Tag Archives: life moments

me, my mental health & i.

With it being mental health awareness month I contemplated openly discussing my love hate relationship with my own mental health and share my stories and tips on how to deal with it if you’re struggling. 

So buckle up buttercup. This is a judgement free zone and may come as a shock to some.

I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD at a very very young age. Like, started seeing a counselor at like age 11 and saw one until I was about 16/17. Let me be hopefully not the first to tell you that seeing a counselor does NOT make you weak. You are just working through your shit and sometimes it helps having a paid professional who has no personal ties to you to talk to.

Without going into the heavy details my childhood compared to most was a little rocky. Overall it shaped me into the person I am today so I can’t pity myself for it. Shit happens. As my grandma likes to say “you were the one who had a bad situation and instead of dwelling on it you used it to better yourself”, cue water works right before my college graduation.

I learned at a very young age how to cope with my thoughts and how to process things in a different way when something bad happens or just thoughts in general. At age 25, sometimes I still struggle with how to handle things in a healthy way. Guess what though? That’s okay. There is no age limit.

I did my time trying out different medications. It’s not for me. I know some people who swear by it and love it but for me personally it left me foggy and sometimes made the awful things running through my head much much worse. Sadly, it also is like a trial and error when it comes to medication because not all works for everyone the same. Plus the withdrawals…oh my gosh the withdrawals can be a bitch. I’ve heard weed helps for some people as well. That’s a negative ghost rider for me as well. When I was younger whenever I did smoke I’d have anxiety attacks. I did not like not being in control. I never have and most likely never will.

Ways I have combated my own head:

  1. This website for starters. I found an outlet to get things out in hopes of not just helping myself and having something to look back on and reflect but also possibly help others if needed. Writing is therapeutic 100%.
  2. I’ve taken personal days where I will just go somewhere and just walk around and be with myself and just as corny as it sounds…be alive. The most recent one was Earth Day in April. April is a hard month for me given Bri’s death anniversary and her birthday. I went to Middleton Place Plantation and walked for hours. I sat by ponds and just was “there”. I don’t know how else to describe it but it helps. 
  3. I cut back on my drinking. I would go on binges where it would be days of just drinking. If I couldn’t sleep I’d have a drink. If I was stressed, I’d have a drink. I’ll still go out or have wine occasionally but I had to have a sit down with myself a couple times when life got tough and be like “Hunter….don’t use that as a crutch.”
  4. Art. Pick your poison. Be it photography or painting etc. 
  5. Video games help with frustration and concentration. Your mind goes from concentrating on the vile things in your head to blowing up stuff on your TV or computer.
  6. Music. When I am feeling down driving and blasting music has been my go to for years. Again, I think it is due to you have to concentrate on driving so it takes your mind off the negative. Blasting your favorite songs and just dancing it out is so therapeutic as well.  

One topic I wanted to talk more about is post traumatic stress disorder. Guess what…it’s not only a war thing. When I was younger I had a pretty mild case of it due to some situations that I couldn’t process and over time the thoughts went away. A lot of therapy helped. About two months ago I was diagnosed again with PTSD only this time it was a lot…heavier than I expected. The ironic thing was I made jokes like “I bet that shit gave me PTSD”….welp.

The thing with PTSD that I’ve learned recently is that your triggers don’t have to be a direct link to the thing that caused it. As my lovely counselor says it can be literally a feeling and then BAM there you are. Another scary thing, one second you can be fine and another you can have an extremely visual nightmare or I call them “daymares” (because you can be wide awake) and boy can it mess with your head. They can be flashbacks to the event itself or just horrible visuals. I remember back in October/November I kept having daymares for like a week straight. I could be sitting in my office at work or shooting a concert and randomly I would picture someone close to me dying right in front of me. Different ways sometimes but overall it was the same result. Then the uncontrollable urge to start crying happens. Imagine being in a public as fuck place and randomly start to cry. lol I laugh because I just remember myself working the Allen Stone show and standing on the stairs taking photos and realizing I was crying. There was ZERO reason for me to be sad at that moment.

