Health and Wellness

Kondo Your Career: Tidying Up Your Work Life (it could be magic!)

By Kristen Harris

A few years ago Marie Kondo wrote a little book about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up your home, which gained popularity and spiraled into a Netflix series. Now it seems like everyone I know is “tidying up”.

The word “Kondo” has even morphed into a verb. Friends of mine have said ”...last week I Kondoed my kitchen…” or “I spent all week Kondoing…” In fact, just last night I Kondoed my tee shirt drawer (she was right, they’re easier to find when folded into little squares).

Why are people obsessed with decluttering? I believe it’s because we crave a sense of control over our lives. With news, information, entertainment, and work bombarding us from every direction 24/7, we want to feel like we can control some part of our life. Even if it’s just the tee shirt drawer.

So I started thinking, can you Kondo your career? Does this concept of tidying up apply to work as well as home? Yes, and not just by cleaning off your desk.

Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that speak to you or, in her terms, “spark joy”. This is the same for work and career–we only want you to hold onto things that bring happiness. Let’s be honest, it’s called work for a reason; not every moment is going to be sunshine and roses. But I truly believe that everyone can find happiness in their work and, if that’s not the case, then it’s time to find work that can make you happy.

Just as she suggests tackling your home objects by category, we encourage you to look at your work life and career in the same way. Start with self-exploration, then experiences, resume, work samples and, finally, relationships.

Self-exploration is first and critical because if you don’t know what you want and need, it will be impossible to clear through the rest. Collecting and reflecting on experiences helps you gather information to edit and update your resume. Next, gather, edit and organize work samples that support your resume and the type of opportunities you’re interested in. Finally, review, edit and maybe increase your relationships to match your wants and needs.

When helping someone declutter their home, Kondo has them gather everything from one category, literally making a huge pile of all of those items (e.g. clothing or kitchen tools). Use this same concept when tackling one of these career categories. For example, to begin tidying up your work samples, start by making a big pile of everything you have (literally or electronically).

Then consider each piece and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If yes, put it in the “keep” pile; if no, then thank it for the role it played in your life and let it go. You really only want the best of everything in your life, and that includes your best work, best experiences, best relationships, etc. I know, this process all sounds a little woo-woo but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know what brings us happiness. There is a mindful, introspective component to this clearing method that allows us to keep the best and release the rest.

Once you’ve narrowed down to what you’re keeping, then find the best method for organizing and storing. This could mean creating a dream board, re-designing your resume, building a new portfolio website, re-organizing the folders where you store work samples, or connecting with all of your contacts through LinkedIn. Whatever the method, you need an attractive and easily accessible way to store these items or information.

Taking time to clear through materials, experiences, goals, samples, and relationships that are no longer serving you can bring more happiness (maybe even life-changing magic) to your career!

Health is Important at Any Age

By Dani Shimits

When I was 23, I got my cholesterol numbers taken for the first time. It was a service offered at work and I was like sure, why not. Although I was young and considered myself a healthy individual overall, I was shocked when my total cholesterol came back high. This is when I learned cholesterol runs in my family and these numbers are something, I need to be aware of.

Heart health is important no matter what age or how healthy you think you are. There are many factors that can affect your overall health and being aware of your risk factors can help you manage your own heart health. The higher your blood pressure is, the harder your heart must work to pump the blood throughout your body. The more plaque you have built up in your arteries (which is considered your cholesterol) the harder is it for the blood to be pumped through your arteries. This leads to your heart doing extra work which then may lead to heart health issues down the road.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in America has a coronary event every 25 seconds. Awareness is a key factor when looking at heart health. Knowing your family history and getting yourself screened on a yearly basis can prevent heart disease.

Keeping your heart healthy is also going to keep yourself healthy overall. Being mindful of your movement and how you fuel your body daily. How are you managing your stress? Taking care of your overall well-being is also going to keep your heart healthy. It is never too late to invest in yourself and your well-being. Start now by going and getting a health screening from your doctor. Look at your numbers and be aware! Your health STARTS with you!

Tips for managing heart health:

  1. Manage overall nutrition. Be mindful of your sodium and processed food intake. Limit alcohol (I did not say avoid) intake. Cook meals at home and meal plan with your family.

