The IMPACT Project: Melanie Muto – The Creative

Melanie Muto is a graphic designer, who has used her creative talent and ability to express her journey with mental health. We met while interning for and immediately hit it off. She brings a fresh perspective, and can see the little details with ease. I am amazed by the way in which she works with her mental health, and uses it to her advantage with her creative pieces, as opposed to allowing it to be a hindrance.

“Working With My Mental Health. Not Against It”

My sixteen-year-old self would barely understand this concept. The only idea of “health” for her was eating decent food and somehow getting “perfect” grades (which was probably the start of all this).

I took a walk yesterday and found my mind wandering to a very familiar place, where a group of negative and hypothetical thoughts were closely knit in a very complex web of insecurity. It’s like some type of rapidly moving daydream, except you don’t just “snap out of it”.

You (well I) tell yourself that you’re breathing. You’re alive. And you’re strong.

You talk back to your thoughts, because you finally know how they work, rather than trying to permanently erase something about you.

Coming to terms with my mental health was not easy. It took therapy, a huge support system of amazing people who helped me reach out shamelessly, and my own courage to accept a mind that likes to work in a certain, unique way.

Oh, and it also took a small period of avoiding my mental health all together because not feeling much was “easier”. What was perceived as a state of calm was more of a lingering numb, fuelled by the fear that I’d trigger a harmful, uncontrollable mindset again.

I found myself in the same state of feeling embarrassed to admit a period of depression in my life, thinking people would shame me for falling back to “old ways”, as if I ran a race backwards or something.

But the support system reminded me of their compassion, and I learned that I was always running a race, and that it wouldn’t really ever come to a “finale”. What do I mean by this? I mean that I was always waiting for some over-arching moment, where I’d wake up and everything would be “fixed”. I’d be all smiles and never have to face a sudden period of sadness again.

There wasn’t and probably will never be an over-arching moment – I am always changing and there will always be a battle to overcome. Oh, and I will always have mental health.

Coming to terms with the way I think and knowing that my thought processes have the potential to trigger states of anxiety or sadness was actually liberating. Yes. Liberating.
I’ve become excited to learn about myself. To realize why I suddenly become down, and discover what brings me back up.

I’ve grown to want to learn about others more. To be inspired by their story, their decisions, them.

Conversations with my friends and family about their mental health have become less of a “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed” (that feeling is long gone) and more of a “I want to encourage others to be happy, and meet their own goals.”

I want to see others get better and take care of themselves, and I want to be an example for them. Yes, I could give all the advice with my past experiences, which helps too, but I can also inspire others through my actions and everyday decisions. I use “inspire” because everyone is different. Some people hate walks, and some people don’t prefer a comforting tub of ice cream. But I know that everyone likes a little (or big) dose of encouragement – the type that tells you:

a: people give a fuck,
b: you got this, and
c: self-care is not selfish.

– Mel


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