Tim's experience of anxiety

Tim shares his experience of anxiety and how photography helps him to manage those feelings.

Hi, I’m Tim. I have PTSD, depression and anxiety, but I don’t let this define me. I use it to empower me.  

I live in Chesterfield with my best friend and my dog. They both really help me with my anxiety as it can be so disabling at times.  

I’ve suffered most of my life down to childhood traumas. Anxiety has taken over at times to the point that I didn’t go out and I made unhealthy choices to help me cope. This made things worse so I changed my lifestyle for the better. I still have days where my anxiety takes over but having healthy coping techniques can really help to distract your mind.  

I sometimes find meeting and speaking to new people triggering. I get palpitations, chest tightening and find it harder to breathe. My mind races with worry and I start thinking of worst case scenarios.  

I’ve found channelling my anxiety into something creative really helps. One thing I’ve really taken to is photography and editing photos to create art. I’m proud to lead a photography and mental health group at our local community hub. Photography has helped me and I hope those who attend benefit too. 


Count one, two, three, four, five 

I often use a counting technique to distract my mind – counting using your thumb and finger tips – count one, two, three, four, five and keep repeating and go as fast as you feel comfortable until it starts to feel calm. This distracts your brain, and can be a great tool in a busy environment, as can stepping away and finding a quiet spot for a moment. 

If you learn about your conditions it can help you understand and enable you process your feelings and emotions. Everyone suffers from anxiety at times – there’s just different levels of this. It’s a natural response to perceive danger. The feelings do pass, if you don’t fight against it but channel it into something positive.  

Channel it into something positive 

I have a disability that affects my mobility. I try not to let this impact upon my passion for photography too much. I’ve found great relief taking photos and photo editing. Looking at the world through a lens can really change your perception of what you see in the world around you. 

I find beauty in things I was oblivious to and see possible photo opportunities all the time. To help cope with my anxiety, I either grab the camera or pull out my phone, switch the camera on and snap away. Focusing on finding images puts me in a zone of calmness. Have a go, I hope it works for you too.   

I think it’s really important to remember to rest and take some time out too. Taking time to relax and recover is so important, you can’t pour from an empty cup! 

Where we feel safe, we grow 

Being with the right people can really help. Where we feel safe, we grow. I’m an advocate of peer support. There are people out there who care and are there to help. I run a photography group to help people with their mental health wellbeing. I use my own lived experience in mental health to help others.  

The community hub I attend has lots of great opportunites to meet people or learn new things. There might be something similar going on where you live. 

Try to remember there are people out there who care and are there to help. 

I think speaking to someone who has a similar experience or feelings, or has worn ‘similar shoes’ can be really powerful. There are experts at different charities and in the NHS you can speak to too.  

The Mental Health Foundation fights for good mental health for all. It’s so important to get behind and support the Foundation so they can continue to break barriers and stigmas around mental health. 

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week at our Community Hub in Chesterfield we hosted an art exhibition, highlighting the benefits of getting creative on mental health and anxiety.  

Art and photography has really benefitted me, I want to share this with others and help as many people as people as possible.  

Hopefully sharing my story will inspire people and give people a new perspective, if my story helps one person, this would mean the world to me. 

Share what you do #ToHelpMyAnxiety

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re asking people to tell us what works for them. Share the things you do to help your anxiety on social media, tagging us in and using the hashtags #ToHelpMyAnxiety and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Mental Health Awareness Week - 15 to 21 May 2023
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