Today I want to touch upon a subject that many of us suffer from: mental illness. It’s become a barrier for those I help in my business and it’s disheartening to see some colleagues have given up because they had a label and created their own self doubt. But I have a secret.
I suffer from it too. After all, most writers do.
I went into a post about it last year, but feel so strongly about continuing even at your lowest that I want to discuss this again. There are ways to combat this and get some productivity out of your day. So this article is going to talk about how to know when you need a mental health day or when you can use your illness to your advantage.
Stop focusing on the label and focus on the “positive” side of it.
Seriously, this one will eliminate 99.9% of the doubt in your mind. I’ve seen plenty of people on the autistic spectrum lead somewhat normal lives. Those with bipolar like myself work jobs, even through episodes. It can be scary if you know someone with any kind of mental illness.
However, there are positives to each illness, even if they’re not physical.
Those who discover they have a condition immediately limit themselves and do not see the potential. However, some your favorite celebrities have conditions and yet are iconic. Examples of actors who have bipolar are Robin Williams (may he rest in peace) and Jim Carrey. Yet even riddled with these problems, they became two prolific actors who thought outside the box.
Now, it’s your turn to do the same.
When you’ve got the drive and energy, DO IT.
Speaking from experience, whenever I’m manic, I have the drive to get stuff done. I may be up for 36 hours and may have that sudden creative drive to get something on paper. The last episode lasted a few weeks with bouncing back and forth. But that is the time where you can knock out big projects if you remain focused.
If you know it won’t last, make a plan while you’re still thinking clearly. (I do not encourage people to make a suicide plan—if you’re thinking that, seek professional help.) Even outlining what you need to do will remind you where you left off before your ideas disappear.
Research about your illness and make a list of pros and cons to use in your work strategy.
There is a book that I read once a year called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast & John D Preston. This book is meant for couples but can be used for individuals as well. This book was very informative when I decided to go into business and see the barriers I needed to overcome. At the time I was with someone, but that has since changed.
The point is that you can find things positive and negative in your condition and figure out how to work in each of these aspects. Knowing about your condition is half the battle—what you do afterward is the other 50%.
Look for signs that you aren’t yourself.
Deep down, everyone knows when they’re not themselves and most of us don’t want to worry our friends and family. But they will often see the change in behavior before you do.
In any profession, it’s important to partake in an action plan in case something happens to you. If you’re hospitalized, you’ll need someone you trust to help with your finances for a time.
The same will go for your client load if something suddenly happens. Now, I know one colleague who has worked while hospitalized, but that was not for mental illness. It is impossible to do with inpatient because you are not allowed computers and cell phones in the treatment facility. So always have a backup person when you feel you can’t do things for a while. This way, your clients will still get services while you’re working to get yourself better.
When things get a little stressed or overworked, it’s time to take a mental health day.
Many of my clients run their own businesses, including myself. This means we may not get the ideal time off we want, such as “every weekend and shut down shop at 5 pm”. Many think that this is how small businesses work but we are working longer, doing things most potential clients don’t see.
Psst…we’re also working on our own projects. You know, those books you enjoy reading? Yeah, I’m working on those, too.
Look at your favorite people and see how they combat their barriers.
For me, seeing others I know with the same problems I do (anxiety and bipolar) really helped me create a support system I can go to when I’m overwhelmed. Others work on projects and hobbies. Someone else may write or may create something.
It’s up to you to find how to do deal with those barriers and overcome them.
Are you someone who combats a mental illness while working your own business? If so, what tips do you have so others can learn from your experience?0