  2. MOVE!!! Move throughout the day. You are at home and work the majority of your day so do things to get more movement. Example, park further away from the door, make copies to the printer that is further away from your desk or use the bathroom further away from your desk.

  3. Avoid tobacco and nicotine because they can cause damage to your arteries, raise your blood pressure and make it harder to get oxygen throughout the body.

  4. Be mindful of your stress and how much sleep you are getting. These can both lead to higher blood pressure and higher blood sugar readings, which then can lead to increased risk for heart disease.

  5. Be an advocate for YOUR health. You know your body the best, be mindful of the signals your body gives you daily. For example, I get irritable and sassy if I have not slept well. Some people get headaches when they are stressed.

Time Management: Getting It All Done in the New Year

By Kristen Harris

If you’re anything like me, you’re headed into the new year with big plans and goals, maybe a long list of things you want to accomplish both personally and professionally. Goals are good, but how on earth are we going to get it all done?

Time management is one area where I’m continuously trying to improve. We’re all given the same number of hours in a day so I want to use my allotment wisely.

First, I have to decide what I’m going to spend my time on, and the answer can’t be “everything”.

  • Be Clear on Priorities. I have lots of different interests and new ideas every day (#curseofcreativepeople). I am also fortunate enough to be offered many opportunities, from trips and events to board positions, business connections, and creative projects. While I want to do everything all the time, I know that I just can’t. I’m one person, and being worn out isn’t fun either. Over the holidays I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what is most important to me right now and where I want to spend my time and energy this year. Being clear on priorities helps me decide whether a new idea, opportunity or plan is the right thing for right now. Which leads to...

  • Saying No, or Not Right Now. I’m really working on this one because by nature I’m a “yes” person. I like helping people, I like new opportunities, and I have a lot of different interests. But I’ve realized that I can’t do everything well all at the same time, so right now I’m working on saying “not right now”. Join a new committee? Not right now, but maybe when this current one is done in June. Start a new project? Not right now, ask me again in a few months. Meet up for a coffee chat? Not right now, but let’s schedule a time next week. Stopping to consider whether a new opportunity is something I really want to do and if it fits into my schedule has helped me say yes to lots of things, but not all at the same time.

By knowing my priorities and saying “not right now”, I’ve reduced the number of things I’m trying to fit into my day. From there, I apply a few tools and techniques to manage my time to get the things I’ve said “yes” to.

  • Schedule Meetings. I live by my calendar! While it might seem counterintuitive, scheduling meetings can be a great way to manage your time. I have weekly meetings with people on my team and try to schedule short meetings to discuss issues or solve problems. This saves us both from continuous interruptions or pop-ins and reserves time where we have each other’s undivided attention. If the issue can wait, we save it for our weekly meeting. Of course, anything critical or time-sensitive gets taken care of right away, but you might be surprised how many things can wait a few days. Plus, reducing interruptions increases productivity, so by having meetings I’m actually saving time!

  • Decide What’s Important. I’m a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix. (I’ve used this for years but only recently found out the origin. Apparently, it was a favorite tool of President Dwight Eisenhower...who knew?!) Basically, every task is urgent or not urgent, and important or not important. Something that is urgent and important needs to be done now, and usually always happens. But items that are important but not urgent often don’t get time dedicated to them even though they could be very impactful. Things that are urgent but not important should be delegated to someone else, and just let go of anything that is both not urgent and not important–delete it from your to-do list. Using this system can help identify items that need time scheduled to make sure they happen. Great segue...

  • Schedule Work Time. I am notorious for trying to jam too much into a day. To overcome this, when I have projects that need dedicated time to concentrate (like writing this article), I schedule blocks of time on my calendar. This accomplishes three things: it reserves time to get the work done, other people see it on my calendar and give me space, and it’s a reality check on what I can really get done. Often I start to block time for projects in addition to the meetings I already have scheduled, and suddenly my calendar is full. Or overfull. If there are simply not enough hours in the day or week to accomplish everything I’ve planned, then it’s time to make some decisions. Depending on the situation I might need to shift deadlines, reschedule meetings or change priorities. But at least I’m making these decisions upfront rather than getting to the end of the day having run out of time for an important task or deadline.

