5 May 2021

Crisis and creativity: how I found my true calling during the pandemic

Sophia Klose is a mental health writer & illustrator based in England. Originally from Berlin, she is a guest blogger for Mental Health Europe’s German member Mental Health Crowd, a social enterprise. Sophia has lived experience of mental ill-health with anxiety and depression. She curiously explores our highs and lows, and what lies in-between. In the run-up to the European Mental Health Week, she shares how the pandemic led her to a career change towards mental health.

The pandemic has changed my life. Surely, I am not alone with this feeling. As a 30 year-old German living in the UK. I have experienced several episodes of anxiety and depression since adolescence. The pandemic with all its unpredictability and uncertainty mainly triggered my anxiety.


Last summer I was made redundant alongside many other colleagues. I fought my way back into employment as quickly as possible, and even managed to climb up the career ladder. But then the anxiety got out of control. Every morning I woke up in the middle of a panic attack. In January 2021 I had to completely step back and give up my job.


Imagining the endless waiting lists of the National Health Service was anxiety-inducing in itself. Therefore, I started to see a private therapist. In the process of talking about my worries, fears, and above all my crippling self-doubt, I had a big realisation: I no longer want to build a career in marketing. The nature of this job is just not compatible with my mental health needs. What I really want to be is a mental health writer and illustrator.


Thanks to a brilliant online event by Mental Health Europe called “Let’s Talk – Empowering Recovery in Europe” I am taking my recovery very seriously. This time I give myself all the time I need before throwing myself into work again.


Instead of browsing job adverts, I revived my blog on Instagram and in the process found a very supportive and understanding community group of mental health advocates. I rediscovered my creativity, regularly going on long nature photography walks in our local area, drawing every day and working on my first two mental health graphic novels. I have written about mental health for my own Instagram blog and other people, including the wonderful Mental Health Crowd in Munich (a social enterprise running the first mental health café in Germany) and a website called Teen Survival Kit.


With the help of a book called “How to Listen” by the Samaritans charity I have improved my own active listening skills, so that I can have better conversations with other stressed out people.


Encouraged by my therapist, I have researched my family history and finally found the courage to ask some difficult questions about a family member who died from suicide when I was a teenager.


I feel inspired and empowered to continue my own mental health journey and to accompany other people. If there is one thing I learned during this very chaotic pandemic year: never hesitate to take a break when you need it. Be it a small break during a busy working day or a longer break during your career. Our minds need time to process difficult life events. Talking about it – with trustworthy friends or a therapist – can be a life-changing experience. And you never know; if you open up this may inspire somebody else to see that their mental health matters and that we all deserve support when we need it. Now more than ever!

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