That’s PTSD. It’s like a hidden bomb within your head and one second you are fine and the other it’s like “time to cry bitch” or “Oh, life is going perfect and you’re happy? Here is a nightmare of this person blowing their brains out at your front door one night and another night let’s have them OD.”

I warned you to buckle up.

The mind plays games with you. Sometimes (for me personally) the visuals can mess you up so horribly that for a day or so you really have to question “did that happen or did I imagine it?”

I’m not a professional but even anxiety and stress has caused nightmares. There have been a few that shook me to my core. One being that (and if you know me personally like my mother who reads these don’t call me freaking out hahaha I’m good.) about four years ago I had a dream that it was me standing in our doorway of my bedroom. Crying and borderline psychotic laughing I guess and just outright blew my brains right out. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and in a cold sweat. No reason to have it, but after a few days I realized it was due to stress.

It was like a visual representation of me losing my shit and mind.

This brings me to my second topic, anxiety. Over the last few years I’ve noticed many people now have “anxiety”. I don’t know when the entire planet (exaggeration) became so anxious but if you do have it I feel your pain. It’s crippling. It really is some days. Some days I wake up and have to physically make myself get up and go about my day. It makes relationships hard as well. Some days I’m happy as can be and then other’s I can fall off the planet like no one matters to me and just be a hermit. When my anxiety is bad I’ll either forget to eat or eat everything. There have been days where it will be like 10 at night and it dawns on me that I hadn’t eaten a single thing all day.

For me personally, not speaking for everyone, it can also make you question the people around you. For instance I am sometimes in a battle with thinking “do my friends even like me?” and I’m talking friends I’ve had for YEARS. Friends that if they didn’t like me they have a really funny way of showing it haha. Then, ya know relationships. I remember a few years back when I had started taking prozac and needless to say…it did not agree with me. My boyfriend at the time was working out of town and I was withdrawing because I just did not like how it made me feel and just not having a fun time with it (haha). At first he thought I was over exaggerating and then one night I vaguely remember going on a rant about being a burden. My head went to a dark spot and he realized I was not exaggerating after all and was really struggling with the coming off the medication and his mom came and checked on me because he was so worried I wasn’t okay. For the record, I wasn’t “okay” but I was “okay”. If that makes sense. After my attempt at 16 and seeing it’s toll on my family and then seeing and feeling the affects of my best friend dying….don’t worry. My ass isn’t going any where. For anyone reading this who may need to hear it… NOTHING AND NO ONE IS WORTH LEAVING THIS WORLD. There is always a light at the end of that tunnel and please for the love of whatever…remember that. There is always a sunrise. Every morning. Without fail. Make sure you see that.

But it’s moments like that…being with someone who sometimes doesn’t always love themselves is a struggle. For a while I hid my anxiety from guys I talked to or dated. I was embarrassed and also thought they’d be like “oh this bitch crazy” haha It takes a special person to handle it. Friends or partners.

There is a Halsey song that I feel like if you have any form of mental “disorders” or what ever you may relate to. Her lyrics “I’m well acquainted with villains that live in my head. They beg me to write them so they’ll never die when I’m dead. And I’ve grown familiar with villains that live in my head. They beg me to write them so I’ll never die when I’m dead.” hit home. Because if you have EVER had an anxiety or a panic attack you’ll know when I say…they’re fucking terrifying. Once you have one though you fucking remember the warning signs. One thing that I started doing was when I started to feel anxious or like an attack was coming along I would count with one hand to 4 over and over. Like thumb to pinkie, to ring finger, middle and pointer. 1, 2, 3, 4 until I could feel myself catch my breath. Now sometimes sadly that plan fails haha then your whole body (or for me my back and shoulders) tense up and you (well me) do this nervous tick of like rolling your shoulders. As a way to shake it off basically. I’ve drawn blood on my palms from my grip during an anxiety attack.

*claps hands together* “And that kids is anxiety as told by Hunter.”