    Managing time helps me accomplish what is most important, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more work. Time management means you can work on art projects, go to the gym, spend time with family, take an afternoon nap, go to the park, or start a side hustle. This year, put it on your calendar and get it done!


Setting and Keeping Goals

By Catherine Lang-Cline

It can be a New Year’s Resolution or maybe you heard someone talk and it completely inspired you to make a change. Either way, goals are always made with good intentions, but how do you keep them? Start by figuring out what you want to accomplish, dig deep because it might not be what you think it is on the surface. For example, are you always feeling exhausted? Maybe the answer is not to sleep more. Maybe it’s the food you eat and your goal is to eat better or maybe you just really need a vacation? Do you hate going into work? Is the goal to get a better job or just to resolve some issues? Do you have some achy joints? Maybe it is time to figure out what is going on there?

You have determined the real issue, now let’s discuss keeping your goal on track. These are some things that have worked for me:

  1. The most effective thing that you can do is to tell someone your goal. What is even better, telling many people your goal. Create a group that all share their goals and hold each other accountable. Once it gets out of your head and into a conversation the greater the chance you will have to complete it. You may find that your group can help you with your goal and you can help with theirs.

  2. Find an image of your goal and put it in a place where you can look at it every day. Looking at your goal every day will not only help you visualize the goal, but it makes it feel more comfortable for you, especially if it is a lofty goal. It will be a constant reminder of what you are wanting to achieve. Create an entire dream board of goals! More goals create a better chance of you completing at least one.

  3. Take time out of your week to strategize how you will achieve this goal. Find some quiet time and start to write and research what it will take to make this goal happen. Treat it with the respect it deserves because we all deserve to make great changes.

  4. Add this goal to your calendar. If you are working out, mark out some time for exercise. Block out time for a vacation and plan it. Put into your calendar the time that you are going to call that doctor, purge that closet, or rewrite that resume. Don’t schedule anything for this week or maybe this month. Plan it 2 months out. Why? If you plan it too early, it is easier to make excuses. If you know that it is coming for weeks, you can plan around it and keep your promise to yourself.

Your goals can be personal, professional, lofty, or simple. (Sometimes those simple ones are fun to just check off so we can get addicted to accomplishment.) Whatever you chose to do, take it seriously, come up with a plan, and ask for help if you get stuck. For me, the feeling of getting this done is fantastic and sometimes it can change your life. True story.



Workplace Culture: It's a Reflection of Who You Are

By Kristen Harris 

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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” (or lunch). 

This relatively common quote is often attributed to management guru, Peter Drucker, although it’s not really clear who actually said it. Really, it doesn’t matter who said it first, now people say it all the time. 

But what does it really mean?
What IS culture? 
And why is it so important?

While there are plenty, here is my definition of workplace culture: the set of norms your company and employees live by, otherwise known as “what happens when no one is looking”.

Culture is the standard of how things are done, how people treat customers and each other, the flow and pace of work. It’s all of the tiny (maybe seemingly insignificant) details that all add up to “this is how we do it here”. Culture is not what you do, it’s how you do it.

Every company and workplace has a culture, whether it’s been created intentionally or just happened over time. Cultures can be good, feel good, do good. Or they can be bad, feel bad, turn out bad. And, of course, there’s a lot of grey area in-between. 

In most cases, “good” or “bad” may be a judgment call of whether it feels right to you. If you like a laid-back vibe then a hard-charging, competitive culture won’t feel good. And, vice versa. Each culture may be right for that business, but rest assured that they are all different. Culture is a big part of what differentiates one business from another in the same industry.

Think about your favorite coffee shop. Is it a single location, down a side street, where only locals go? Or is it ultra-hip, in a trendy area, a place to network and be seen? Or is it a ubiquitous chain, found on every corner, consistent and easy to find? Each of these shops has its own culture–from the decor and how you’re greeted to what is offered, how it’s made and delivered to you. The way you feel receiving that coffee shop’s product and service is a reflection of their culture. And you probably feel more at home in one over the other. 

Culture reflects company values–what’s important to the people working there–and influences every part of your interaction. Which makes us feel more at home in one place over another.

At Portfolio Creative our culture has always been very important. Catherine and I set out to create the type of company where we’d want to work; we figured if it’s the kind of place we want to be, then our clients, talent and team members would too.

