Is Tyler Durden your greatest asset?
It’s mental health week.
That one week where people will admit that their life is not quite as glossy as it looks on Facebook. It’s incredibly encouraging to see people open up and share their inner demons and struggles with mental health. Heck, even the ol’ Royals are joining in. So what about me? Well, I’ve decided to level up from telling people on Facebook who already know me, to anyone who finds my website. You know, people who may want to work with me or even hire me in the future. Risky? Perhaps…
Four years ago, I wasn’t in the best place mentally. After losing a job I despised (a story for another day), and walking away from a toxic relationship I felt I’d reached my lowest point. Feeling like a failure I took a long hard look in the mirror. Unfortunately my inner demon looking back wasn’t a buff young Brad Pitt. My inner demon is not so hot. I had been struggling with anxiety. With the prejudice around mental health, I was too afraid to tell anyone… yet, it had gotten to the stage where it was controlling my life. And how did this anxiety manifest itself? Now, this is an embarrassing thing for me to admit - but whenever I got super anxious, my mind convinced me that I needed a wee. How inconvenient is that? I’d be halfway through pitching an idea, and all I could think about is how much I really want to just run out and go the loo. I would be so convinced I needed to go tinkle that I couldn’t go far away from the porcelain throne. It’s all mental of course. There were no wet knickers thank goodness, but still I was going to the toilet 20/30 times a day, you know, just in case.
As you can imagine, this was something that dominated my life. Being at the bottom meant there was only one way to go. Up. Luckily, those steps I took back then, are still enriching my life now. And that was what worked for me. Confronting it, picking my life apart (with help of course) and building it back up again, the way I wanted it to be. It was hard but ultimately worth it. And realistically, I don't think I'd change any of it, cos I simply wouldn't be the person I am now - out the other side, with a life that makes me happy and a whole toolkit of things to help me if I have a ‘bad day’.
Luckily my efforts paid off - once I had started to pick up the pieces of what I thought about myself, and who I wanted to be, I began moving forward. I landed a role in a global agency and met someone who I think is an absolute keeper. Now I’d say I was almost ‘normal’. I almost function like a ‘normal’ piddling person. And yes, there is the odd occasion I will leave a meeting to go for a wee. But hey, normal people do that too.
I’ve just finished reading this little gem from Dave Birss. He suffers from bipolar and depression… who knew? He makes a really lovely and thought-provoking point, which made me want to write this piece. Sometimes the things we think are these terrible secrets, could in fact, be the things that make us good at what we do.
Take me. Anxious. And I can be stupidly anxious at times. But that does make me think a lot. Sometimes that can be just about my good pal - the toilet, and sometimes it opens up a whole new way of thinking about stuff that can actually benefit my career. When you boil down what I do for a living, I’m paid to think. If I wasn’t anxious I don’t think I’d approach briefs in the way that I do. Being anxious also makes me super passionate. I really care about the work I do and want it to go as well as possible. I’m not sure I would wake up at 4am as much as I do, just to have a little think if I didn’t 'overthink' and care as passionately as I do.
I also spend my time pouring over art and design, typography and illustration, film and animation. I get so absorbed that it can act as a coping mechanism to drown out overthinking when it becomes unproductive. But even this has a really positive effect. I think, without blowing my own trumpet, that I have quite a big range of reference and inspiration… Now it's all sitting on Pinterest. Waiting for me. It's a wealth of beautiful imagery that I can tap into as well as feed, anytime I want.
That’s why Mental Health Week is so darn important. It’s about changing the negative stereotypes. Changing how people see mental health, through sharing their story. I guess my concluding paragraph, for my first ever blog post (and who knew I’d go balls deep with this as my first topic hey) is that the majority of people don’t have a clue, and that’s fine. If people only know half the story – that I’m a passionate thinker who’s driven by powerful visuals… then that’s fine. But wouldn’t it be great to show people that anxiety is the reason that my mind works in the way that it does. That anxiety, could in fact, be the reason we should work together in the future.
You know, only if you have a toilet near by.