Thursday, July 18, 2013

Creating A Little Direction

Today I had to write a bio for a guest post I'm submitting to another blog. It occurred to me that when it comes to the mental health world, I really don't have a title. When introducing myself in conjunction with what I do, I say that I own and operate a travel company, and also do some "mental health work on the side". This, however, is not much of a way to make a name for oneself in any field. Saying that I do something on the side makes it sound like it's a nice hobby, like knitting or taking a Zumba class. Not that there's anything wrong with these activities, but the average person doesn't do these because they feel it's their purpose.

I toyed with how to describe myself for bio purposes. I thought of using the word volunteer, but whenever I do, people ask me what organization I volunteer for. In reality, I've created my own "volunteer work", by way of this blog, the support group I oversee on Facebook, and the fundraising hike I've helped to create and organize. So volunteer doesn't seem to work either. I thought about the word activist, but that can tend to put a bad taste in many mouths. Plus, it's a little too intense of a word for my current efforts. I'm not marching on Washington or anything (yet). That's still a little too high stress for me at the moment, not to mention the fact that I have zero connections to do so even if I wanted to.

I finally settled on the phrase "mental health awareness enthusiast". I'm not 100 percent thrilled with it, but when I added in details about the various work that I do, as described above, I was relatively satisfied. I further added in my hope/plan to work with youth and teens who deal with mental health conditions. The description gives a decent idea of my current activities and allows room for growth. The struggle in coming up with a title for myself brought to mind, once again, a question that I've been debating ....  Should I create an official organization under which I can align all of my various mental health efforts? It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Do I get good footing with the projects first, and then once I know they're a go, or at least progressing, create the organization? Or do I create it first to give me confidence and structure for the projects, and perhaps make them more "official"?

In writing this just now, II realized that I've never laid out, to the public, the various undertakings that I have in mind. I think I'm a bit afraid people will look at me sideways, thinking that I have my head in the clouds. I've been given the 'you see the world differently' speech before, and it nags at me at times. On the other hand, there could be someone reading this that may be the perfect person to help, or may know somebody who is. So, after weighing the potential outcomes, I thought I'd share my plans. I'd greatly appreciate any support, thoughts, or hands raised if someone thinks they could help in any way. There's not a timeline yet, though I have somewhat of an order in mind (not particularly represented here).
  • Hold an annual hike/fundraiser for mental health research and treatment. That's on it's way to fruition, as we are holding the first hike this September. I hope to make it a successful, yearly event. 
  • Host writing classes as a sort of "writing therapy" for people dealing with mental health conditions ... the "therapy" term being my generic term that will have to be worded differently, as I'm not a licensed therapist, but someone who believes in and has experienced growth through writing. 
  • Offer private writing sessions to work one-on-one with people. 
  • Create a mentor program for youth and teens dealing with mental health conditions, where they can get to know to an adult who has dealt with similar issues. I picture it somewhat like a "Big Brothers Big Sisters", but with a mental health demographic. 
  • Create a mental health focused journal/magazine, probably online, specifically for youth and teens. This literally just dawned on me the other day, and now I'm so excited to figure it out. 
I also want to organize some retreats. I'm currently working with a friend on trying to organize a destination writing retreat, and while it's not "mental health focused", I love the idea of writing retreats to help people grow and expand their horizons in general. 

So far, I'm just at the beginning stages for most of these, if that far. However, I'd love to find the right people to help me in these journeys, as certainly it would be a lot to take on single handedly. I'd be to hear your thoughts, and to talk to anyone that might be interested or know someone who may be.

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