Here’s a taste of our culture:

  • Fun – If we’re not having fun then we’re not doing it right! There’s a lot of laughter throughout the workday, even in meetings (yes, we’ve proven even meetings can be fun).

  • Friendly – We smile, say “Hi”, ask how you’re doing and actually listen to your answer. We act nice because we are nice.

  • Caring – We genuinely like each other, our clients, our talent, and all the other people we get to work with. When you really care, it shows.

  • Helpful – It’s our job to help people; we’re problem-solvers for our clients, talent and each other. If we can’t solve the problem, we try to share ideas or provide resources; no one walks away empty-handed.

Culture isn’t about what you do–it’s how you do it and who you are. How everyone in the company behaves every day, even when no one’s looking. Especially when no one’s looking. 

Our Portfolio Creative culture reflects the values we live by every day. Want to see how it feels to work with people who are fun, friendly and caring? Reach out to let us know how we can help; you won’t leave empty-handed.

Working with Mental Illness

By Annie Doherty

Working with mental illness is not always easy. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed, let alone look presentable and make it into the office where I have to interact with other people. Other times, my anxiety is so high I’m just waiting for some little thing to tip me over the edge into full-fledged panic. What I’ve learned, however, is that I need the structure of a job, going to a workplace, and the forced interaction with people. I recently got a new job and took two weeks off to work on some personal projects and relax before stepping into a new work environment. During those two weeks, the lack of structure was awful. It was incredibly difficult to get motivated to do anything and I began to be afraid to leave the house. 


    Having a job helps keep me strong in my fight against my brain. In one sense, it’s like I’m exercising those mental muscles that I need to help keep me functioning on a normal scale. If I don’t use them, they get weak and don’t always work the way I need them to. I need my brain to be actively diligent, aware of triggers and mood changes so that I can be prepared to react the best way possible. 


    I do have safeguards for when and if I feel the winds shifting in my brain. I have an arsenal of essential oils at my desk and in my purse for when my anxiety starts to spike. Whether or not the oils are really doing anything (because I know people love to argue both sides), the simple act of stopping what I’m doing and pausing to smell and apply them helps shift my brain’s focus. 


I’ve also been lucky to create friendships everywhere I’ve worked with people I’ve felt comfortable enough to share my story. Because of this, I’ve been able to have a support system at work. Simply telling a coworker that I’m high anxiety or struggling with a strong wave of depression can help keep things at bay. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more honest with my bosses.  I’ve been fortunate to work on teams and have bosses that are understanding. I’m also a firm believer in mental health days - because just like when you have a cold, sometimes you need to stay home when you don’t have any strength to get out of bed. 

Recovery

By Annie Doherty

My experience with mental health has been full of ups and downs. It took years to come to terms with the fact that there is something wrong with my brain chemistry, and not something inherently wrong with me. It also took a lot of work for me to be able to talk about these things openly without embarrassment or shame, but not without hitting rock bottom first. Because I felt like I couldn’t talk about what was going on in my brain, I reached a severe breaking point that landed me in the psychiatric ward after attempting to end my life. Because of this, I had no choice but to face my illness head-on.


I spent a considerable amount of time in therapy the year following my hospital stay. At first, it was two or three times a week, until I felt stable enough to move to once a week. I played with different dosages and types of medications for months, seeking something that could help me catch a breath from the crushing weight of emptiness living inside of me. My parents welcomed me back into their home, which provided a safety net and support system. A lot of my days were spent quietly watching our dogs play in the backyard as I sat wondering what life was going to be like now that the secret was out about what was going on in my brain. 
It’s been almost five years since I hit that lowest point of my life. I’ve come away from that experience realizing that recovery is a lifelong process that looks different for everyone who goes through it. Living with mental illness is a constant battle. Some days are great and require little effort, but other days still take every amount of strength I can muster up to remind myself that I will get through it, this isn’t how it will be forever, and there is something wrong with my brain chemistry causing me to feel this way. It hasn’t been easy, but the more I learn about myself, the better equipped I am to face those bad days.


