I quit my job to talk mental health fulltime - here's why

Change is scary.

Sometimes it’s also exciting. I’m grateful to now be faced with an impending adventure that both terrifies and elates me.

I’m quitting my job to have a crack at talking mental health full-time.

It’s been six glorious and wonderful years that I’ve been working at the Black Dog Institute on eHealth projects, primarily in the area of teen positive psychology. While I’m super proud of what we’ve achieved as a team I realised over time that my heart really lies with public speaking and connecting with people face to face. So I made the decision to spread my wings, fly solo, and get out there to speak to as many people as I possibly can for as long as I’m able to.

I’ve been doing plenty of mental health talks over the years. I’ve been seeking out opportunities pretty much since I dropped out of school. I was always pretty interested in public speaking so when I worked out I could apply it to something meaningful to me it really lit a fire under my butt. I always spoke here and there when opportunities came up and some pretty diverse ones have so far! I’ve spoken at school counsellor conferences, overseas, to HEAPS of schools students, a boat-full of my drunken school chums at our reunion, in the outback, and even a maximum security prison. (ok, so in truth that one was to health support staff. Insinuating that it was to inmates kinda added some more flair to it though, right? I’d make a terrible journalist with my parentheses admissions)

I talk about all kinds of things. My life when it was a mess. Suicide. Recovery. My family’s struggle with providing support and enduring grief. Some people have remarked that they think it’s incredible that I’m able to speak off the cuff. In truth though I’m just useless at preparing presentations in advance. :) haha I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.

I came across this one day. It’s the most useful venn diagram I’ve ever found. I think you might even find it super helpful too. It really can apply to anyone when deciding what to do with work life.

 

Although I will say this is the second most useful venn diagram I've ever found.

But that first one struck a chord with me. I wanted to nail down that ‘purpose’ and cover all four circles. So that’s what I’m doing now. When I did my little episode of Australian Story and got some helpful and encouraging feedback it made me realise that this whole thing might actually be possible after all. I realised that if I’m going to make this happen I need to commit real time to it and not just make it a side thing. My boss was super supportive in me cutting down to four days a week at work. I treated each Wednesday as though it was a real work day at home though. I treated this journey as passion project but still a proper project. My whole bedroom wall is pretty much just post-it notes at this stage. Last year I cut down to three days per week at work. Soon it will be none.

Sometime in late May I’ll be jumping in a car and road-tripping this great girt-by-sea land of ours to speak, to be vulnerable, to learn a hell of a lot, and hopefully to help make a difference.

I say ‘fly solo’ but I don’t really mean it as simply as that. I’ll be a free agent doing my own thing but I’ve had HEAPS of help with it even now before it’s begun. Friends have come together to offer support in branding, communications, advice, event management skillz, and moral support. Good thing too. I haven’t attempted anything as big as this before so there is plenty of room for me to learn. Pulling in guidance and skills from all angles makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m going to be messing around with all kinds of things that may work perfectly straight away or I may get wrong the first time but can learn from. I’ve tinkered and found answers to plenty of questions but I still have many more.. How do I document this whole thing? Podcast? YouTube? Writing? How do I get media involved to help amplify the message? Can I find sponsorship money? I’m going to work it out piece by piece. I don’t want to only show people the polished and perfect version. I want to share all of it. The big successes and also the spots of bother and how we overcome them or learn from them.

So that’s it! 

Here we go, everybody! I’d love for you to follow along my little adventure and most importantly to be a part of it too.

Wish us luck. :D