The real reason I unfollowed you / by Belle Verdiglione

 10/10 is World Mental Health Day

I have taken this day to reflect on my own mental 'healthiness' and see what has been going on for me lately. I have pondered on the challenges that I experience being a photographer and in particular the struggles of social media in this context. Anyone who knows me understands that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand it has let me connect and engage with a massive audience and collaborate, learn, network, grow and be inspired by other creatives and photographers. It has the potential to influence a wide range of people in a very short amount of time. I have seen this firsthand with photos of mine that are currently going viral at the moment. On the other hand, well, I think it can be destructive. So in my reflection and in support of 10/1o, I have decided to share a little bit more of myself...

"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt

Let me start by saying, (today) I feel better. I feel stronger and I want to share with you a part of me that not many people get to meet.

And it's the real reason I unfollowed you.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I unfollowed you. I love you, I really do and I admire and respect you as an artist. It's just sometimes I get overwhelmed. I find it hard to breathe. My mind races a million miles an hour and I can't concentrate on any one task. Horrible, dark thoughts wash over me and the part of me that I try so hard to hide comes creeping forward. It might stay for a short time, sometimes longer but when it's there it speaks dirty to me in whispers that repeat over and over and over again in my head;

"you're not good enough"

"no one likes you or your work" 

"you'll never be able to run a successful business"

"just quit".

I'm a positive person. I'm bubbly and I love to giggle. Being around my friends and my family makes me so very happy. But when THAT part of me comes out, I want to curl up in the darkness and dissolve away. Because those whispers are relentless. They come when I least expect them to and get louder and louder until my head feels like it's going to break or that I am going to break.

I love you and I love your work. I admire your artistry and respect your business. But sometimes it's just too much for me and in order for me to silence the noise, I unfollow you so I don't have to see your pretty pictures - so I don't have to compare myself to you. Because you will always win. The darkness has a way of making sure of that.

And so you see a part of me that I want you to see. I talk about how amazing it is to be published or to win awards or to be part of the wonderful Perth photography community. You probably think I'm confident and established and I have a list of incredible achievements. Well, what I don't show you is the part of me that struggles with moving forward. How that one social media post I put up two nights ago, took me an hour to post because I couldn't bear the thought of it not being good enough or liked enough or commented on enough. 

I know that as creatives it's a little trickier to navigate. I think that photographers especially are emotional creatures. When you put your heart and soul into your work, you need it to be magical. You also want others to think your work is magical too. I wish I was as confident as you think I am and sometimes, I am. But if I am struggling and there are days where I do, I may need to unfollow you again. 

With love and warmth, Belle x

If you or anyone you know is dealing with anxiety or depression please reach out to friends, loved ones or support services such as Beyond Blue Support Service
1300 22 4636

Photo by the amazing Ashlee Wells for  4th Trimester Bodies Project

Photo by the amazing Ashlee Wells for 4th Trimester Bodies Project