I’ve actually been sat staring at a blank post screen, deciding whether or not this is something I actually know how I’m going to write. Or even how to start. You may have gathered that this intro has an air of procrastination about it! I am however partaking in a nose strip session, so we’re beauty bound already.
Maybe it’s best to just jump straight in. Writing, talking about and photographing beauty products has become quite a meaningful part of my life these past few months. The long and the short of it is that towards the end of 2016 I realised that something wasn’t quite right with me, going from a pretty happy, stable person to someone who had been sucked into the world of anxiety and depression. Now before you read this and think ‘here we go…’ this post is by no means a pity push, but simply a person sharing an experience, and in doing so actually engaging in a therapeutic process, so yes I am writing this for you, but also for me. I’ve learnt in recent months that talking, to someone you wholeheartedly trust and even writing thoughts down can really help to not just necessarily understand, but process associated feeling, emotions and thoughts. For me this outlet has been through regular counselling sessions.
It all started with a couple of mild panic attacks, even though at that moment in time I didn’t realise that this is what those were. Then came a consistant period of time where I was expelled into feelings of hopelessness, despondency and just general disinterest in doing anything. It was an unsettling experience which after a while pushed me into seeking medical advice and taking prescribed medication for depression. Then the next panic attack came. A big one. Bigger than I’d had before and it absolutely scared the shit out of me. Actually experiencing the feelings in my body build up, and try to fight the uncontrollable sense of panic was terrifying. All of this happening whilst driving, in the dark on my own. I phoned my husband and asked him to talk to me (on the hands free!) all the way home, as this was the only way I was going to stay relatively focused on driving and be able get back without stopping at every lay by on the journey home for fear of the dreaded feeling kicking in again. The worst part about the whole experience of these attacks is the sence of having the feeling of absolutely no self-control. My natural instinct was to fight it, which I’ve now learnt can actually make things worse, and the most effective ways to deal with an episode is to let it happen, to come and go like a wave. Easier said than done I might add. That particular week was when I decided to seek professional help and started seeing someone. I have been doing so now on a weekly basis since about March and I cannot stress enough how amazing the experience has been, and still is. The journey of self discovery is certainly an interesting one!
Then there was this. Discovering and joining the beauty community has probably been one of the best things I have ever done. It started out as a distraction from the struggle with what has been one of the hardest times so far during my adult life (and I’m only bloody 29!) and it has turned into something amazing. Amazing because I’ve realised that it’s not quite so scary to put myself out there, I am actually quite good at something and I’m not ging to be criticised at every turn for posting something that I actully think is quite fab even though someone else does not. Many people I know may say that I am a confident person and that no way could I have anxiety or depression, as I don’t look like I do and I’m not curled up in a ball in the corner of the kitchen. But then that’s precisely it. So so many people I know, and even you may know, suffer with some sort of mental illness and you’d never even be aware of it, because all that’s ever seen is a brave face. The face of ‘I’m absolutely fine, totally normal, nothing to see here’. That’s what I call trying to keep my shit together. Because I’m a mother, and a wife, and I have to do things I don’t want to do or go places I don’t want to go because those other people are important too, and why should their lives suffer because I can’t cope. Well that’s how I felt and still do sometimes, but I’m learning to look at things from a different angle. However on the days where I haven’t wanted to go out the house, taking pictures and nattering about my favourite mascara or conditioner has almost put some fire back into my soul. It’s given me something to be proud of, and I’ve learnt so much along the way. For a start I know so much more now about my skin and what it needs to stay clean and healthy. I’ve also learnt a lot about cruelty free beauty and am trying to make conscious choices based upon my new-found knowledge. I’ve also realised how much I’ve fallen in love with photography, and am actually due to start a year-long course next week at the local college which I’m hoping will help me to understand a little more about my camera and how to get the most out of it. Instagram is flooded with so many beautiful images and compositions, and each time I see one I take a little bit of it away with me, and then try to experiment myself. Even if it’s just playing with the lighting by adjusting my blinds or replacing one make up brush with another because the colour will compliment the entire shot a little better. I think my issue at the moment is setting a theme throughout my page, but I get kind of board setting up the same type of composition for every shot. Not very uniform I know, but experimenting is fun. Even if it does mean yoinking my four years old’s box of conkers he’d scooped up from Nanny’s garden an hour beforehand, to sit a pot of Double Cleanse on top of! Hey, it’s Autumn! I look back at my first photos which were taken using the camera on my Samsung Galaxy, and they were good, but I can’t get over how much they’ve changed and how what I’m trying to achieve with my pictures now seems a world away from what I was trying to achieve then, and we’re only talking about a difference of a few months!
Then along came this blog. In comparison to other blog sites I regularly admire, mine is extremely simple. In truth I’m winging it and haven’t got a clue as to what’s where. I even almost had a melt down earlier because I’d lost a saved draft of my September empties post and spent about half an hour Googling how to find and retrieve previous versions. Thank the lord that you can actually do that! In general I find that a blog space is great for those subjects that you want to natter about, but what you have to say is just a bit too long for an Instagram post. Plus It’s introduced me to some fab bloggers who have lots to say and offer.
I think the two key things I’m taking away from this experience is firstly, how absolutely warm-hearted and encouraging my fellow Instagramers and bloggers are. Each and every one of you that I’ve chatted to and have any interaction with have been so ridiculously sweet, kind and uplifting. Not one negative comment has crossed my page so far, and whether that’s luck or not I don’t know, but it just shows that every one of you is here for the same reason I am. To have a bloody good share and conflab about beauty! I’ve even reconnected with someone from high school that I hadn’t spoken to in years, all because of Instagram. The second thing is as to how much my own personal self-confidence has grown. When I started Pretty Polly Beauty on Instagram I didn’t share it with anyone in my personal circle for the first few weeks and a lot of people still don’t know that I do this. I think this is purely because I get so worried about what everyone thinks, and that it’s stupid. That I know nothing whatsoever about beauty or applying make up so why should I have the right to recommend things to other people. Sad but that’s just how my brain works. But over time I’m starting to care less about what other people think and it has become more about doing this for me, not for them. Even now I can’t lie when I get a kick out of seeing my following count jump a little, but then by the same merit I’m not offended when it drops back down again and sits still for a while. And as for Insta Stories, well you would never have seen me videoing myself for all the world to see until about two months ago. Saying that though I still can’t record unless I’m on my todd, mainly because I’m scared that my son will shout ‘Mummy I need a poo!’ in the background. (Insert crying laughing emoji). I’m not self conscious in the way that I care whether or not I’m seen wearing make up, but it’s more that I worry about the feeling of not being good enough, or worthy enough to say what I want to say and not be judged for it. This journey is slowly but surely change that. One baby step at a time.
So there you have it. My condensed ramblings about why I fell in love with beauty and the lens. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not posting this looking for comments of sympathy, in fact I’d rather people didn’t. But it just makes me so happy to have finally found something creative, that I can put my heart and soul into and I genuinely enjoy. I’ve been searching for this for longer than I realised.
As for now that’s all, well done if you’re still here! I’m pretty sure I could go on for twice as long but I don’t want to do that to you.
Lou – Pretty Polly Beauty x
P.S – I have spell checked this, but it’s late so if you come across any mistakes, please don’t judge.