrong and it doesn’t matter if its ever shown to the world, is so personal and so lovely.

So as a note to anyone reading this- Do a self-care project, right now, you’ll feel amazing inspired afterwards!

Find this full project HERE

Thanks for reading!

Alex Costin