Swimming Against the Tide

Photographs and words by Kirsty Logan

Artist Statement:

This project is about the road to both mental and physical recovery. Whilst the work I have completed is about me personally, and the difficulties that I have faced, during the process to diagnosis of Seronegative Rheumatoid arthritis and the mental battles that accompany this. I think it is a good indicator of what others have been through also. I focused my imagery on the water due to the connotations it holds, there are peaks and troughs, highs and lows, rough and calm. Depth of the water was another area that I wanted to look at as not only can it be used to talk about the depths of emotion an individual can feel, a common comment when people are having a difficult time is to say that they feel out of their depth. As in Roni Horn’s Another Water, it also needs to be acknowledged that bodies of water are often place people go to end their lives when life just seems too overwhelming to carry on anymore.

Whilst the water can say a great deal about the bad connotations, it is important to also look at the good. Many people including myself find that sound of the ocean and lapping of other bodies of water to be extremely soothing. There are also other therapeutic benefits to water, many will find it cleansing to wash away their problems, and also individuals who suffer with joint problems are encouraged to exercise in the water to take pressure away from their bodies and assist in recovery. You could also link this to other connotations of water, individuals get blessed and baptised using water, and also believe miracles occur like those who make pilgrimages to Lourdes

 The Darkest Moments - Kirsty Logan, 2019
The Darkest Moments – Kirsty Logan, 2019

4th April 2017.

So today I ended up in a moon boot, with the instruction of if I even attempted to carry on my training for the London Marathon I would be out of my mind! The Doctors are convinced the Achilles is intact but there could be a tear which explains the popping. To say that I am devastated does not even cover it. If only I could have lasted 3 more weeks.
What am I supposed to do about my charity??? I really hope no one asks for the funds back as I have no idea how I would be able to afford it!!!
Turbulence – Kirsty Logan, 2019

23rd April 2017.

I should have been in London today.
I watched all of the coverage from start to finish, willing to see my team and more importantly my training partner, who I should have been with during the highs and the lows of the 26.2 miles. I feel cheated. I cried all day, Trying to feel positive is just not on the agenda today. I feel sorry for my loved ones having to be around me. I’m a mixture of miserable, over emotional and so angry that I let this happen.
Clouding the View – Kirsty Logan, 2019

28th April 2017

Today was my first physio session. To say it went badly would be an understatement. My leg is in such a bad state he could barely touch it. The pain is exhausting to the point where I just cried throughout the treatment. He is hopeful that it will get better with time, but he is not able to put a timeline on it. He said it would have been better if it had gone through a full dislocation instead of the partial bit it had done. I just wish I could do something. I feel useless. I can’t see my running friends as I pretty much can’t walk for longer than 10 minutes! I miss them, I miss running and being able to alleviate bad thoughts through running. Instead I feel stuck, and sad and useless.
Torment – Kirsty Logan, 2019

3rd July 2017

Two months into treatment, my physio has got my leg moving again, not pain free but moving. He said I could try a run again, but only 2 lamposts in every 1k. I don’t know if it was sheer adreneline, but I didn’t follow the rules to the letter. I over did it. I now can’t move my leg properly. Almost to the point at the very beginning. I have no one to blame but myself. Going back to the haze of the painkillers, I feel bad for not following the rules, I’ve undone the hard work we had achieved. I don’t know how I could have been so silly. then there is all the “I told you so’s”!!! They just make me feel even worse that I already did.

Acceptance – Kirsty Logan, 2019

30th August 2017

I think I am coming to accept that my leg may not be the same again. This has been quite a good moment to have. Maybe it is just marathon training had taken up so much time that when running was taken away I hadn’t found the activity to fill the gap. So when I got accepted to study for my MA it was a shock to the system to actually still be able to do something well. I got my preliminary first batch on results from Uni today – I passed, this made me feel good. I met up with the girls from running group and went for a walk – I think I am beginning to just say it is OK with the pity looks and the “You’ll get there” comments


Daily Battles – Kirsty Logan 2019

12th September 2017

One thing that I have learnt since I got injured, is that everyday is a battle – Its difficult to get moving in the mornings, it difficult to stay focused on what I am trying to achieve, and its difficult to see other people just getting on with their lives when in many ways I feel so limited. I have so many things that I should feel grateful for, it just seems to hard when there are so many obstacles in the way and waves of difficulty to overcome!
I attempted to run a race to try and make myself feel normal – The actual outcome was physical, mental and emotional pain. The Great North 5K is my favourite race and holds so many happy memories for me. Though my fear now is that, memories are all I am going to have now. Crossing the line I pretty much fell in to a flood of tears when meeting my marathon training partner.
I fly on holiday tomorrow, and due to the punishment that I put myself through attempting to run – I fear I may have ruined it before I even leave the ground! I can hear my physios words in my head – “I told you it was a bad idea!”
Regression – Kirsty Logan, 2019

26th October 2017


Think I am going to christen 2017 the worst year ever. As if my bucket wasn’t already full of enough troubles, I have now been diagnosed with Anaemia! It just keeps getting better! I feel like I just need too lock myself up in a room and not come out, I think it might be safer that way. I now have a schedule of tests that I have to have to try and find out the reason for the anaemia – More hospital visits, my favourite. I have the urge to just disappear somewhere on my own in isolation and cry. I’ve had enough!