One thing I’ve learned through all of this is that everyone has a different experience and there is no shame if something works for you that doesn’t work for someone else. Medication, therapy, diet changes, exercise, natural remedies, meditation, having a support system - I’ve seen all of these be helpful to different people at different times. Medication was something I only needed for a short period of time to help me get back on my feet with regard to my depression, but I still have medication for acute anxiety attacks. Therapy has proven to be my greatest aid, but my frequency changes as the ups and downs of my mental health change. It can get expensive, but it has been the investment in myself is worth every penny.  Being open with those around you and creating a support system is a huge help as well. Some people could not handle knowing all the things going on in my brain, but I have been lucky to have a handful of friends and family that are capable of providing love, support, and kindness when I have needed it most. 
 

What Does it Look Like

By Kristen Taylor 

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She asks. A stranger, at this point, since I was initially skeptical about therapy. It is a question dipped in concise innocence that cut so deeply into my vision of anxiety that I felt foolish that I hadn’t thought of such a simple phrase years ago. I spent so much time defining my anxiety, naming it, feeding it and letting it grow into a viable character in my life. I give it a space in my home and it sits next to me while I try to manage a cluster of tasks. It is the monster that lives inside of me. It sticks me into two corners of past and future distracting me from the present moment. The monster creates “to-do” lists and completion checks. Then it slides me into depression like the ocean waves hitting the sand it curls around me as I distantly get caught up in my own thoughts and worries. Everything becomes a reminder of the future – the things I should be doing- the mother, woman, and human that I should be. It reminds me, with past failure to shape my perspective on the future. It is downright exhausting to be in my head some days, making it impossible to visualize a life where the character called anxiety was not the constant antagonist. 


It seems easy enough, right. Create an altered narrative to this story. That phrase will echo over and over, what does it look like? What does a life of minimized anxiety feel like? My answer lately has been this: balanced. I was too afraid to admit what the unbalance looked like until I was laying on my kitchen floor gasping for my breath. I was unhappy in a job that was as equally demanding as figuring out how to be the mother of four. My phone chimed a meeting as I was putting away the dinner dishes and starting the bedtime process. I was going through motions of motherhood, as most of me was still sitting at my desk waiting for management to notice how much I had been slipping lately. I knew that meeting wasn’t exactly the promotion my stack of bills from another childbirth and partially unpaid maternity leave needed, for or the reduction of workload I had indicated in my secret meeting with HR. My work life was like the game of Jenga we played as an exercise in team building. I was the tower, and little by little pieces were being removed. I was toppling and they kept pushing pieces out. Some days it was the workload, or the declining relationships with management and almost always the craving to be present in that photo my husband sent of my children running around the zoo. Everything led up to this, the unbalance in my home life and the stress in my workload. I simply couldn’t handle it anymore; I lost my balance and fell. 

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It is a year and a half later. I am still picking myself off my kitchen floor. I always thought a breakthrough in managing my anxiety would be a sudden burst of clarity; as if the monster would just disappear the way they do in fairy tales. But balance, as I learned by practicing yoga, is built slowly and with focus. I am sitting outside on my patio surrounded by all the sounds of early summer – the soundtrack of birds with a baseline of a distant train and the vocals of neighborhood children. I am appreciative of this moment, it is one of the moments that I craved when sitting in a windowless cubicle. I get my work done in the morning. I tend to my favorite hobby, writing. I am hopeful for a sunset run. I focus on the good things of getting two toddlers to sleep, like tiny kisses and little hands holding my arm for comfort. Then, I can enjoy a glass of wine and finally start season 2 of the Handmaid’s tale. This is what a good tonight looks like. 


The day after I lost my job, I made my mental health a priority. I would never be useful in any job or relationship if was charged by the electricity of anxiety. I started a running routine. My brain is a full bottle of champagne just waiting to be corked and running allows me to pop the cork, no one else. I need an appointment with my own thoughts, but they were so busy they couldn’t fit me in. So it got clogged. I made mistakes, first little ones then much larger ones. Or was it a lot of little ones that made me look like one big failure? Either way, I didn’t have time to organize my (many) thoughts. And the cork blew on me. With running, I am alone in my head, letting it all go. All those analyses, those worries, the funny musings and the downright cliché; it all piled on top of each other, like the laundry I don’t have time to sort. This wasn’t just about something that happened last year or recently; this is a lifetime of bubbling anxiety. I need to get healthy and create my balance. What does that balance look like? A goal of four runs a week that resets every Sunday but understands when things get just so chaotic that routines are broken. It gave me bonus friendship for added accountability that rewards me with mini therapy sessions and sweaty hugs. It gave me legs that could stand an eight-hour bartending shift so that I wouldn’t have to feel financially guilty if I didn’t work a full-time office job any longer. 

