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Balancing mental health and business

Kathryn Vercillo, Create Me Free

"I absolutely wish that I had known more about mental health and wellness, which is the entire reason that I started the form of the business that I’ve started now.

When I first started, I did freelance writing work generally in this area of study. However, I didn't understand my own mental health or the complex relationship between art and wellness. Mental health symptoms (including those related to stress, burnout, etc.) impact our creative work and business abilities in a variety of different ways.

As a result, sometimes the traditional or advised way of doing things doesn't work for us. That doesn't make us wrong or bad or incapable or incompetent or "not enough." Instead, it offers an opportunity to put our creativity to use in our own work by shaping the job to magnify our strengths and mitigate our challenges.

For example, I struggle with recurring chronic depression. Symptoms that deeply affect my ability to work include fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and a sense that doing the work is pointless. As a new businessperson, I would simply try to fight through those feelings, which inevitably failed. This created a terrible cycle where the depression got worse, which made the work harder, which made the depression worse, and so on. Eventually, I learned how to work with my symptoms as a strength.

Sometimes this is as simple as accepting that I'm too tired to do productive work, taking an afternoon nap, and giving myself grace about that. Sometimes it's about using techniques and tools that strengthen my sense of self so that I don't spiral into thoughts of worthlessness. For example, I keep a "success" file of all the projects I've done that I'm proud of and review it when I'm feeling incapable.

Working with other artists and doing deep research, I've learned how symptoms of OCD, PTS, burnout, anxiety, mania, and other conditions may manifest in ways that support or detract from the ability to create (art and business).

I am passionate about helping artists find the ways of working that best support their holistic well-being. I wish I had known this sooner! However, life experience is what brought me to this understanding, and there's no substitute for that."

Advice Contributor

Kathryn Vercillo

Kathryn started her business, Create Me Free, to inform, inspire, and empower artists toward holistic success using her master’s degree in psychology and extensive research on the interactions between art/craft/creativity and mental health/wellness/psychology.

See Kathryn's Site