Introducing Mind Journal. The groundbreaking new journal for men.
Where did the idea for Mind Journal come from and why do you think it is important?
In typical fashion and where all great ideas come from, chatting nonsense in the pub. I’ve been keeping a Journal for years and always found it a massively tough thing to do. And when a mate, shared the same issue, I did what all designers do — went on a mission to find a solution. I personally know the power and positive effect that keeping a journal can have on your own happiness and self awareness. When I was raised not to talk about the things that were going on. Writing was my only outlet. At first it was with writing down all my stuff in the form of raps. And eventually that evolved into a proper journal. Journaling has changed my life. And saved it in many ways. When I couldn’t talk, it didn’t mean I didn’t have anything to say. I just didn’t feel safe to vocalise the stuff going on in my head. Writing solves that. As I’m just talking to myself.
What do you hope to achieve through Mind Journal?
The big mission is to get 1 million guys actively keeping a Journal. MindJournal is just one small part of this. It’s about letting guys know that it’s OK to talk, to write, to share, to think, to feel. So many of us are literally a closed book when it comes to our own struggles or successes. But keeping this stuff in is not good. Pure and simple, it’s not good for your state of mind or your physical health. I am to create a new face for men’s mental health. Something that doesn’t look, sound or behave like a ‘mental health’ initiative. Something that is cool, different and aspirational. I want journaling to become a lifestyle movement.
How do you think ideas like Mind Journal and DON’T JUST STARE can create a new approach to Mental Health, within society?
Personally I think mental health needs a big old re-brand. I’m tired of hearing the words suicide, depression, anxiety. And I know my audience, which is guys, just tend to switch off when they hear those words. They don’t want to be associated with them. We need a new tone of voice. A new vocabulary. A new way to communicate our own issues so that others feel OK to share and communicate their own.
We need more ideas like MindJournal and Don’t Just Stare. Ideas like these help neutralise the stigmas. The bad branding that mental health has had for so many years. The voice of these new ideas is one of positivity. Of change and good vibes. Yes things get tough in life. Yes there are things that can go wrong in your head sometimes. But it’s ok. That’s the powerful message brands like MJ and DJS create.
What value do you think creativity has in helping people who are suffering?
In my own journey through life, creativity has played an enormous part in helping me when things have gone a bit rocky. When you’re creative, be it in writing, rapping, singing, drawing, painting, making — you’re living. You’re being your true self. Creativity unlocks parts of us that are sometimes locked, buried deep inside of us. It’s this part of us that needs letting out sometimes. And expressed. Nothing does this more purely and in an enjoyable way that being creative.
How do you think that creativity can help to open up conversation about Mental Health in general?
Not sure on the question. Do you mean a conversation between people that need some help? Or the wider public?
I think if it is with the wider public and about a conversation in general than I think, as mentioned above — creativity can play a huge role. However it needs to be done in a non-obvious way. Subliminal.
I don’t want to go to an exhibition that showcases art created by people with mental health issues. I want to go to an exhibition and see what speaks to me on a personal level and then maybe discover that the artist suffers with anxiety, and the reason for their piece was about X. I just think we should lose the label.
Why do you think that so many people find it difficult to discuss their mental health in our society?
Because of this label. We have a tendency to what to label and pigeon hole people. I never wanted to share my stuff, not only because I thought it would be disloyal to my mum. But because people would label her and me. I always feel that by labelling people it’s easier to blame people. To hold people accountable for their mistakes. No one wants to be wrong or be in the wrong or be blamed for something they didn’t mean to do. That they were out of control of. It’s like the phrase ‘commit suicide’. This comes from when trying to kill yourself was illegal. It was a crime. To commit a crime to end your life. We’re still holding on to this even today. Some people believe that suicide is a selfish act. It’s crazy! It’s the complete opposite. But no wonder, when society clings on to these beliefs, do people feel afraid to reach out for help.
So I think it’s a number of things but mainly people find it difficult because of others people reaction. The lack of support and understanding out there in society. Fear of being labelled.
What is one piece of advice you would say to someone who is suffering?
Whoa, that’s a tough one. But I would always say this:
The main thing to remember, no matter what you’re going through. No matter how lost you may feel or how lonely you believe are in what you’re experiencing — you are not alone at all. When I was experiencing a breakdown and what I later discovered was PTSD, I though I’d lost it completely. I believed that no one could ever understand what I was feeling and experiencing. However as soon as discovered that others had been through it, and survived. I realised that what I was going through was normal, as un-normal as it actually felt.
What is your self-care routine?
Well I write. Journaling does and always will be the safest place for me to express what’s going on in my head. I go to the gym. I take my anger out on the punch bag, the weights. There’s something therapeutic in lifting something really heavy. Using all your energy and strength to lift this huge dead weight. It drains you mentally and physically and for me personally, when I’m feeling super anxious about something totally illogical, it calms me. I run, I cycle. The speed, the air, the rush — it kind of makes me feel like I’m running away from my thoughts.
I also see a counsellor once a week. Sometimes I’m my own worse enemy and need to vocalise my thoughts. Plus after not being able to talk for 19 years of my life, I’ve got quite a bit to say. I also listen to a lot of music. No matter what I’ve been through, music has always had a profound place in my life. It allows me to connect with my emotions and cope with different experiences.
What’s your favourite therapeutic song to listen to?
I listen to a lot of rap music. It keeps me focused. Keeps me positive. Reminds me what I’ve been through. Reminds me that others are struggling. But if I feel angry or need a good cry, the Kings of Leon and the White Lies get me every time. When I had my breakdown these guys were the soundtrack for it.
I’ve written a whole piece on rap music and the effect it’s had on my life all in this post:
Thank you so much Ollie!
Please check out Mind Journal right here: https://mindjournals.com