Managing mental health can be exhausting. Having to regulate and check in with myself can be a minute by minute task. I can have weeks where I feel fine then a sight or a sound can send me plummeting and for a brief period and I can be back to where I was at my worst before the process of rationalising my thoughts starts again until the next time it happens.
I feel lucky that with the support of friends and family I have been successful in devising strategies to manage my mental wellbeing and this work is a personal journey through that process.
In order to develop the project I reconnected with people from my past as well as my present, asking them to share their experiences of mental wellbeing. Often feeling alone with my mental health, the intention was to open the conversation with other men in the community about the subject.
Recording conversations using my iPhone I simply asked participants to share their experiences on their own terms.
Outside the making of a photograph, my job was to listen and share my own experience if asked. Within the process I listened to a number of harrowing stories which were sometimes upsetting. I also learned that success is often born out of a number of failures, the key being tenacity and self awareness.
Communicated through a collective voice rooted in the communities of Stockport and South Manchester, the men spoke of their experiences and chose to collaborate in a piece of activism against the stigma of poor mental health.
The bravery I witnessed was both enlightening and inspiring.