I’m a month late for an article on Mental Health Awareness Month, but we don’t need to confine these important discussions to 31 days, right?

Over the 9+ years I’ve run Stonemaier Games, I’ve noticed a pattern with my mental and physical health as it relates to me as a creator that may resonate with others: I’m really bad at noticing that a certain area of my health has declined until I’m well in the midst of it (or beyond it). That is, my mental and physical health self-awareness is much lower than I’d like it to be.

Some examples of this:

During my original Viticulture Kickstarter campaign in 2012, I pushed my body to the limit in terms of focus, sleep, and exertion. Other than the full-time job I had at the time, I spent every waking moment working on the campaign, and I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me. The day after the campaign ended, I got really sick (somehow my body knew to hold off until then).
In the spring and summer of 2016 when the Scythe Kickstarter rewards were being delivered early to backers, what should have been a time of celebration was instead a time of deep disappointment and probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to depression. In short, some backers’ passion revealed a dark side of humanity and Kickstarter–the example I always give is that even though the game was delivering early in the US, backers in some states were outraged that backers in other states had their rewards shipped first (there were nearly 10,000 backers in the US, so even with Funagain shipping constantly, it took them a few weeks to send everything). I didn’t realize the full extent of how this impacted me until later when I looked back at how I was feeling that summer, but you can see it in the articles I wrote during that time.
Before I started working full-time at Stonemaier Games in late 2013, I was a fairly active person (I played soccer and worked out a few times a week). But then I worked from home and devoted 70-80 hours a week on Stonemaier. There were still waking hours in the day to focus on physical health, but I just stopped prioritizing it, and sports and exercise became rarities. One day I weighed myself and realized I was significantly heavier than I’d ever been (not that weight is the only indicator of health, but it’s one measure that I’d gone off the rails). I’ve worked hard over the last few years in terms of daily exercise, a vegetarian diet, and some sort of weekly sport (indoor rock climbing and then disc golf) to get back on track, but it amazes me that I truly didn’t notice the declining state of my physical health.

I’m nowhere near qualified to offer advice about mental and physical health, so I’m not going to do that. But I can say that personally, I need to check in with myself on a regular basis to ask myself how I’m doing. I can’t address a problem unless I realize a problem exists.

This may seem like a self-centered thing to do, but if I’m in a funk, I’m probably not at my best for how I treat our customers and the people in my life.

Also, while it’s my responsibility to be aware of my health and take care of myself, sometimes contact from a peer is incredibly helpful. There have been a number of times during drama that another creator has reached out to me to say something as simple as, “Jamey, it sucks that this is happening, but this too shall pass. I’m thinking of you.”

That makes a huge difference, and it’s something I’m trying to do more often when I see a fellow creator struggling. My heart particularly goes out to creators who try to do something good or who have a history of compassion/kindness/generosity and have a slipup that results in baffling levels of harassment and bullying. We all make mistakes, and I’d love to see us evolve to help each other improve, offer a path to redemption, and remember that there’s a fellow human being on the other end of that tweet.

So that’s my overall conclusion: Mental/physical health self check-ins are important, and look out for other people too, as they may be struggling too (and may not even realize it).

Do you have any thoughts about mental and physical health awareness? This is a safe place to share if you’ve struggled too–when you’ve had rough patches, did you realize that while they were happening?


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Image by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash.