Adam Green is a Video Editor living in Canada. Like most creatives, he’s passionate about his job – and knows all too well how his passion can often lead to him burning out.
Here, Adam tells us his experience of managing the balance between having a healthy drive and teetering on the edge of overdrive.
“I love my job – I genuinely think Monday is the best day of the week and I love sinking into new projects” he starts. “I have a habit of feeling most uncomfortable in my comfort zone, so I’m always looking for the next thing I can push towards, both in and out of work.
“But I also understand the dangers that come with this attitude, including burning myself out by investing too much in my work – something I have done in the past as a way of escaping issues outside the workplace.”
Adam’s experiences with mental health issues began after graduating from university.
After what he describes as the “underwhelming” feeling of graduating, Adam set himself up for some serious graft to make his way in the world. Having travelled throughout uni, he wasn’t taken with the idea of a gap year, and so instead settled for a busy bar job while teaching himself how to edit videos between shifts.
“After two years of burning myself out, I managed to get my foot in the door at a great agency, move out of my family home to a new city, and pursue editing full time.”
"On paper my life was going great and all the hard work had paid off. Things had totally changed for the better over the course of two months and I should have been really happy, but the reality was that I was really struggling."
“On paper my life was going great and all the hard work had paid off. Things had totally changed for the better over the course of two months and I should have been really happy, but the reality was that I was really struggling.”
After the initial change of a new job, a new environment and a new living space began to wear off, Adam describes how he soon found himself feeling more and more isolated.
“In a flat by myself, with a long distance relationship, alone in a new city, and only just getting by financially – all these things resulted in me not appreciating the good parts of my life, and it became increasingly hard to see the positives.
“I never thought I would struggle with mental health, but it gradually became apparent that I was depressed, and I really struggled to swallow the idea that I was very unhappy."
“I was also reluctant to talk to anyone about how I felt because I knew that I’d been successful in all my goals over the recent years, and I struggled to believe that anyone would understand that there was no rationale behind how I felt. It was such a lonely feeling that was ultimately self-perpetuating.”
As well as processing what was going on in his own mind, Adam began to put the support he often provided to those close to him before his own emotional stance.
“I have a few people that I’m very close to that suffer from depression, and I’ve always been able to offer support and be a stable and reliable source of advice.
“It scared me to think that I couldn’t be a support for those people while I was treading water myself. I didn’t want to disappoint those people – this was an unnecessary pressure that I put on myself, that ultimately compounded my own issues.”
On reflecting how working in a creative industry has affecting his mental health, Adam expresses how lucky he feels to do what he does for a living, but acknowledges the toll putting so much of yourself into your work can take.
“It’s important to be self aware and listen to the signals that show you may be burning yourself out. No matter how much you love your work, you need time to decompress and really switch off. Otherwise you can push too hard and end up being forced to recover - a situation that I liken to that of getting the bends."
“I have found that, in the creative industry, there are so many kind, understanding and ultimately supportive people. Whether that is related to growing ideas for a project or sharing personal experiences, working in a collaborative and progressive space naturally attracts supportive and open-minded people.
“Surrounding yourself with these people was the key to me coming to terms with my state of mind: both indirectly, and through talking openly about mental health in the workplace with people I respect and trust.
“I like to think I’m a positive person with a logical thought process, and I do well at giving advice and fixing other people’s problems. However, when it comes to myself, I’ve learned that I’m stubborn to a fault in that I’ll just try to fix it all on my own.
“In hindsight, this was really naive and if I ever find depression creeping in again, the first thing I will do is ask for help. I was afraid of losing pride and saw asking for help as a defeat, when the reality was that I gained more pride and achievement from sharing and thusly overcoming my problems.”
Having identified that all-important balance, Adam now talks about how his confidence is in a great place – something which led to him to starting a new chapter living in Canada for the past year.
“It’ll be a great adventure that’ll push me out of my comfort zone and I can’t wait! I will always take time to enjoy the positive parts of my life and try my best to be a positive part of other people’s lives too.”
Adam’s advice for those experiencing similar situations is solid, and rings true with many others we’ve had the pleasure of sharing here at Pressures and Perspectives:
“Talk about it. Whether indirectly by being a part of a wider conversation about mental health, or opening up to someone you care about, talking is what helped me get my head around my own situation."
“Sometimes just choosing to be happy seems impossible or false when you are struggling, but you don’t need to bare all to be helped. Surrounding yourself with people you want to be around, and taking time out to think about what is going right is really important.”