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Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

Mental health is a taboo topic because it’s a shameful topic. There’s a theory we all have it together, but here’s the truth:

No one has it together.

Your favorite blogger, singer, actress, celebrity don’t have it together.

Your favorite moguls? Nope, they don’t have it together either.

It doesn’t matter what you read on the blogs. It’s perfectly crafted for the reader as an illusion (for example, I have started this post over 5 times to make it my best).

It doesn’t matter how pretty the photos are on Instagram. They are staged. They are thought out, cropped, and filtered.

Whatever is tweeted? Most likely a front of sorts.

So, dear reader, no one has it together all the time as you think.

And yet, with the age of being “more visible” online, we start comparing ourselves to these people with the perfect Instagram feed and strategic blog posts.

“They’re life is so perfect!”

“They’re always so happy!”

How very untrue.

A lot of us worry about not being good enough. Anxiety is high before that big launch. When something doesn’t work out, we all feel gutted.

On most levels, this is normal. On most levels, it’s a brief period of time until we pick ourselves up and try again.

But for some of us, it goes beyond the normal. It’s one of the major obstacles we face in our lives.

The worry and anxiety turn into full-blown attacks. The gutted feeling can trigger deep depression.

It has for me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dealt with some sort of mental illness. I think I was nine when I was incredibly sad and couldn’t explain why. Cracking jokes in front of people was a front but felt alone most of the time, especially by myself.

When I grew older, this feeling stuck and I thought it was normal.

It’s normal to not feel enough. Being mediocre about life is what everyone else fills.

So I dealt with my normal. I couldn’t understand why other people were SO happy all the time. That connection wasn’t there. I thought maybe joining the church would give me a new outlook, so I got involved in college. It was fine for a while, but I found myself falling back into that funk.

Words like “Depression” and “anxiety” were foreign to me, especially because Christian communities really shied away from any talk of that.  When I realized what it could be, scared me. I thought I was a big disappointment for not beating it. I thought I was on my way to hell.

When I started FIVE12 STUDIO (then CNICOLE PHOTODESIGN) I wanted to be like the cool bloggers and designers I knew. I also thought it was a good way to bridge the gap between school and first-time employment.

And while I was ambitious, a lot of doubt came into mind.

“You can’t do this. No one will understand it. Who would hire you, honestly?”

So I pushed the launch date a few months before I gave in.

Eventually, I went with it. People were proud, I was proud, and thought, “hey maybe I can do this forever!” But when changes happened, or I wanted to grow bigger, the anxiety and depression came back. I’ve psyched myself out of launches, postponed projects because I gave into the, “I can’t do this.”

And at the time, blogging and social media weren’t a huge platform. Twitter, for example, was barely off the ground (I’ll spare you the, “back in my day” stories).

Through talk about self-care and mental awareness, I’m able to identify my depression and anxiety. I’m looking forward to the day I can talk to someone to get it sorted out and not have it consume me as much. There are days I’m good, but there are days I’m not. Some bad days caused by triggers, other days it’s out of the blue.

If you’re someone who calls yourself a creative person and struggles to balance your mental health, there are ways to protect yourself.

Unfollow people you’re envious of.

Why have a constant reminder you’re not them? It’s a distraction that will block you from flourishing to being the best version of you.

Make numbers your friend.

Reading about someone else’s 100,000 page views and while you have 100 can bum you out. Think about it like this instead: 100 people viewed your page. 100 people decided to click on your link and read what you had to say because they like what you had to write.

Remove the word “only” from your vocabulary.

“Only 5 people bought my product.” No, 5 people brought your product. You made 5 people’s day with something you created!

Take a break from the online world.

Sometimes you need a good nap, movie, or breeze. With the Internet at our fingertips, it can be hard, but it’s worth it. It can be for 30 minutes or a week, but take a break anyway and just be.

Break rules you don’t want to follow.

So many of my online friends use periscope and write about why I should be using it. Honestly, speaking in front of people gives me the frights. Until I work on it, I’m not using Periscope and THAT’S OK.

Remember your why.

My vision and mission statements go beyond business- it helps center why I’m running a blog and providing services in the first place. It keeps me aligned with why I use my voice.

Most importantly, realize you’re not alone.

I’ve dubbed Fran of Hey Fran Hey my lifestyle and mental health guru because she always has the right advice at the right time about taking care of you first. She helped re-introduce me to meditation that I’m trying to put into rotation.

I read Wit and Delight’s posts because she’s open and honest about her combating mental illness. Yes, her blog and feed are beautifully curated, but it’s always the posts about mental health that really get me. I remember she’s human first, and it helps me calm down.

Being a creative person and maintaining your mental health can be a battle. Some days you’re fine, but depending on how tough that battle is, giving up is easier than fighting through it.

Creative and mental health are two interesting matches I’ve found.

The one thing we can identify with can drive us crazy.

But also…

The one thing we identify with can also save us.