It’s 9pm — I’m sitting in front of the laptop, staring at the screen. Blank. “What do I write?” I scroll through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Nothing. I write a sentence. “Doesn’t make sense.” My chest sinks and I auto-roll myself into my blanket.

Also me: “Shit my room’s a mess. I have uneaten leftovers on my table.”

Also me: “Ughh, this idea is terrible. Stop it”.

Before I continue drifting off with my inner monologue, I’ll just say that I struggled pretty hard with writing this article (as you can tell). Sharing a bit of what’s going through my head is quite nerve-wracking.

So hi, my name is Liyana and I have anxiety and depression. ?‍♀️


The Journey

(Source: Geoffroy De Crecy)

Mental health is a loaded topic. I see it as a roller coaster ride that you are forced to get on against your will. A bit melodramatic, I know. ? But you see, roller coasters aren’t all that scary – it might look it but when you’re on it, you accept the ride and just go with it. You learn along the way and it gets a tad bit easier. Little wins. ✨

I started realising that I wasn’t alone in this and met new friends that felt the same way. They had their own experiences, lived their lives with it, and are still able to adult. Probably most of us have noticed a huge wave of people sharing their mental disorders publicly and created an amazing community with the help of the Internet. 

Mental health is a broad spectrum; one person could have social anxiety and the other could be schizophrenic. I just found out that 1 in 3 Malaysians struggle with mental health. I’m not surprised but that’s still crazy! Yet we don’t have proper channels to help these people in need. Heck, most people don’t even realise they have it.


Creative but Crazy

(Source: Michael Driver)

Creativity and mental health have gone hand-in-hand for a long, long time. Sometimes I think to myself, “Maybe that’s why I’m a designer? ? Famous artists or musicians have expressed their art through their suffering and even sometimes taking their own lives.

Aristotle once said, “No great genius has ever existed without a strain of madness.”

In a way, areas like the creative industries, for instance being a musician or artist, were fields where being a little crazy wasn’t as much a problem as it was a necessity for the job. The problem with that, is that we end up romanticizing the idea of the “tortured genius” in a way that could undermine the seriousness of such conditions. In reality, we don’t have to be crazy to be creative. We’re all a little crazy inside but it needs a bit of TLC too.


Discovery

Fundamentally, design is communication. How it interacts and connects with the audience is all part of the design experience. I think it’s pretty exciting to imagine the possibilities of design for mental health specifically. During my mental health journey, I found a couple of things that resonated with me.

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