I have always thought of my teenage brushes with suicidal depression as a springboard of my creativity* – less depression more compression. But I had never talked about it in a professional setting.
My past experiences of despair have been a constant source of insight – a motor really – as I perform on the various stages of my life (business, arts social change) but they’ve remained in my backstage.
Then I met Geoff McDonald – thanks to various nudges from Arianna, Tara, Louise (life has definitely been nudging!). Geoff, Georgie Camilla and the growing gang at [email protected] are campaigning to destigmatize depression and anxiety in the very workplaces where I make my living.
So when Nancy and Hephzi (more nudging from Oli) invited me to tell my story at the inaugural meeting of their new Inspire Movement at Google HQ – I said yes.
Actually I said yes. Then hmm. Then err. To my surprise I found myself hesitating at the edge of the diving board. There’s an omertà about mental health in professional life and it turns out I wasn’t immune as I contemplated ‘outing’ this chapter of my personal narrative.
But, hey, I have just written a book on the power of story to shape the world so with a bit more nudging (thanks Jo, Ben, Mark, Byron and Elaine) and, in the encouraging company of two truly heroic fellow speakers, the wonderful Emma Lawton and Pedro Pimenta, I jumped!
What a relief. It’s a TED length talk. I’d love to know what ideas it sparks in you. And if you have friends you think may be suffering depression in silence – especially at work – feel free to share it.
*Witness the connection between creativity and depression live on stage and book a ticket now for the wonderful Fake It Till You Make It. It’s a gloriously uplifting show by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn about living with mental darkness that’s at Sadlers Wells, London 23-25 June.