A decade of mental health

A decade of mental health

With the ushering in of a new decade, naturally I started thinking about what I had accomplished in the past 10 years. There were many different things and it seemed more sensible to break it down into categories, which is when I thought of the last decade purely in terms of mental health.

What happened, and what has it represented to me? I wanted to take the time to reflect and put “pen to paper”. After all, “That’s mental” wasn’t born out of thin air.

Experiencing mental health issues

In my notebook I wrote “burned out at least four times”, “started mental health blogging”, and “got to know myself better through coaching” as a few items that stand out.

In reality the early days of my career were marked by anxiety, sleep deprivation, and indeed several burnouts. As I’ve already explained in several blog posts and videos, once I came out the other side I plucked up my courage and decided to start blogging about it.

As with many issues, we often think we are alone and question our sanity. We’re not sure whether we’re overreacting or perhaps even imagining it. My primary goal with the blog posts was to help others realize that actually there were many more people like them. Like us.

What did all that look like?

A short summary of the past decade when it comes to my own mental health

  • Early 2011 I was actually unemployed. I was mostly positive about it but long stints of unemployment are challenging and I remember already struggling with insomnia.
  • About 3 months into my agency job I burned out by pushing myself too much, combined with workplace pressure.
  • During that year and a half long project, I was extremely sleep deprived due to my anxiety and inability to quiet my mind
  • I probably experienced at least one more burnout while working on that project
  • I was also bullied in the workplace, to make matters worse
  • As a result of the above I had lost my self confidence and became a shadow version of myself
  • Afterwards, I burned out again at least twice in the next four and a half years including my most recent experience
  • I remember crying a lot, feeling hopeless and like I would never get on top of my work pile, feeling lonely, bringing work home and into my relationship, and feeling really desperate
  • I remember feeling angry, disappointed and frustrated. I think a lot of the time I had a sentiment of injustice being done towards me, if that even makes sense. Like I was being treated unfairly and all the woes of the world were upon me (super dramatic).
  • Leaving #agencylife and entering #startuplife came with its own set of challenges, learning to adapt who I was professionally and dealing with a fair amount of self-doubt and questioning, albeit being stronger than I was at the start of the decade.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom otherwise I wouldn’t be sat here writing this today. The past decade marked a turning point for me in my relationship with mental health and learning how to manage it.

The positive mental health moments of the last decade

  • I was blessed with the first manager who ever listened to me and made me feel seen as another human being. Better still, that person understood my struggles with mental health and was supportive of my journey
  • I met another colleague who was very open to listening to my story and the trauma I had experienced. She acknowledged what had happened to me and helped me feel that it had indeed been an exceptionally bad experience, and I hadn’t made it up
  • That person also gave me the keys to recovery, by encouraging me to become more fearless and take ownership of who I was as a professional
  • I became better at managing my mental health, setting boundaries, sticking up for myself and speaking out
  • I became more closely aligned with my values thanks to coaching, which helped me with all of the above
  • I started blogging on the topic, and it grew beyond my expectations
  • I met many amazing and exciting people who were also interested in the topic and were open to having conversations about it. Who helped broaden my horizons, and trusted in me as a mental health advocate
  • I received positive feedback on my blog and my articles, with people telling me they enjoy reading them
  • Best of all, people have reached out to me personally to tell me how the blog has helped them in one way or another. Those messages mean the world to me and give me so much energy and drive to continue

The positive impact of being a mental health advocate

So why am I sharing all this? It’s not about self gratification, it’s about taking time to recognize the achievements and be grateful.

What I’ve come to realize is that through hardship can come great things. If I hadn’t gone through the difficult times above, I wouldn’t be launching “That’s Mental” today. And while it did involve a lot of negative experiences, I’m actually grateful for them because they shaped me. They made me aware of a problem that needed to be solved, and they gave me the inspiration to start this project.

What I’ve often noticed in entrepreneurs or business owners I admire is their drive and passion for what they do. First and foremost, they started out as just another passionate person working on something they loved. And while that doesn’t always turn into huge success, I’m pretty confident that without it, the business wouldn’t be the same.

That was something I also wanted to apply in my life and to my work ethic, and I can truly say that with “That’s mental”, it’s the case. It doesn’t matter to me how many visitors I get or if I’m an “influencer”, what matters if I can make a difference for just one person. If I can help someone who feels lost or alone, to feel better.

So with that, I’d like to say Thank You to everyone reading this, to those who have supported the blog, to the people I’ve met on this journey… to all of you! And I’m very much looking forward to this next decade and the surprises it holds.

Here’s to personal growth! (and also the next decade).

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Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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