As I am writing this I can feel the anxiety build. Because I’m a very open person for the most part. I used to not be and then I got to the point where I’m like “I kind of just don’t give a fuck what people think at this point I can’t change it.” I’ve openly discussed my suicide attempt at 16 (which if ya didn’t know…ha well), my best friend’s death and it’s toll on me, my personal struggles with feeling good about myself and battling your own self destruction to not push yourself further. There are some topics however I am still terrified to open up about. I have them saved in drafts and will I publish them one day? I don’t know. Should I? Maybe if I think it would help someone.

My own mental health…falls into that category. Why though? Because even though we are slowly becoming more and more open to talking about mental health…there is that fear of judgement. There are so many platforms that have the #itsokaytonotbeokay or something along those lines but not everyone shares their stories.

Share your stories. Share your struggles. Don’t be ashamed of your demons. Blow them up so that they don’t scare you anymore. Like (total nerd mode) Boggarts in Harry Potter. Don’t let fear take over. Yell Riddikulus and turn that shit into Snape wearing lady’s clothes.

That’s all I’ve got today. More than I expected but ya know what…if it helps someone then great. Fellow writers…isn’t this a bitch? You feel this urge to share personal stories.

Much love as always,

H

If anyone reading this is struggling and needs an outlet. 

email: hunter@lifessidebar.com

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

 

 

Norma.

I remember the day I found Norma. I felt around a few times and was thinking “what the fuck is this?!” It was in the fall of 2016 and I can’t even remember why I felt my right breast at that moment but you talk about a moment of panic.

I then ignored it for a bit. Thinking it was just a fluke of some kind but occasionally feeling a sharp pain randomly almost like an alarm clock saying “hey…..hunter….go to the doctor.” Finally in March of 2017 when I had my yearly I mentioned it to my doctor. He told me to lower my caffeine intake and that it could be like a cyst or something and that “some women just have lumpy breasts” and also said that sometimes they move around or get bigger and then go back down.

Well….I lowered my caffeine and checked it EVERY DAY. No change. Not even a little. It did not move around. It was stuck in the same spot inside my boob like some chained prisoner. April I went back and spoke about my concerns and he brushed it off again and said that we just switched up my birth control from hormones to no hormones (ladies…I know IUD’s are scary but switching to the non-hormonal IUD was the best choice I’ve ever made! Anyways..) At this point I was becoming very angry and scared. I asked my family if we had any people in our family who had breast cancer. Nope. So then I was looking up the odds I had it. In May, I went to my family doctor who I’ve had since I was like 12. Explained what was going on and had him feel what I was referring to. The look of slight anger on my doctor’s face when I told him how my “lady doc” had responded to me when I told him was priceless. He immediately said he was scheduling a mammogram or at least an ultrasound.

The earliest appointment was June.

June 20th, I met my “boob mate” Norma. Have you ever seen Bates Motel? You know the mom…Norma? That sneaky bitch? Yeah that’s where Norma got her name from.

Meet Norma.

Norma, she was about an inch and a half here and I think almost an inch or so wide at this point.

During the visit and after two doctors looked at this mass in my boob they asked to do a biopsy. I remember just sitting on that doctor’s bed thing and calling my at the time boss and telling her that my quick doctor visit on my lunch break was going longer than I expected and then just breaking down crying. She asked if I was okay and asked if I wanted anyone to come be with me and I just said no. She gave me the rest of the off because I was about to be poked with a big ass needle and probably wasn’t going to be feeling so hot after.

If you’ve never had a biopsy done this is how it goes. They numb up the area (or at least for me they did) and then they take this big ass needle thing that looks like it has a trigger on the other side and some how it takes parts of whatever they are needing to biopsy. You know those heavy duty staplers? Think of that sound. You feel pressure and hear it but I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t watch them do it but I watched through the ultrasound. After they’re done taking some samples they leave like a clip (I don’t know the technical term sorry haha) so that if you ever have an X-ray or ultra sound etc they will be able to see that you’ve had a biopsy before.

On my Instagram I used to record myself doing “car chats” and I filmed this..posted it…and then took it down because I was terrified. I’m more open now about it but at the time I was freaking out.

