Why Losing My Job and Writing a Children’s Book Was the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me
I have struggled with depression for over a decade now. It’s a pervasive illness that creeps in and suffocates your life. I never realised how badly I had let my depression cloud all aspects of my life, especially my behaviour, until I lost my job. I built all of my fragile sense of self-esteem on a foundation of sand that was my career. I was worth something because of my job, because of my achievements and because of my title. When all of that went away in the blink of an eye it was like the world had chewed me up and spit me out.
For me, facing my depression has been a journey of getting to know myself. I have learnt about the things I do and the things I think that lead me down the dark path. I have learnt about triggers and self-compassion and toxic thinking. I have come to understand just how broken I truly am but in doing so I am finding the strength I never knew I had. It’s a different kind of strength than I am used to. My strength is not forceful or powerful as I used to believe it needed to be for me to make my way in the world. It is a gentle, patient and kind strength, like the arms of a parent collecting me after each fall and setting me back on my feet to go again.
A huge part of my journey has been about realising that the way we think about mental health is very often wrong. I used to see mental health problems as something to ‘fix’ and, like many people, I waited until I was in absolute crisis to try and do anything about it. I wanted my therapist to give me the answers, the plan, the solution so I could implement it and get on with living my life. In reality mental health is a lot more like physical health. It’s something that is affected by the decisions we make every day. It must be thought about, nurtured and exercised for the rest of our lives if we want to take good care of ourselves.
After my job I fully intended to go back out looking for freelance work, but I ended up creating You and Blue, a community that brings forth kindness and compassion through meaningful products. Through this platform I wrote and illustrated a children’s book. Harriet and the Blue Monkey is a book all about dealing with sad feelings that can lead to depression. It was borne out of a desire to try and help the next generation to avoid feeling the way I did, but grew into a tool to help children to recognise and understand mental health problems in both themselves and others. I truly believe that good habits like communication and self-compassion are crucial to maintaining good mental health and the earlier we can instill these in our children the more resilient they might become. I also created a line of mental health greeting cards. These cards are based on my own experiences to help people be there for someone they care about even when they’re not exactly sure what to say.
Mental health is something I think our society still struggles to understand, but we are finally talking about it. I love that my book can play a small part in furthering that conversation. I hope that as our collective understanding of the subject grows we can all find that gentle, patient and kind inner strength to help pick us up when we fall and set us back on our feet to go again.
Check out You and Blue @ www.youandblue.co/uk
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