As many of you already know I suffer from mental illness, one that allows me to be a semi-functioning human being…most of the time. There are weeks where I feel completely fine, I’m productive, not as moody, able to handle things that come my way. Then, there are other weeks…weeks where I am angry, irritable, tired, and feel like staying in bed all day.
Success does not happen in spite of mental illness, for many of us it happens with it, sometimes because of it. Last month I felt happy and focused, working around 25 hours a week with good pay. This allowed me to write, blog and network for about 20 hours a week at home. I felt totally balanced. A week ago my brain betrayed me and I became convinced that I needed more; more money, more things, more education, that I could now pay for with all of my extra money. That week I worked 65 hours, felt exhausted, stressed, miserable and didn’t write anything.
With Alexis Ohanian talking about hustle porn (entrepreneurs telling everyone the key is to work more and sleep less) I felt a great sense of admiration for his views. First, because for some of us with mental illness this philosophy works, we are full of energy, vision and ideas; and for the rest of us sacrificing sleep and self-care makes our illness unmanageable.
Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy, is a prime example of the fact that having a mental illness does not mean sacrificing success. If you’ve read her book you also know she practices self-care, admits fully to the often dysfunctional aspects of illness and uses a lot of humour to work through it. She openly admits to taking five years to write the book, something that a lot of us can relate too. Creativity can come with stereotypes, like having a mental illness, being an alcoholic and being a hopeless romantic. Call me a blazing torch of stereotypical representation by checking off every damn box.
In the age of “The Hustle” it’s easy to get lost in it all, as you hear messages of 100-hour work weeks and tales of sleep deprived break throughs. It’s easy to feel self-conscious about the work that you’re doing. It’s easy to feel as though the hours you put in, the work that you’re doing will never be enough, how could it be? When you come at it from the perspective of “out working everyone around you”, you will always be running.
My perspective today, is quite simple but does take some effort to master. Find a good balance between the work that you do and the rest of your life. Put in the hours that feel comfortable, manageable, productive. Keep up with the trends if you feel so inclined, read the stories, look at the LinkedIn profiles for the sake of networking. As for all the rest, forget about it. Forget what Margaret is doing with her novel, or what Peter is doing with his blog. Focus on you, on what you’re doing and on doing it well. Hell, if any part of what I’ve just said doesn’t feel right to you…change it. Its your life; you’ve got to live with it.
Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s a necessary management system. Losing to our mental illness in order to “win” isn’t the answer, it will never be the answer.
Love to you all,