The next 48 hours were hell. My boob looked like I had been brutally attacked or had some flesh eating disease (deep purple and green bruises) and when I finally got the call they said it was a fibroadenoma. Basically a non cancerous tumor that happens in younger women. They told me I would be fine but if at any point it caused me discomfort to get it removed given it’s size. They said that it may become an issue when I decided to have children because of breast feeding etc etc but I had to come back every 6 months for follow up appointments.

Cool right? Just what every 23 year old wants to hear.

Fast forward to December. Norma was a bitch. I would randomly have these shooting pains that the only thing that would help would be to just hold it. Legit hold my fucking boob until the pain passed. I got my letter around Christmas reminding me that I needed to go for my follow up appointment. Let me also add…I noticed Norma grew. Hence why I was having more pain because she was on the move. I still refused to go to the doctor. I was in denial and just felt that I was better not knowing.

My bosses said otherwise. They talked me into going and finally in February I went and had a follow up appointment.

I was right she had grown. She had gone from about 1 1/2 inches to almost 2 inches long. They said that fibroadenomas didn’t always grow that fast and were concerned it was a phyllodes tumor which in fact some CAN be cancerous. They then recommended instead of waiting to go ahead and meet with a breast surgeon.

After my appointment I posted this photo on my feed. In case you don’t feel like clicking that link it was:

“There’s days that I wish I would have just stayed in bed and ignored the reality of things. Then another part of me knows that’s not the answer and that you have to stay positive and strong. Even when you’re needing to cry in the parking lot of a hospital. Norma (my breast tumor), has gotten bigger. I had my follow up check in on it and got the lovely update. The doctor thinks it may be a different type of tumor but without another biopsy we won’t know for certain. Basically, they’re saying it needs to come out sooner than later just in case. As I sit in my car typing this I know many don’t care to know my business. Which is totally fine. This is more for me. To look back on a year and beyond from now and remember how small I feel but how I also know that I have to be bigger than this whatever it is and I can’t let it get the best of me. The sun rose as I went over the bridge this morning as pictured above and it should be a sign that things are going to be okay. ❤️ Right now however I just want a stiff drink and it’s not even noon….”

f3524f43-dacc-407c-98bf-2d2051cbe7e4I was so angry. So so angry. I sat in my car for over 30 minutes just crying. I don’t have the exact measurements from that day but I remember seeing Norma on the ultrasound and seeing how even the shape had changed. A couple weeks later I met with my surgeon and when she measured it again…it grew more. By the end of it or at least the last time they measured it and told me the measurements Norma was about 1.7 inches long and 0.78 inches wide and about the same thick. She was like a mini brick just chilling in my boob causing me pain.

March 27th 2018, Norma was evicted. The last thing I remember was them putting something in my IV and then two seconds later it seemed I was out cold. I woke up facing a wall in post-op and starting to freak out. I had no idea where I was, I was in pain and just alone. The nurse came over and the first fucking question I asked was “Where is Norma?” She had no fucking idea what this drugged up girl was talking about. But I repeated myself and then also said “I want to take her home I made her” hahaha I didn’t get to see her. I did look up youtube videos prior to my surgery though so I have a good idea as to how she looked.

2018-10-21 11:06:11.976

The following couple weeks and month’s were a..struggle. I couldn’t find the videos of before surgery but I was very angry for a while there. Here I was 23 and having body altering surgery and as a young woman…as vain as it sounds I was pissed that I wasn’t going to look like myself anymore. There is a size difference now. I have a scar going right over my boob and some clothes or bathing suits don’t fit the same way they used to. Bras?! Forget about it. I’m never going to find a comfy bra ever. One side will always be either too tight or too loose. Small problems to have but ya know…

I remember a couple days after my surgery crying to my at the time boyfriend about how disgusting I looked. My entire boob and I mean ENTIRE BOOB was bruised and parts were shades of green. I kept calling it Frankenboob.

