Warning: mushy, emotion-filled stuff to follow.
When my first serious relationship ended I didn’t cope very well. I think most people have a story like this. I found it hard to sleep, I rarely ate, I moped and stared out into nothingness and cried that gross kind of cry where all the snot gets your nose stuffy and there’s just goo all over your face and tissues don’t really seem to help.
I’m sure while this was going on I was terrible to live with. I was a real Debbie Downer. At the time though, I was quite unaware of most things because I was deeply buried in my own thoughts and feelings. This intense self-reflection started to really eat away at me. Too much time spent in your own mind can be unhelpful to say the least. And continuing to travel through life with your eyes closed in grief, your lungs restricted by sobbing and your tummy empty from a gut-wrenching fear of the future… well, I try not to think too much about where I would have headed.
This all sounds overly dramatic but to me at the time things seemed insurmountable and my motivation to get up every day was beginning to wane. That is until I started my photo journal.
I decided at some point that enough was enough. I needed something to give me a good shake. I remember thinking how I might be able to wake myself up from the break-up haze. My conclusion: take a photo of myself every day and write a reflection to go with it. Part of me wanted to document the pain and part of me wanted to dig myself out of it. And, for me, doing a project like this meant the difference between barely surviving and really thriving.
This first photo journal lasted 77 days. I didn’t have a goal in mind for how long I’d keep going and that was a good thing. Goals can be helpful but sometimes they can also put more pressure on when you don’t need it.
Later, I started another photo journal that I hoped to keep for 365 days. I was inspired by a Project 365 photo-sharing group. This time it was more light-hearted and I lasted 137 days. Pretty respectable if you ask me!
Photos capture so much. I found that if I took the time to grab a photo at some point in the day it would jog my memory later that night when I wanted to write about the day or my thinking behind the photo. I also found a simple structure (photo, bible verse, thought) helped the first time around when my brain felt like mush. Although, I was kind to myself if I just needed to ‘wing it’ some days.
I would really recommend photo journaling as something to try. Whether it be for creativity, motivation, documentation or processing. It’s a great alternative to a written journal and one that will continue to teach you every time you wince through a revisit. Gotta love that weird place called Memory Lane!