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I am starting to accept my anxiety in all its various forms. It can be a burst of negative thoughts that isolate me to my home. It can be a fight with my husband that scares me into words I would rather not say. It is a pouring out of frustration over two toddlers that never seem to listen. It is a bad tip on a large check or a spreadsheet that doesn’t quite tie. It is a deadline that I didn’t plan adequately to meet or a phone call I dread making. It is finally getting the courage to open my credit card statement or asking my mom for help. I have come to know what anxiety looks like. With each of these toxic moments, I am trying to learn and find something pull me off of the floor, the balance I need to stand tall.  It can be a run or a yoga class. It is a long phone call with a good friend. It is actually getting time to hang out with my sister. It is a road trip, with my husband driving and Band of Horses playing. It is how happy my children get when we visit their grandparents. It is Friday night wine and watching true crime stories with my neighbor. It is listening to my favorite podcast “Beautiful Anonymous”, loudly and verbally agreeing with the caller as I clean an empty bar. It is the beautiful shade of dark blue that I painted my bedroom walls. It is the proud little smile I get when someone tells me I am actually a good accountant, or bartender, or Mom. It is an unexpected gift. It is reading a book that I can’t put down. It is writing a verbally eloquent essay. It is random and adolescent conversations with my teenage daughters. It is quoting every line of Spaceballs and still thinking it is the funniest movie ever made. It is realizing the little moments that make me happy, embracing them and using their light to keep the dark monsters quiet. At least that is what balance is starting to look like for me. 
 

To read more of Kristen's writing, check out her blog cassidymarierose.com

Stigma

By Annie Doherty

I’ve sought acceptance my entire life - acceptance from my family, my friends, coworkers, strangers, husband, myself. I’ve sought acceptance to such a degree that I allowed myself to become whatever anyone wanted. I shut down every true part of my being to morph into what was desired by those around me. I’ve gone from praying that I would be bipolar to fit in with all the men in my family, to turning off every true feeling and emotion because it was what someone wanted. I never liked who I was in those times, but if it got some semblance of love and acceptance, I would allow it. 

    I no longer turn off all my emotions. I no longer wish to be bipolar. I am, however, someone who struggles with depression. When I finally admitted my struggle, to even just myself, it broke open a dam that I had hardly realized I built. I lived within the walls of my own interior castle; I locked everyone out, even myself.

I often wondered why I could accept the illnesses of others but refused to allow myself to accept my own. The more I think about it, the more I realize it’s because I had been met with so many combative or uninformed opinions regarding mental illness. I fought hard for people to understand bipolar disorder was not something you could just turn on or off. People were uncomfortable hearing about someone being so depressed that they wished to stop waking up. I knew I was depressed, but I didn’t want people to tell me just to be happy or pray more and everything would get better. So, I held everything inside for as long as I could.

I avoided eye contact. I shifted my stance, bent my legs and rubbed my arms. I stumbled over my words. I tried to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. I tried to shrug off any level of seriousness. I laughed awkwardly. I felt shame in telling someone that I struggled with depression. I felt shame admitting there lived within me a dark monster that consumed any hope of joy and shattered any desire to face the next day. I felt shame confessing the very truth of my sad soul that I had tried for years to cover up, tried to ignore, tried to bury somewhere so deep within myself that I couldn’t remember where it lived. I didn’t like how they would look at me once they knew I wasn’t normal.

In the summer of 2013, I made a suicide attempt and spent nine days in the psychiatric ward. I was surrounded by people suffering from similar mental states, some better, some far worse. It was the safest I have ever felt in disclosing the truth about how I was doing. I have never been so brutally honest with myself, or others, then when I was in the hospital. There was no judgment, only the truth. There was no stigma. The moment I left the hospital, I felt myself start to hide the truth again. Despite having exposed the depression I had been dealing with for years, I still did not feel comfortable discussing my illness. The first few months out of the hospital, I wanted to go back. I didn’t enjoy the looks I was getting from friends who didn’t understand what was going on with me. 

