You wouldn’t want to know how many times I have attempted to write since November of 2016.
The last thing I wrote for my site before this was a pretty joyous post about what has happened in my life. I was reveling in the incredible positivity of my personal life, my professional career, and my own interests. And for all intents and purposes, things are still grand. My fiancé and I march ever closer to our wedding day and we continue to create the memories of our lives. Recently we spent a weekend in New York City and saw my favorite band of all time, AFI, play at Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen. It was a great evening for us both. I had seen them dozens of times and even played with them once while this was her first time seeing them live. Walking back to our hotel in lower Manhattan in the cold, winter night had some bit of excitement spark in my chest. I live for these kinds of feelings; those nights.
As I stated, things for me in my relationships are great yet a growing feeling of uncertainty and confusion has surrounded me again. What could it be this time? Lack of medication and therapy for my mental illness? Most definitely…but it’s hard to maintain a routine of seeing a therapist when you have a demanding work schedule, a round trip of 126 miles a day, and the domestic tasks of owning a home. I wonder how I will manage this all when children come into the picture. While the immediate and definite causes of my mental fugue are due to lack of medication and consistent talk therapy…I believe there is another issue at play. Something that I feel passionately about, but have done nothing with my skills to serve is something I have already mentioned: mental health.
Even when I was on a consistent regimen of medication and routine therapy, I felt that my role as a designer was lacking. I felt as if I wasn’t being able to use my abilities for something I believed in more…something that I feel I can uniquely and innately make an impact on. Over a year ago, I wrote a very revealing piece about being a designer suffering from depression, anxiety, and bi-polar. To my surprise, it became one of my most popular and resonating articles I ever wrote. What started out as a cathartic confession of how I felt ended up helping me and many others come to terms and seek help with their own mental health issues. I was actually inspired to write about my mental health because of reading a series of articles on The Art of Manliness blog called “Leashing the Black Dog, My Struggle with Depression”. Reading that series helped me a great deal. When I wrote my own post about mental Illness it was one of the most incredibly difficult things to do. I felt as if I was giving up a part of myself to ridicule and allow to wither me from within. Truthfully, I felt the weight and fear of putting myself out there for others to learn. After I saw my inbox fill up with emails from people in and out of the design community share their own experiences and feelings, I actually felt a bit empowered in thinking that just my sharing of my own experience has been helpful…so maybe I can do more.
A designer’s role is to create change. Whatever that change is, it doesn’t matter, but ultimately their work should motivate some action, some feeling to think or act differently. I look at the advertising world and see the change being connected with an audience to sell more stuff. I see in-house teams catering to their audiences for greater involvement and the ever march forward on their beliefs. I see academia trying to sell more (in this case, an education). And I see startups trying to change the world through innovation and disruption…with the designer’s role being to visually, culturally, and functionally shape that future.
Me…I want to help others who suffer like me.
I’m no social justice warrior, that’s for sure. I personally think most bullhorn groups and personalities on diversity and inclusion do just the opposite of what they intend for their outcomes; they become closed off and exclusionary. For me, I think about what can I focus on that affects everyone…regardless of age, color, gender, or creed. For me, mental health is the answer. So that is where I want to focus my attention on as a designer. I want to help support those suffering like I do. I want to help make mental health stigma a thing of the past and I want to make it recognized just as important and no different from physical ailments. When someone is a Type 1 Diabetic, there is no stigma but if you are Bi-Polar…there is an incredible stigma. So I ask myself…what can I do as a designer to help those with mental illness and how can I help to change the public mindset about mental health?
Honestly, at this point….I don’t know. Maybe I can create a product or service that fills a gap? Maybe I create a Patch Adams style approach to open and free treatment just for mental health. Maybe there is an organization that I can volunteer or work for that wants the same things as I do in this area. I honestly don’t know how or what….but I do know I need to do something.
I feel like I am having an emerging clarity at this time. The last few months have been great, busy and nuts, but very rewarding. My relationships have gotten closer. I have been more honest with myself and others than I ever have been. And even while I can’t explain to others the why and how I sometimes come to conclusions or ideas eloquently, I feel like I am making progress. The fear that my life has been gripped in the past feels like it’s been slowly letting up as I get older and feel most comfortable and confident with who I am. I consider myself extremely lucky for feeling that way.
While I may have my own personal projects and hobbies to attend to (RPG’s and brewing), I want to focus on something that can truly help others. So I am going to spend time on this and I welcome any advice, mentorship, direction and opportunities where I can begin to help others. Through design and my personal life, if I can help others like me, I want to spend time on that and do it.
So contact me, help me discover how I can help.