From Anxious to Activist: How my anxiety helped me strive for exactly what I want, the way I want it

Elpha was kind enough to feature my career journey (and the large part my mental health played in it) in honor of Mental Health Awareness Week! Read it over on Elpha’s site here, or I’m also going to paste it below for safe keeping. 🙂

“Thinking outside the box” is not so much a skill as it is a survival method when you never fit in that damn box to begin with. I have anxiety. Anxiety has many different faces, but the form it takes in my life often has me avoiding social situations, or any sort of event that might be to sensory-overwhelming. I’m also an entrepreneur, so you can see where this may cause some bumps in the road!

I’ve always had anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I’ve also always been extremely goal-oriented. I would decide that I wanted to do something, and then, come hell or high water, I would get it done. I believe that it was this sort of single-mindedness that allowed me to forge the paths I needed to to achieve what I wanted to achieve. Because the odds were always stacked against me.

I’d like to take a little time-out here. Understandably so, when we have things about us that are different, we tend to be embarrassed or ashamed of them. We may even try to hide them. I’d been doing it throughout most of my life. “I’m sorry I can’t come to your party, I’m sick.” “Sorry I’m late, something came up.” But when it came to my college plans, I knew that if an arts degree was something that I truly wanted, and it was, I needed to get real with myself. I couldn’t always physically attend classes. Some days my anxiety was just too high. I realized that the path I needed to take was through distance learning (online courses), and I would do all the legwork I had to to find colleges that awarded degrees through 100% distance learning. There weren’t many, and I would search online for hours and hours every night. Eventually I did find a few, and though it took me roughly twice the time to graduate as it did for my non-anxious friends, I got my Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts in 2017.

This isn’t to say that you need a degree to be successful; but you do need a plan that works for you. If you know in your heart that you can’t handle on-campus college life, it’s not fair to yourself to apply that pressure. Find another way, or make your own. I kept with this same mantra when I started looking for work.

I knew I wanted to be able to wake up every day and create. I also knew that I still couldn’t make the commitment to commuting to and from an office. Leaving the house was something that was, and still is, very difficult for me. I started my online school search all over again, but this time for online internships. And just like last time, eventually, I found a match. Podcast audio editing – something creative that I could do right from my house!

I threw myself into honing my skills and being the best I could be at audio editing. This work paid off, because through word of mouth I was getting offered more and more podcasts to edit. My clients liked my work so much that they were telling their friends about me; and then those friends would reach out! I decided to give myself a brand name to do my work under: Husmus. Husmus means “house mouse” in Swedish, and that’s exactly what I was: a little mouse in my house scurrying around, getting my work done.

My story could very easily stop there… but it doesn’t. I was editing all of these podcast episodes for all of these badass entrepreneur women, and listening to them week after week took its toll on me. They were talking up panels and rallies and networking events; things that I knew would be super beneficial to grow my own brand, but things I also knew I couldn’t get out there and go to. That’s when the seed was planted for the Husmus Social Circle.

I posted on online forums for female entrepreneurs asking for advice and opinions, and so many of the responses were the same: “I feel like this too… I thought I was the only one.” Like I said before, when there are parts of us that are different, we become good at hiding them. Too good. So good that we didn’t know others were also struggling, since no one wanted to take the first step and admit it. And it’s hard to blame them, really. There’s little to no representation of mental illness in the media; and when there is, it’s often grossly inaccurate.

So I wanted to form a community. I wanted a safe-haven for female entrepreneurs working just as hard as all the ladies going to expos and workshops, but not able to reap the same benefits. A sounding board for women that had to forge their own paths due to their own mental health conditions, just like I did, because the traditional ones just aren’t always possible for us to tread.

The good news is that the more we talk about mental health openly, the more we realize that we’re not treading these paths alone. One day I hope that these events will offer more virtual components, but the only way to do that is by speaking up and showing that we’re a group that is largely underrepresented in the business space, and we deserve more accessibility to these happenings that will help us grow our own brands and businesses into the best they can be.

Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” I could not agree more. Working with and around mental health challenges is difficult, but it’s also do-able. Stand strong in the progress you have made, don’t let the setbacks stop you, and keep striving for exactly what you want, the way you want it.

Nicole Canovas is a graphic designer, audio engineer that specializes in podcast production, and mental health activist. She founded her “creative tech services” brand, Husmus, in 2017, and in 2019 started The Husmus Social Circle: a growing hub of resources and support for fellow entrepreneurs working with anxiety and/or other mental health issues. Her main goal in all of her work, be it visual, auditory, or through her writing on the Husmus Social Circle blog, is to ensure that important stories and ideas are shared, and that the voices behind them are given an equal platform from which they can be truly heard.

If you’re ready to share your own story, please do e-mail me at Nicole@husmus.co and I’ll post it on the blog. Talking and sharing is such an important part of not only growing awareness in others, but growing confidence within ourselves!

Guest Blogger Spotlight: Tamar Weinberg – From Spiraling Down to Starting Up

Depression and anxiety suck the life out of you.

I know this because I’ve been there.

Early 2018 was particularly tough for me. Trauma and tragedy put me in a downward spiral. I spent my days in a dark room, barely wanting to wake up, let alone face the world.

When you’re in such an emotional state of turmoil and despair, you don’t really care how others look at you. After all, you’re not really even looking at yourself, but when you do, it isn’t good.

