Self-Healing Through Pursuing Passions

Writing and photographs by Imogen Woods

I constantly seek things to make me happy, whether that be people, experiences, various substances, but I have learned until you find the way to that happiness in yourself, you’re fighting a losing battle. Our whole lives are based on the pursuit of happiness, but the way in which we seek to achieve happiness is often not the most productive way. The quick fix, the “easy” ways. Most of us (physically) have the capability to snort a line of MDMA and feel a rush of serotonin for a couple of hours; feel the state of euphoria and the warm glow in our veins, but then you come down, and there’s the intense sadness, the achey jaw, headaches, and insomnia that lasts for a few days. And while not everyone’s quick fix is snorting drugs, there’s procrastinating on Netflix, when you should be revising, which would in turn help you achieve good grades, leading you to better prospects, getting the job you want– but you’re favouring the short term fix. Or perhaps you avoid doing exercise, when knowing in the long run exercise increases mental and physical health.

But there is a way to find balance between activities that feed both long term and short term needs. Things that fill you with happiness while you’re doing them, but also increase happiness long term. These activities are passions.

For the past year I have suffered depression from one degree to another. Mild to severe. From a dull buzz in the back of my skull to a gut wrenching, jaw aching cloud of sadness engulfing me. So I decided to record my depression in photography, a passion I have had for years, but in my depression neglected due to lethargy and laziness. I picked up my camera and took a photo once a day and it changed my life.

Photography takes you away from your thought spirals and lets you live in the moment. That click of the shutter, that twenty-fifth of a second is making an announcement. This is beautiful. Perhaps not conventionally beautiful, but the statement’s there. Something in the world is worth looking at, experiencing, appreciating. Letting the camera become another limb on my body makes me see the world differently. The way the breeze cascades across that field, the raindrops trickling down the windscreen, that smile from that girl on the train. You constantly see beauty. It increases mindfulness, a practice that allows you to live in the moment.

I then took it further; I took self portraits and learnt about the beauty in myself. I’d photograph myself with my make-up done up, or myself in my best clothes. Or bathe myself in the light from a window and compose myself into an interesting position. Experiment with angles and techniques, poses and props.  Each photo I take of myself is a photo closer to loving myself, learning something new about myself. I’d have a fat day and force myself to take photos of my stomach and acknowledge my stretch marks, but see them in a new way, in different lighting.

Photography is a method of acknowledging, even recording, my feelings and then letting them go. It reiterated that everything is temporary, that the one moment that the shutter clicked will never be here again and that’s ok. Life is moving forward; life is going on.

So the next time you see something beautiful, take a photograph, acknowledge it’s beauty and make the statement that the world is worth appreciating.


Imogen Woods

Imogen Woods is a 21-year-old photographer from Brighton in the UK. In her spare time she likes to dance to Beyonce in her underwear and goes on feminist rants. She runs a blog on mental illness, body positivity and feminism here. Take a look at her Flickr as well.

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