Can I succeed in media with depression and anxiety? I’ve asked myself that over and over for a few years. I made becoming a journalist my goal when I was in high school, mostly because there was pressure to choose a thing. Pressure to know, at 14, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and it was ingrained in me that the most important thing about my life would be my career. So I picked journalism because I know anything involving science and math was out of the question and Rory Gilmore was a journalist and she was smart and respectable, so thus began my career aspirations.
I made that my goal before I knew anything about the industry or my own mental health. I didn’t know that the sadness I felt would still be with me more than a decade later. I didn’t know that when I went to university, anxiety would be such a big part of my life. I didn’t know what anxiety was. So I chose I competitive career field that is centred around deadlines and talking to strangers before I was aware of how my brain functioned.
I’ve had two full-time jobs as an editor. I left both after less than a year in a chaotic mess of stress and sadness. There were factors other than my mental health that led to leaving those jobs. I’m still not sure if those jobs made my depression worse or if my depression made those jobs more difficult. But I do know that it’s probably time to reevaluate my career aspirations.
Journalism still excites me. I still look at work others do in media and get envious that I’m not working for a daily paper in Toronto or freelancing successfully (or at all). But I’m also very cautious. When I look at job postings in journalism or communications or PR, I immediately think about if I could handle it, or if it would be another trainwreck that further deteriorated my well-being. Before I even start writing a cover letter I’ve already spiralled into worries about how I would keep up with the work, how will I fit it, will it work out or be another career trainwreck that pulls me deeper into my depression?
These worries are a product of my anxiety and I know they are not doing me any favours. I also know that most career paths would evoke these same worries, none of it is exclusive to the world of journalism. Every job in the world has moments of stress and shitty coworkers, and my imposter syndrome will follow wherever I go.
So what do I do? Keep trying to make it in an industry that will always feed my anxiety or take a totally different risk and start over with something new? I have no idea and I rarely listen to the advice that’s given to me, so asking the universe isn’t helpful either.
For now, I will continue to curse the public school system that insisted 15-year-old Megan make a choice she was in no way ready to make.