• Gary Clarke

Mental (Health) Maths

Mental health is almost an area of expertise for me, god knows I've struggled with my own for most of my life. The one thing that frustrates me most when it comes to others perceptions of mental health is how they want to simplify it down to simple numbers or sterile facts.

"why are you feeling low,? You don't have it as bad as others" or "But [this] has just happened, why aren't you happy about it?" I hear comments like this so often that I swear if I put my mind to it I could write a coffee table book about them. they are comments that are meant to help, but that instead make things worse. The brain, well mine at least, runs off a bit more than positive and negative balance. If it did I should be the happiest person on the planet right now.


Well, after a year of looking, debating, second-guessing and finally applying - I've been accepted on my dream masters degree. Sounds good, right? I should be a ball of pure happiness, right? Well, not so much.

Despite the fact I am in touching distance of finally getting onto my ideal career path, I'm in a state of lost melancholia, for reasons that others see as strange when compared to my latest piece of news. Essentially, I'm having a tough time at work.

Why am I having a tough time at work? Well, there are plenty of reasons: The company is going through a lot of change and everything's up in the air, my workload has ramped up massively in recent months because of a supervisor leaving, and of course, there's the eternal fight of creativity vs capitalism. If we add into this mix a few toxic colleagues and some less than stellar management, we end up with my current situation. I took this job with the wish to just write and do my thang, but now writing is about 30% of my job with the rest being fighting fires and doing jobs that are by rights not in my job description and definitely not in my skill set.

Now, I get it. Work isn't fun for a lot of people, and these are issues faced by thousands of people every day with no ill effects on their mental health, but as I said earlier, I have an unstable relationship with my head. The effect of all this stuff happening at once has been a steady domino effect into unhappiness.

In the immortalish words of Yoda :

Stress is the path to low self-esteem. Stress leads to rushing, rushing leads to mistakes, mistakes lead to self-loathing. and the cycle goes on Ad nauseam until you burn out.

Now, whilst I'm not in a state of pure burnout I'm certainly at the threshold and work is following me home, I've lost faith in my ability to the point where I can barely function at work. In the past few weeks, I've made silly mistakes and missed obvious things. Some of it is due to my learning and doing some of this stuff for the first time, but in general, I feel a tad useless.

This should be a time of excitement for me, I'm going in the right direction, and now is the perfect time for me to pivot in my career, but the underlying sense of self-loathing tinges all the happiness I should be feeling with despair - despite what the " maths" might suggest I'm unhappy, and only time will cure that.

I'm lucky in some ways that I do have a support network to help me through this. I've had to take a step back from responsibility at work, but colleagues have stepped in marvellously to take the strain from me until I am in a position to once again step up, take control of my workload and get on top of things again. Writing is also a huge help, and this post alone is a therapy piece more than anything. My internal equilibrium will re-balance itself soon, and when it does I'll be slightly stronger than I was before but until then I just need to ignore the maths and keep at my own pace

Main Image courtesy of Mohit Tomar via Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

#Lifestory #MentalHealth #Experience #Learning