I feel like I am in a whirlpool, everything seems to be going wrong! My blood tests are all over the place, and they are getting worse!! My inflammatory markers are now high. No-one seems to be able to explain why this is all happening right now, though I am doing a tour of the hospitals visiting 3 different departments trying to find out what on Earth is wrong with me! This makes me panic, feel anxious I just have this lump in my throat the whole time. My heart hammers, and i’m just so tired. Days are tough and I feel like I am drowning. The only thing keeping me going is my family and Chris.


Strength comes from the Inside – Kirsty Logan, 2019

15th December 2018

I had my first Rheumatology appointment today. It is the first time a clinician has said its OK I can help you, I’m pretty sure I know what is going on. The Doctor asked all of my symptoms and said they are all connected. Turns out there might be an answer after all. He has set up a treatment plan for me. This felt like a turning point. Maybe I can do this maybe there is a way forward. I’m going to have injections into my ankle to help it heal. I can do this.
Confusion – Kirsty Logan, 2019

29th January 2018

I feel so confused. They injections were meant to help, they were meant to make me feel better. The actual procedure other than nearly passing out one injection to the ankle joint was bearable the injection into the plantar fascia, was like standing onto a plug and it breaking through. I’m not allowed to walk on it, but it already feels like the worst ever plantar fascitis. It burns and I feel so emotional about it.
Glimmer of Hope – Kirsty Logan, 2019

11th May 2018

I started doing the couch to 5k last week, and the sessions are going well. I can’t explain how good it feels to run again. My mood has improved . I’m not going to say that it is easy, because it isn’t I am really unfit – but it is freeing to lace up your trainers – I do have to be careful because I get carried away, and it is still painful so I really have to listen to what my body is telling me and back off the pace when I get the signals…. when I say pace I think a turtle could overtake me, BUT this is a massive step.
Levelling – Kirsty Logan, 2019

1st June 2018

I didn’t think I could get so much joy from a days work. A colleague of Chris’s said I could help out taking photos at a wedding, for some experience – I was really nervous and I could feel the anxiety in my throat but it was so good. I felt like a normal person, doing an extraordinary job, its such a privileged to be allowed into someones special day. it also made me hugely appreciative of being able to have my family and Chris around me. One of the brides had lost a lot of family, so when I went home after hearing the stories I gave everyone an extra big hug, I am so much better off than some people and I should be grateful to have most of my important people still here with me. My Grandma would have been so proud of me today.
Letting the Light In – Kirsty Logan, 2019

6th June 2018

Today I received a diagnosis and knowledge that what I have been through in the last year and a half was not in my head – it is an actual condition, and all of the things that I sustained was a disease I couldn’t have done anything about – I have Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis which is the Inflammatory Arthritis Family. It explains things even before my injury – how I struggled to recover after long runs for example. It has made me less angry – as if I hadn’t got injured I could have been struggling without knowing – the anaemia can be caused by the arthritis along with the anxiety and depression. I am going to be receiving medication and support to help me. I can see hope again!
Bubbling Anxiety – Kirsty Logan, 2019

15th June 2018

Today was a bad day. We had some very sad news that my cousin had left us. I hope he found peace at last. I think when things are not expected they hit you harder. It has really put me in a spin, I also felt guilt, should I have done more/ could I have done more? I cried a lot today, it made me anxious and I could feel the bubbles in my throat. I need to stay strong and talk about my feelings. I can’t bottle it up as I want to get through the grief. I’ve been reading about mental health a lot recently, I have recognised in myself that I need to take action to improve my own state of mind. I just need to find what works for me.

Regaining Calmness – Kirsty Logan, 2019

1st January 2019

Yesterday was a really emotional day. I returned to my running group to support my run group leader complete a truly amazing challenge of running a half marathon a week for a whole year. I saw a lot of my running friends many of whom I haven’t seen for a very long time and I cried A LOT. Of what I missed, of who I missed and my longing to get back to them and have my running family back around me. They give me a boost – but my recent flare ups have made this difficult for me. I was so proud of the strength of them, and from my reception, when I am ready I know I still have a place with them. This made me feel vert happy and calming in reflection. Chris and I went into Newcastle and I took some photographs and this made me happy. I have found that the photography process is my calming place, no matter how much pain I am in it is something I can do and it helps.


Light Returning – Kirsty Logan, 2019

12th January 2019

Today I went for a walk in the local woods with my Mam. I felt like a normal human. My pain was on the minimal side, and I applied the practice of mindful/contemplative photography techniques and it was a joy. I felt fully alive not just the shell I have sometimes experienced over the last couple of years. I also achieved some images I was really happy with. I can feel it getting better like when light hits water and you can see it working its way through. After a review with my consultant we can see a 25% improvement in my condition, whilst there is still a way to go and I know not everyday is going to be like this – it felt good. I am on my way back.


Breakthrough – Kirsty Logan, 2019

2nd March 2019.

I am going to be OK.
Over the last couple of months I can sense I am going to be OK, I can see the light in the sky, the sunlight on the waves the glimmering of a hopeful future. It’s been touch and go – there are things that are still going to make me overemotional – The Blue Light Choir singing “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman in Eldon Square raising money for the charity Mind was my latest example of this. I nearly cried right in the middle of the crowd – I thought of my cousin – and then I thought. I am OK, yes I am in pain, but it only proves that I am still here I am still strong and I can use my voice to help others.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me”
This is me – The Greatest Showman – Songwriters Justin Paul/Benj Pasek

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