2018-10-21 11:05:02.884

Everything came back good though I’m happy to report. I just had a angry fibroadenoma that liked to grow and cause me pain. It’s been a little over a year now since the surgery and I’ll still have some discomfort. Which is normal. My nerves are still adjusting apparently. I also…which I don’t know if this was intentional but, part of my boob is basically numb. I can feel things but it doesn’t feel the same I guess is the best way to put it.

Now the doctor bills…oh my lord the doctor bills. Thank God for insurance but it still is costing me about $4k (one bill alone before insurance was over $10k..)

I decided to write about this because you never know. You don’t. Many girls and guys my age don’t think to check into these things. What if it would have been cancer? What if I would have just ignored it. What if what if what if.

If any one has further questions of any kind or has also experienced something similar feel free to reach out. I had a lot of questions when I first started learning about Norma and believe you me I was terrified.

If you made it this far wonderful, if not then that’s fine too. 🙂

24.

It feels like it was just a month ago I graduated college and turned 24. Shit, it feels like I was just 23 blasting “What’s my age again?” over and over and…about as much as everyone (mostly everyone…) does at 23. There aren’t many songs after 23 that you can rage to about your age. T-Swift gave us 22, Blink 182 gave us 23…

ANYWAYS…

I did a previous post in August 2017 called 23 Things I’ve learned by 23 but the funny thing about this post….my outlook changed so much in like 2-3 more months about life and I look back and read that entry and think “oh sweetheart just wait..”

So, what I’ve decided to do is every year before my birthday write out things I’ve learned during that year. The “23 things” one would technically be about my life up to age 23 but….just roll with me here. There is about 2-3 more weeks until I turn 25 so…if shit hits the fan within these couple weeks that change up my thoughts…well fuck it.

  1. Do not think everything is always going to go “perfectly”. Because there are times where it’s all possibly just going to go to shit and you just have to roll with it. A major example: my 24th birthday last year, I graduated college the same day…needless to say that was the worst birthday I’ve ever had. I had it all in my head that it was going to be an awesome day. It was my birthday, I was about to walk across stage for something I had worked hard for, was going to a concert afterwards to see all my work friends and just celebrate the fuck out of life….ended up with me crying during my ceremony and going home after to an empty apartment with barely any furniture because we were moving and alone with Sylvester (my cat). One of my best friends stayed during the long ceremony because my at the time boyfriend did not show up and she didn’t want me to walk out to legitimately no one and then took me for a birthday dinner. I’m not saying go through life always half empty but I’m saying is not everything is perfect. I look back on that day and think about ways it could have been different but it was an important day that needed to be lived. It fucking SUCKED but…it was needed.
  2. Embrace change. Open your arms to a huge mass of change because you could be surprised as to how you’ll feel afterwards.
  3. Work hard. Getting promoted at 23 and then really having to step up to the plate this past year if I wanted something and then seeing the outcomes…is amazing. Just work hard if you want something because the end result usually makes you feel great.
  4. Take impromptu trips more often (even alone..) and trust yourself to be fine. Not going to elaborate but you can read Don’t leave the camera and take the blackberry cobbler for my experience with impromptu trips.
  5. Not everyone is your friend.
  6. READ THE FINE PRINT ON YOUR HEALTHCARE PLANS. Especially when your “year” is up. Fun fact: it’s not always January haha I had my lumpectomy in March 2018…found out my deductible started over…in May. So, yeah…read the details!
  7. Take moments to be proud of yourself but also take moments to celebrate your friends and their accomplishments or big life moments.
  8. Just because you live with someone does not mean you know everything about them. You could be living a foot away from them…and then find out there is an entire other side to them.
  9. Be patient. Life happens when you least expect it. (That’s the right corny saying right? I think so…) But it’s true.
  10. Work *clap emoji* on *clap emoji* your *clap emoji* mental*clap emoji* health*clap emoji* too!  Physical health is great…however, work on your mental well-being as well. There is no shame in therapy.
  11. True friendships will survive the distance and time. Just because you don’t talk every day does not mean you’re not close friends.
  12. Hug your loved ones more. I think I said this in the 23 one but just do it. Last labor day we had a scare in my family and sitting in the hospital waiting to find out what was going to happen next was the most nerve racking thing ever.
  13. Don’t be afraid of roommates but also living alone is cool too.
  14. Treat yourself sometimes to “nicer” things if you can afford it. Since my 23 post I upgraded my car (love you Stella) and even now many months later I get in my Fiat 500 L and fall in love all over again. Best last minute (kind of) choice ever.
  15. Don’t be afraid to meet new people! Within the last year holy shit…I have some of the best people in my life and I really embraced branching out and not being such a hermit.
  16. Just because everyone else is having babies and getting married and you aren’t…does not mean that’s a bad thing. Again, be patient. Did you think you’d be married by 25? Yes. Is it okay that life happens and sometimes things change? Also yes. Did you think you’d have kids by 27? Yes. Are you? Probably not hahaha like HIGH probably not. It’s okay. Spoil your friends kids instead and be there for your friends who are getting married.
  17. It’s okay to take a step back on concentrate on work rather than a significant other.
  18. Saying goodbye never gets easier.
  19. Invest in decent skin care and hair care! It’s so worth it.
  20. When you find something you love…run with it. Don’t fear about being judged or people not enjoying the work you are doing. If you love it then do it. You’re doing it for you, not them.
  21. Life can surprise you with amazing chances that you never thought you’d have. So if you feel stuck just know that one moment can break the ice for you.
  22. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help when needed.
  23. You don’t have to be the “perfect adult” not one at our age is the “perfect adult”. Most of us are just faking it until we figure out what the fuck we are doing. There was a time where I was so stressed about cooking dinner all the time or having the dishes done all the time. Life happens. Sometimes you get busy and work a ton and just do not have the time. It’s okay that you don’t have dinner done by 7pm.
  24. Lastly, stay true to you. Over the last year I realized how much of myself changed and how many people told me that it was nice to see the “old Hunter” back. You talk about a reflection on yourself.