When I finally was able to be comfortable in my own skin and realize that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, I didn’t feel the desire to go back to the hospital. I no longer put a stigma on myself. I talked, and still talk, openly about things I’ve gone through. I’ve seen how honesty can both help people open up and how it can cause them to shy away from me. 
Now that everything has been exposed to my family and friends, I can’t avoid my darkness anymore. I’ve accepted it. I ache for people around me to understand the complexities of mental illness so that those who have them don’t feel like they need to hide it or feel ashamed. Mental illnesses are real and should not be met with whispers and side looks and shame. Depression may always be a part of my life, but it does not define who I am. These are things that need to be spoken about, written about so that this stigma that has been attached to mental illness can be put away. 

Is This Just A Funk I’m In Or Is It Something More?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Let me start by stating the obvious, I am not a doctor, nor a professional in the area of mental health, but what I do know, like most people, how great it is to be healthy, both physically and mentally.

When you are an entrepreneur, your mind is a constantly whirling. I swear that when it is really quiet, I can hear it hum in perfectly balanced chaos, but we are people and people develop issues and things occur that break up that normal cadence. Those things can take the shape of stress, depression, and/or substance dependence, to name a few. What do you do?

Some of the things that an entrepreneur can encounter are:

  • Employee issues - a team that doesn’t work together, counter-productive employee, maybe someone is embezzling,

  • Client issues - clients demand more, treat you poorly, leave for a cheaper company,

  • Funding issues - a client won’t pay, a bank won’t loan you money,

  • Personal issues - problems with children or relatives, problems with your home, Illness or death of a loved one.

These issues, on top of what you work with day-to-day, can put you in a tailspin. You find yourself feeling like you are living in a hole, or underwater and hoping to come up for air. You get down on yourself or you are finding yourself angry all of the time. What can you do?

First ask yourself:

  • “Can I solve or work through these problems on my own?”

  • “Can I talk to a mentor about my concerns?”

  • “Do I need to see a professional?”

Most of us deal with challenges and mental fatigue that starts to eat away at our quality of life. It can come on you like a heart attack, either building up over time or it will just hit you hard all at once. You find yourself stressed, crying, or throwing something across the room. It is common and it does not mean that you are weak or flawed. Keeping our minds healthy is as important as keeping our body healthy. You ate well today, what did you do for your mind?

Let’s start with:

Solving your problem on your own:

Can you do something to clear your head? Vigorous exercise, take a walk, meditate, get a massage, or just step away for a bit. Indulge in yourself. Dig more into a passion you might have, something completely different! Sometimes recalibration can be that easy.

Talking to someone else:

Grabbing a drink with your crew can bring relief and talking to a family member or mentor can also help for some quick problem solving, especially the people that have lived through what you are going through right now. I promise you, someone else has had the same struggle as you, find that person.

But if you have tried these things and you are really struggling or the problem seems bigger than you are, make an appointment with a professional. A professional can be anyone that specializes in that finance issue you have to a therapist that can help you unwind your issue. Computers need to be rebooted and so do you. Sometimes getting back to mental health is not just about relaxing, it is about fixing. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed or in asking for help. You are not always in control of what life throws at you, it is just knowing when you have hit your limit and need to contact the pro.

Just a brief comment about mental illness. Mental illness is vast and wide in its scope and its impact. It needs to be treated like any other issue with the body and not carry a stigma. There are many programs in place to get you or a loved ones help. Still not sure if you need help? Read some of the warning signs listed at the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ website. Need even more help, reach out to the national organization of Mental Health of America. 1 out of 5 Americans have a life-altering mental illness or have experienced a mental crisis. You are not alone. #CureStigma

Of course if you or someone you know is in an emergency situation, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. Hang in there. Get help. It gets better.

For those of us that just know that we are in a “funk”, don’t neglect any part of you. If a run or bike ride can truly clear your head, do it. Maybe you need as much as a two week vacation? Keep working on fine-tuning you. Not only are you worth it, but your friends, family, and co-workers will thank you.