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Mental Health- Being vulnerable was the beginning to overcome my challenges.

August 9th, 2019  /  Blog, Mental Health  /  7

When we started Clipboard Hospitality, we knew there would be a higher mission for the company. Over the past 12 months we have been extremely proud of our progress, however this is nothing compared to the work we are now doing around the mental health challenges in our community. Our mission is to provide the hospitality community with: 

  1. Resources to gain advice, assistance and help
  2. A sounding board for anyone in the community who is suffering from mental health challenges
  3. Bring to light the seriousness of the issue and what we can, as a community, do to assist one another
  4. Change the reality of our industry and learn to make the changes for balance, health and well being. 

My intention in telling my story is to give you an insight into my own personal struggles and demons over the past 18 months and how I managed to overcome them and rediscover myself.  

I have been a part of the hospitality community for over 18 years. It is my life, my career and my passion. I entered the industry because I wanted to connect with people. While I studied, I quickly realised my passion was for business and people and the hospitality industry presented the best opportunity for me to reach my aspiration. I started out as a waiter and bartender and quickly set my sights on management. Once I achieved this, I then looked to overseas for expanding my knowledge and skill set. Once I returned, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I was involved in my first business. Since 2014, I have launched 3 hospitality businesses (including Clipboard) and have had an emotional steamroller of success and challenges. I am also a father of 2 amazing kids, aged 4 and 18 months and husband to a wonderful, supportive and ambitious wife. My family is my passion, my highest value in which all my decision making is formed. However, for the past 18 months I have encountered some of the darkest moments in my life. It was only in the recent months that I realised that I needed to SPEAK UP, be vulnerable and take control of my life again.

I never believed I would find myself in a position of complete helplessness. In January 2018, a month before my second child was to be born a frightening thought entered my life, “It would be easier if I no longer existed”. This manifestation of stress, pressure and willingness to be successful (in other’s eyes) had led me to put everyone else’s values above mine, and I didn’t realise the effect my decisions were having as a result of this until this thought entered my mind. It is a scary proposition to be confronted with when your internal dialogue goes down this dark path. To the outside world, no one had any idea of the struggles I was internalising. To everyone, I was me, I was the same person I had always been. This was also a frightening revelation. The fact that I was so good at hiding what was internally crippling me. However, I managed to push this thought aside and continue with my day to day existence. I never spoke to anyone about this. But as expected things became worse. My professional life had become more about survival then aspiration. My health and well being started to deteriorate as I continued to make poor and “not like me” decisions. I continued in pernicious circumstances, working over 80 hours per week, continued to be the “YES” man no matter the cost and continued to further drift down a darkness that I couldn’t see any way out of. It felt that everything I did, everything I touched would result in failure and I couldn’t get on top of it all. I kept telling myself “Tomorrow is the day you turn it around” but tomorrow didn’t come… until 18 months later.

The scariest part of this was hiding it from the people I love and those who cared for me. Then I hit rock bottom. I had lost all sense of self awareness. Self-doubt in my abilities both professionally and personally had taken over and I felt I was buried under a mountain of darkness. I was letting people down around me, I was making deflating decisions, I was sinking in my attempts to survive. I needed help! I needed to speak up! However, I didn’t…not until the biggest challenge of my life sent my world upside down and the impact it had on my family and my children forced me to act. If only I had spoken up 18 months ago, I would not have trapped myself in this position. A lesson learnt in hindsight but one I will never forget. 

I started to see a life coach. Someone outside my network who I could really open up to. I realised that positive thoughts and affirmations weren’t going to cut it. I need the tools and resources to gain back the light and start climbing my way out of the darkness. I opened up to my wife and my extended family and was met with support and love, not shame and embarrassment that I had projected would be the case. Through my heart felt conversations with my family and my openness with a life coach I understood a new perspective on all my challenges. They made me realise to value myself again and work towards MY value system. To not dismiss the challenges but to focus on the fact that challenges can be overcome. But the greatest tool of all, was I was able to express everything I had bottled up for over a year to someone who wouldn’t judge me or critic my actions. I didn’t need to be perfect around them, I just needed to be me and once I did this, I began to feel the weights slowly lift. I began to see that asking for help was not failure, it was not a sign of weakness but a sign of self-awareness. I started to explore what it was to be me again. I started to make decisions that were for my benefit not for the benefit of everyone else. My internal dialogue became about acceptance of my strengths and limitations and more importantly the ability to live true to my values. 

Today, I am overcoming these challenges. I feel like myself once again. I am prepared to fight my way back to who I am, to tackle the challenges with the help of those around me and focus on me again. And…the results are evident everyday I wake up and take on the day. I am achieving this by: 

  1. Living true to my values (I needed to establish these again) 
  2. Being grateful everyday
  3. Surrounding myself with the right people 
  4. Realising that I don’t need to please others, rather focus on myself and what my purpose is and trust myself
  5. Making decisions that have a positive impact on my well-being (Not entirely there yet but making progress and that’s what matters). 

I am grateful to those who support me and guide me. I am grateful for reigniting the passion and fire inside me to achieve what I feel I am supposed to do. I am grateful for speaking up when I did. It’s never too late or too far gone to get help. Don’t let the demons take over your life, you have so much to give to this world. And even if you feel no one else believes so, make sure you do because at the end of the day, it’s you who determines your true self, and no one can take that away.   

Brendan Leeds 

CEO 

Clipboard Hospitality 

CLIP! CONNECT! CREATE! CARE!

For anyone experience challenges of mental health, there are some great people and organisations out there who want to help. Also below are some great organisations and resources to help you work on yourself. 

https://www.formen.org.au/

https://www.ruok.org.au/

https://whitejacketeffect.com.au

https://www.womeninhospitality.org/

https://www.drdemartini.com/

 

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