Now most people I hear get worried or have like a “quarter life crisis” around 25. For me I’m like bring it on May 4th. I thought 24 was going to be awful based on how my actual 24th birthday went, and the first couple months of it were. They were just…yeah. But over all…from a personal standpoint (and if you have read my other posts etc) it was a monumental year.

25, I don’t have high hopes for you but I have moderately high hopes about life in general moving forward. The last couple month’s have been amazing and I know my age will not change anything aside that it’s just showing I’m aging.

I don’t have plans yet for the big 2.5. bday but if you want to check out what goes down you can follow @lifessidebar on instagram and see for yourself.

 

Don’t leave the camera and take the blackberry cobbler

10 points to whatever Hogwarts house you are if you get my reference in my title. 

This post…is going to be a two part thing. There’s two topics I want to touch on and it’s just going in one long ass post.

This past weekend I did something I never EVER thought I’d do. I know people travel alone all of the time but those who know me…will know THAT IS NOT ME. I am an anxious person and I don’t dislike being alone by any means but in certain cases I don’t like to be alone.

Well. This bitch went against everything in her head and went to Atlanta alone (for those who don’t know because why would you really…I live outside of Charleston, SC). To a concert. Alone. Stayed over night. ALONE. Wandered the city the next day A-FUCKING-LONE….and ya know what? It was awesome. Like I didn’t go to Foo Fighters in Columbia (which is like an hour and a half away) because I had no one to go with me and was an anxious mess for many reasons but WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT GIRL?!
If you read my previous post Go ahead and brush ya shoulders off.. you’ll know that it’s been a weird time in my life to say the least. While I was gone I was getting texts and snaps from friends saying how proud they were of me for going alone. It was wonderful though. The only part that was a little…eh..was in between bands when I’d go outside and knew NO ONE and everyone was laughing having a great time and there I was…looking through my camera at the shots I got. The only time I was approached was to be asked if I had a lighter. But, I told myself that as I get more into show photography there are going to be shows where I am alone so I need to embrace it and get used to it. Which is my second topic I’ll touch on. After the show I grabbed food (because I was STARVING…I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on taking photos of State Champs by the end of it because my damn stomach was yelling at me) and crashed at my hotel. Slept like a dead person and had to rush because I woke up an hour before check out. Then I just winged it. I felt like Phoebe from Friends…I didn’t even have a “pla”. I looked up the nearest coffee shop (that wasn’t a starbucks) went there, edited some shots and then picked a parking garage and walked. Road the sky view thing..and when the man was like “just you?” I legit laughed and said yep. Then made my way for lunch. Ended up at The Porter and had a beer, some delicious appetizers and a blackberry cobbler. Y’all…the looks I was getting were priceless. The looks of “is someone joining her…?” “was she stood up…?” those looks. But it was glorious. I’ve taken myself to movies before and obviously have had to eat out alone before but this situation took the damn cake.

