Funnily enough, my long break coincided with the low-season for birds in Thailand; although it could have been a tiny contributing factor as chasing birds was a large part of my life the past year. Long-story-short about my disappearance, Tama the Zebra Dove‘s departure triggered a string of events which amounted to a period of severe depression. The depression brought up past traumas, which had been affecting my functioning in life for many years. This was a good thing as my issues were brought into focus and without this distressing time they may have been left unaddressed. However bad something is, there’s always good: without ‘bad’ there’s no ‘good’ they have to co-exist.
Sadly, the severe depression spiralled deeper into psychotic episodes with suicidal delusions. This was also accompanied by derealisation. I’m happy to talk about it but won’t go much further here as it could fill a book with some of the peculiar things which occurred in this time of immense suffering. I will keep it short because I struggle to put words to some of the stuff I went through.
In terms of Tama, we saved him from certain death and we nurtured him back to health. He wasn’t your average Dove though, his development may have been stunted by the parasites he initially harboured. I may have seen myself in him. So losing him triggered something deeper.
Part of my recovery took place away from home in Chiang Mai. Thankfully, the locale was full of wildlife and birds. Most prominently showing were Red-whiskered Bulbuls. I credit one with helping me settle in on my first day. I immediately grabbed my camera and took some pictures whisking me away from the chaos going on inside my head. These weren’t easy days by any means, I was triggered into a state of fight-or-flight for a significant portion of my first week. Luckily I had moments of being settled and continued my herping photography at night time.
I’m grateful I was allowed to pursue my hobby when I was staying there and below I’ll share a few of the images I took over the 14 days:
On my last weekend at the rehab, we had a trip to Doi Inthanon. I’ve never birded in the north so I was excited. Although I had no time for dedicated birding due to the nature of the excursion. I was able to get two ticks in the form Black-backed Sibia and Yellow-bellied Fairy-Fantail. I was very satisfied with these two as I had very little time to watch the birds; managing to get good photographs was icing on the cake.
I’m incredibly grateful to anyone who reads my blog here. Having survived the last couple months I’ve become stronger and learnt a lot about myself. Some of it was the worst suffering I’ve endured but like I stated earlier, suffering has to exist for there to be joy. And to the people I met at The Dawn, much love to you all, you were such an incredible influence on me.
A little anecdote, before or around the time I started going into psychosis my brain was severely imbalanced, I was waking up in a terror every night, it felt like I had been killed. On one occasion, a switch flipped. I felt such love for everything, I had tears in my eyes as I felt this love so deeply, I felt I could do anything, I had deep satisfaction for life and my situation. It was a state of enlightenment, from then, I knew what is deep inside all of us.
I will continue to follow my passion for wildlife and birds, without my past traumas, I may not have discovered my love for them and for that I’m very grateful. As stated earlier, nothing is ever ‘bad’ because bad is on the same coin as good.
All images © 2022 hamsambly