I met Denis through the kind introduction of another author (Jodie Lane – you can check her guest blog out here. Denis and I spent over an hour recording a podcast for his show and discussing all things mindset. You can check that out here . He has kindly started the 2020 year of the guest blog for me with this discussion on how writing can be good for your mental health. Denis is an incredible and resilient human being and I know you will enjoy his story so much that you will check him out on the socials which are listed at the end with his Bio – Becky
My relationship with writing has been a rather complex one to say the least. In school I was good at English but I wasn’t very connected to my voice as a writer. Technically I was good at English which led me to studying other languages but I had no sense of what writing could become for me. I lost touch with writing and creativity as I matured and developed into an adolescent and a young man. I started to see it as something that would make me stand out and be teased for. I didn’t have a strong enough sense of why I would voluntarily put myself through what looked to me at the time to be torture so I let my insecurities take control of my decision making process. In hindsight the uncomfortable decision to study French at university became the thing that kept me connected to my voice as a writer, although I didn’t know this at the time.
Indeed the French language is what eventually provided the opportunity that would make me deal with my personal demons from the past and fall head first into the world of writing. It wasn’t the introduction I was expecting, in fact it was quite the opposite. Going through a mental breakdown, while I was writing my first ever blog, in a remote part of France made me feel like I had lost my mind for good and there was no coming back from it. I thought I was now doomed to a life of subservience and dependence on other people. This was my initiation into the world of writing. I could either ignore this wakeup call from the universe and self-righteously hold on to my victim mindset or I could choose to grow from the experience no matter how bad things got. As cliché as it sounds, I decided I would grow from it and turn my mess into a message worth sharing.
Psychology became my gateway drug back into the world of writing. In order to move forward with my life I had to study and make sense of my own psychology and why I had a mental breakdown. I knew that if I wanted to make a full recovery then I couldn’t outsource this completely to a doctor or a psychiatrist. As good as I think modern medicine is it can’t take into account the human spirit and why things happen to us on a spiritual level. As I began my journey of self-directed learning I started to learn about my mind and what my insecurities were built from. The next step was to externalise the thoughts and what better way to do this than writing?
Initially writing was an outlet for me to vent and at the same time make sense of the world. It became a form of self-therapy and a form of self-education. I learned that when you take the time to write something new down, there is a higher chance you will retain it. My path to becoming a professional software developer was in part paved from the many blog posts I wrote describing what I was learning in the early days.
As the years passed I realised there was so much I was learning that could be very helpful to people who are struggling just as much as I was. I was an unknown blogger who was beginning to gain a sense of purpose and direction but who also wasn’t very sure of his ideas and had the habit of downplaying his knowledge and life experiences. This cocktail of knowledge and self-doubt is what gave me the idea to start a podcast. I already had access to mentors and I thought that their confidence in their ideas could help me reach more people and help me get over me fear of being seen by others.
I started The Happy Mindset podcast at the end of 2017 with a rather vague premise and an even vaguer title. I knew the idea of happiness was a core concept I wanted to explore as reflecting on this is what has helped me through my darkest and most hopeless moments. I knew that I wanted to explore the wide ranging world of psychology with the goal of helping my listeners learn about how their mind works. I was also hyperaware that most people would put these two words together and conclude I was a guy with his head in the clouds, denying the dark parts of reality before ever listening to understand where this podcast was really born from.
The podcast is what eventually led me to writing my first book – Taking my Life Back and becoming an author. The book outlines the key principles and lessons I learned after my mental breakdown. The purpose of the book is to help people rethink how they think about mental illness and how they think about people who have experienced a mental breakdown. I want to give a voice to the person going through their experience, another perspective to the psychiatrist, therapist, coach or teacher as well as to shine a light on the spiritual lessons that lie on the other side of such a traumatic experience.
The book came about because my publisher, Lisa Caprelli, was doing research for her book on happiness. Initially a podcast title that made me feel really uncomfortable is what led me to the opportunity to write a book. Lisa connected me with her cousin Davey Villalobos who happened to illustrate books. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would work with Davey because I have a vivid memory as a young boy being told by the world that becoming a cartoonist wasn’t a viable career path. I believe that synchronicities will emerge when you have the faith to follow your curiosity, imagination and your heart.
My message is that although life can be extremely tough and frustrating sometimes there is always a light in every dark tunnel. The light I have found has been a journey where I decided to believe in myself again and dedicate my time, energy and attention on cultivating my skills and focusing on what truly matters to me.
Denis is an author, podcaster and software developer from Ireland. His many interests range from foreign languages to computer programming. He speaks 4 languages including French and he is currently learning Japanese. On his podcast, The Happy Mindset, he explores human psychology, creative writing and what it means to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He discovered his love for creative writing after some mental health issues he experienced in his early 20’s. His first book is called Taking my Life Back.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thehappymindsettribe/
Taking my Life Back: https://amzn.to/2rxKOla