For the first time in a long time I’m becoming content with being alone for a bit. I’m going to be 25 in less than two months, I’m single, I’ve got two steady jobs and I found something I am in love with rather than someone I’m in love with. Also, my lovely roommate is moving out (remember that engagement shoot I did?) in roughly ten days and I have not found a new one but…that’s okay. I’d rather try and make it work alone than just pick someone for the sake of picking a new person.

I’m redoing my apartment to fit me. My long term boyfriend and I lived together for about three years and we obviously purchased (I purchased actually) things for our house. I sold my love seat ($50 to get it gone haha) gave away my coffee table, will be giving away some other items as I replace them and bought a gorgeousssss emerald green couch. If anyone knows me knows my favorite color is this shade of green. Even my Fiat is Emerald green.

Basically…when I said 2019 was going to be about loving myself more…I wasn’t kidding. I’m putting work into myself rather than anyone else. I spent the better part of half a decade (yep) making sure someone else was happy and healthy and basically alive to where I became so unhappy I forgot who I was as a person. I just knew myself as “that” person.

Which brings me to my second topic. Life’s Sidebar. When I started this blog in 2016 it was to become a creative outlet for me while I was struggling trying to figure out what my life was. Then March 18, 2017, basically two years ago yesterday I made my second Instagram @lifessidebar  and it was going to be an extension of this blog but I was talked into doing Rodan & Fields (which I will say…their products are actually pretty good haha I just didn’t make the time and wanted the discount haha) and was playing around with like recipes, music I was listening to, products I was using and it felt so fake. It was like a weird version of me that I was like eh this doesn’t fit. I was however doing car chats which I actually did love doing. Those were fun. Fast forward to August 2017. I started interning at Music Farm in Charleston. Part of my internship was taking photos during the shows. Now, I’ve gone to my fair share of shows/concerts over the last decade and of course took photos but I never really took the time to just pause and really try but since I knew these were going to be shared on their socials I was like “Hunter get good shots!” and the more I took…the more I went “oh wow…okay I’m enjoying this.” Concert photography became my happy place. It was my escape from reality and for those couple hours I was in a spot where I felt like myself. It wasn’t until maybe February 2018 that I was like “I really want to do this on a serious level” and I was starting to get more feed back on my photos.

I want to point out…I wasn’t using a fancy camera. I was using my iPhone: 7, then 8 plus and then the XS. That’s it. It was my phone, VSCO and that’s it. It wasn’t until I was dating a guy who pushed me to actually look into cameras and using one that I made the change over. October 21, 2018 was the first time I ever used a legit camera. Ever. I didn’t know what I was doing and as he was explaining how to use it (like ISO etc) I felt so dumb. It was all foreign to me and I had no idea it was more detailed than just “snap and shoot”. He answered all my questions and was patient and without that push I probably wouldn’t have taken the jump when I did. So thanks O’Connell.
When I posted about that day being the first time I ever used a camera there was a bit of shock on my feed. No one knew I was using my phone camera (ha-ha) and it was actually really almost rewarding (I guess that’s the word) because I didn’t think I was “good enough” (still don’t really haha).

