Mental health: A personal journey

Recently I attended a London Writers Salon-hosted online interview with entrepreneur and author James Routledge, founder of Sanctus – a start-up he set up due to the mental health issues he struggled with as a result of his first failed start-up, having found there was nothing in place to offer the help he needed.

I found myself relating deeply to all he was saying – including his identification of himself as a fellow ‘intense creative‘ on the Enneagram personality spectrum, since I am innately aware that being both intense and intensely creative comes with its own unique mental health challenges. Also, having had quite a bumpy ride with several start-ups, etc myself, which, along with the changes in my sector (journalism/media), the ups and downs of freelance life, and a few really bad bosses/work situations, these inevitably triggered my own mental health issues and eventual recovery. I too have struggled at times because of a lack of resources to deal with these, as well as an occasional sense of being stigmatised through others’ misunderstandings and ignorance.

After I posted a few comments in the Zoom chat window, several of my writing colleagues urged me to write about this – so here I am. As Routledge’s own writings, which led to his creation of the now wildly successful Sanctus, clearly struck a nerve, I hope my reflections as below will help those who may be dealing with similar issues, or who may simply want to have a better understanding of mental health.

However, as this is a massive topic, I cannot possibly cover it all – I have only written about various experiences and included helpful tools, links and key learnings from my own personal journey. I have also written with diverse audiences in mind, so you may just wish to read the most relevant section/topic or simply review the main take-aways at the end of each section.

I have split this into the following four themes, which will appear as separate blog posts in due course:

  1. What is mental health? – breaks down the differences between mental health, mental health conditions and mental illness, and discusses stigmas and why mental health problems are so prevalent today; refers to the practise of mindfulness;
  2. Mental health and work – focuses on the ups and downs of start-ups and freelance work – in my case, in media/journalism, with the switch to digital and other issues since the downturn –and dealing with bullying bosses and toxic teams;
  3. Mental health and creativity – shares my own story of being a blocked writer and artist and my journey towards recovery; how being blocked affects the mental health of creatives; tools for unblocking; and how even non-creatives can use the same practices and disciplines employed by artists, writers, musicians, etc to achieve their own positive mental health and life goals; and
  4. Mental health and faith – looks at the connections between spirituality and mental health, the theme of suffering, and how mental health and spiritual journeys are innately connected (please note, as I am a Christian, this is my personal point of reference, though I have alluded to learnings from other spiritual disciplines).

Please note, although my own experiences and observations are valid, balanced with research and recognised resources, I am NOT a doctor nor a healthcare professional – for proper help and guidance, please refer to the links embedded within the body of the article or in the resources section at the end.

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