One recent afternoon I sat down with JBohn Bishop over coffee and lunch to chat about, well, allthethings.
There is just a warm familiarity surrounding time with another creative entrepreneur that elevates a run of the mill conversation to one where you truly feel understood - like hanging out on the same mental frequency - one that very few people know the radio dial for.
After we covered pleasantries, how good the food was, etc., we took a deep dive into the waters of mental health: something that has touched both of our lives in different, but profound ways. For JBohn, as with many, the crisis of the pandemic created a sharp pivot in where both her life and business were heading. Though already offering social media management to several local businesses pre-March 2020, once lockdown happened, she suddenly found herself using her extensive background in online sales to help local brick and mortar stores survive the abrupt lack of in-person traffic. She scheduled classes, webinars, and one-on-one consults to teach them how to re-position and adjust to the challenge at hand. She was quite good at it, as evidenced by the long stream of people lined up at her virtual door asking for a few moments of her expertise. But sometimes, just because you're good at something, doesn't mean it's the right path for you.
Eventually, emotional burnout came, and even simple everyday life tasks became overwhelming to navigate. Wading through the unnamed stigma around seeking out professional help, JBohn courageously booked a therapist, and as a result of the hard work they did together, her story took a massive turn! Being introduced to many tools to combat the depression and overwhelm along with learning why her thought patterns are the way they are, empowered her to move forward and learn what she needed to do to keep her head above water. In the season of darkness though…when even getting out of bed seemed impossible…she just couldn't stop thinking about bringing a carefully curated collection of goods to life as a new branch of her online shopping experience: A Storefront. A Mercantile. "The darkest part of my life somehow showed me where I needed to be." As owning your own business often comes with a season of being a one person show, she is learning now how important it is to accept help when it's offered (even if you don't have the ability to hire regular staff yet). Just a few hours here and there when people are available has freed up a healthy dose of mental space for her to breathe. This is advice we all would do well to heed in our own lives! JBohn (who earned her widely used nickname during her many years as an athlete growing up) is also busy working on streamlining her business to need her less. One thing she is doing is getting systems down on paper and into computers so others can easily use the workflow that was at one time only in her head. Even though she's still in the process of implementing these changes, she is already feeling the weight of shouldering all the responsibility for so many of her business' nitty-gritties starting to lift off her shoulders. Figuring out the boundaries that she operates best within - such as the Mercantile Showroom being open limited hours so that she has ample time to run the other branches of her business, has been integral to managing her mental health as well. Setting and maintaining boundaries might not sound fun. They might even make us feel weak. But often, keeping them in good order is the very thing that allows us to flourish! It's all a work in progress. Quick to note that managing, maintaining, remembering to use the tools, availing herself to medications that help, making time to talk it out with both her therapist and her safe people, are all ongoing ways she works to keep herself daily in a healthy space. There is no finish line to mental health. We're all works in progress. Can mental illness slow you down? Sure. But there is so much help available, and in this stage of life that she finds herself in - during the anniversary month of when she first sought out that help - JBohn is filled with so much hope and excitement for the bright future ahead!
This article was first published in The Current, a local SML publication.