Fast forward again to January 2019. I finally broke down and made a big purchase. My black betty (love her). She’s a canon t6 and she doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles but she’s my first camera. I still don’t know WHAT THE FUCK I am doing. There’s so much I have to learn you guys. So much. I want to take a class forreal but until then I know some basics. On January 27, 2019, I shot my first show with my canon. I emailed a month prior and got on the guest list for August Burns Red to shoot photos (internally screams still) and I remember being so nervous. It was at Music Farm so it’s not like I hadn’t taken photos there before but not for one of my favorite bands “professionally”.  My ex (it’s okay to stay friends with some ex’s btw, sup adulthood) even told me “if you feel stuck using the camera just take out your phone like you normally would and do what you do” because I was that nervous. I was like thinking “I’m going to take all these shit photos” etc.

Well, you can see hereand hereand lastly here, that I was wrong. I cried you guys. As stupid as that sounds…I took a moment and stood on the stairs in the venue and was looking through my camera at some of my shots and got teary eyed. It was a rush of emotions all at once because even now a year ago…or a few months ago I would  have never thought I would have done THAT. Ever. There’s photographers I look up to and one I was standing next to shooting the show.

About a week or two or something another show came up and I emailed and got a pass for just practice etc and….I hit a wall of panic. When I say I was driving in my car crying…I was crying. It was at the Performing Arts Center and I was legitimately mentally tearing myself down. “You have no business going” “You are out of your league” “You don’t know what you are even doing Hunter” “You don’t belong there” and lastly “You’re still just an _____’s girlfriend”.  It kept running through my head over and over until I was in bed with a headache and feeling all kinds of low. That’s the bitch about anxiety. It will knock you off your feet when you are even feeling your happiest.

After a talk with my roommate and myself basically I talked myself into going and I’m glad I did. I didn’t stay for the entire show because my head was throbbing but I stayed for a decent amount of time.

(legit trying to not get emotional writing this out)

Fast forward again to this last weekend. I knew I wanted to shoot State Champs & Our Last Night for The Living Proof tour. There was a show in Charlotte and Atlanta. Charlotte sold out so I picked Atlanta. I didn’t really have anyone to go with me and at first I was like again I can’t go to this alone…until finally I was like “Yes bitch, you can”.

I take little moments during big moments of my life or what I’m doing and just stop and watch. Which I did. There were a couple moments during the show I just stopped shooting and embraced what I was doing and where I was. I again saw a photographer that I looked up to and got to shoot next to her.

As I’m typing this…I’m still getting notifications from Instagram for likes on one of the posts I did from that night. Currently it’s at 387 likes and another is at 227. (WHICH IS FUCKING CRAZY LIKE HOLY BANANAS) The most I’ve ever gotten was maybe 150 and otherwise if it’s at almost 100 or more it’s a photo of me (which cool but ya know….lol as a starting photographer…) I tried that promote feature and didn’t expect it to help exposure for these two photos and it helped. Instagram make it easier for people to see shit! When I say it blows my mind that not only that many people have seen my photo…but liked it…mine. My photo. I’ve had my camera maybe two month’s and still don’t know what I’m doing and still feel like I’m out of my league in the photo pit. I’m humble because I know it’s a fluke. It’s not something that will always happen and I know there are so many talented artists out there better than me.

But I’m also grateful and so in shock that this is my life at this moment. So, not bragging by any means but just so shocked and it’s a cool feeling.

I work in property management outside of Charleston, I have a cat and basically no one special. I do NOT say that in a bad way because I love my little life haha I just mean I’m a nobody.

So getting to shoot certain shows and those artists seeing that work and liking it. Even asking you to send them photos….it’s just amazing and I’m so happy.

For the first time in a very very long time I am so happy. Again, I found something I’m in love with. I don’t expect to be the next big photographer but shit I’ll try my hardest.

You can see my photos here or Instagram.

If you made it this far…which if your ass read all of this bravo. Just fucking bravo because this was a lot longer than I expected. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone following this website, my facebook page, my poor sad twitter page and my Instagram and all of the support and love.

For old times…if you made it this far leave a watermelon on a post.

Love,

H