One day that changed for me. I don’t really know what motivated me to do something different, something outside of my tried and true “roll out of bed in sweats, pants, and Crocs (with socks!)” behavior. I tried on a little spritz of perfume, something I had worn before, but my perspective was different.When you’re at a low point, remember, you’re not doing things for other people. You’re doing things a little more selfishly.

That day was a turning point for me. I put perfume on as an inward experience and I felt great. Excited. Alive. I put on real clothes. I spent the rest of that day sniffing my wrists, feeling much better than I had in a long time.

It didn’t heal me overnight, but personal fragrance gave me a new perspective on living again.

Over the next few months, all I did was experiment with different scents, learn more, study more.

It felt amazing.

This much is true: Fragrance brought me out of my depression. I decided to commit my life to spread this message of self care for self worth. In an industry where fragrance is marketed as an element for sex appeal, do I go out to a brand and tell them to focus on wellness instead?

Nah.

So I decided to create my own.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working tirelessly on TAMAR, a high end artisan personal fragrance line — for everyone: TAMAR is fragrance for who you are. It’s aroma therapy, not aromatherapy.

Everyone deserves happiness and I truly believe that making fragrance an inward journey of self discovery has the ability to transform you.

If you’d like to learn more about the brand, sign up to the mailing list at TAMAR and stay tuned for the product launch.

Tamar Weinberg

Social Media Links:
Twitter: twitter.com/tamaressences
Instagram: instagram.com/tamaressences
Facebook: facebook.com/tamaressences
Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/tamar


The Guest Blogger Spotlight is for shining the light on people that have used their mental health journeys as fuel to get them to where they are today. If you’d like to be featured, send an e-mail to Nicole@Husmus.co!

That New Moon Energy…

Remember when “BDE” was a thing? I think “NME” (New Moon Energy) should be a thing, because this new season, new moon energy has me feeling POWERFUL. Capable. Ready! Here are some steps my NME has me taking:

  • Skillcrush. I’ve been obsessed with HTML ever since back in middle school when I realized you could view a site’s page source and peep their code. I loved customizing my Myspace, and my Teen Open Diary (RIP 😫)… but I never knew that any of that fell under the umbrella of “coding”. For me, when I thought of coding, I pictured Girl With a Dragon Tattoo type situations. But then I took Skillcrush’s Coding Bootcamp (and finished it in one night, because that’s just how I am), and it opened my eyes to how much I already know about coding, and how easy it is to learn! This is NOT an ad or endorsed by the Skillcrush team in ANY way, I’m just genuinely excited about how much I’ve learned and how much I’m still learning (cuz you KNOW I went back to enroll in more courses.) Expect this very website to be re-vamped soon!
  • Yellow Co. Again, NOT an ad, just an amazing community I’m super excited about. In my introductory post, I spoke a little about my goal with Husmus: increased access to events for entrepreneurs who can’t physically be there, and the Founder, Joanna Waterfall, seemed genuinely interested in my work and how she could make Yellow Co. more accessible as well. There are a lot of entrepreneurial groups out there, but it’s so refreshing and validating when you find a space where know your words are actually being SEEN!

Okay, onto the work!

audio:

graphics:

On Your Mark, Get Set, ADVOCATE!

audio:

graphics:

Advocacy!

Earlier this week I also signed up for two courses on Coursera that I’m really excited about: An Introduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design ( University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ), & Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators ( University of Pennsylvania ).

One of my main goals in life has always been helping people, and I look forward to what these courses can teach me about how to do just that!

A Sweet Week for Husmus!

Husmus’s First Collaboration

Huge thanks to Collabosaurus for playing matchmaker.

A few weeks ago, Husmus partnered with Subarz for a cross-promotional social media collab! I made Daphne, the Founder and Creator of Subarz, this promo graphic:

And in return, she sent me this TREASURE TROVE OF SWEETS:

(Not pictured: the bag of Chocolate Chip Subarz that I immediately tore into.)

I cannot speak highly enough of Subarz (they’re DELICIOUS- my sister and I have annihilated them,) or Daphne herself (SUCH a pleasure to work with!) This experience has me all kinds of excited for collaborations to come!

audio:

  • Episode 26 of Baily Hancock’s Stop Collaborate & Listen Podcast with Suzie Moldavon, Founder & CEO of Flybrow
  • Episode 45 of Sara Weinreb’s Medium Well Podcast: Design Thinking: The fundamentals and how to use it to grow your business (solo series)

graphics:

Husmus is Expanding! Introducing HusmusSocialCircle.com

This has been a VERY big week for Husmus!

It all started out with with me writing a few articles on LinkedIn (here and here). I shared them on some of the social media platforms I’m on, and I got a lot of responses. Like a LOT. And they all agreed that increased representation, visibility, inclusion, and a sense of community were all things that entrepreneurs living with mental health issues sorely needed. So I reached out to a few people… and I took the next baby step. I started the Husmus Social Circle. It’s a completely free forum for people dealing with the same struggles I am as an anxious person in a face-to-face, networking world. The site is still in its infancy, as I plan to grow it using the feedback I get from the members (yes, we have members!). So pop on over and check it out if you get the chance and want to join in!

Audio:

  • Episode 25 of Baily Hancock’s Stop Collaborate & Listen Podcast with Sydney Gilbert, Founder & CEO (and Intern and Head of Finance…) of Sydney Gilbert Creative
  • Episode 44 of Sara Weinreb’s Medium Well Podcast: Practical and mystical tools for building and scaling a wellness startup with Michelle Pellizzon of Holisticism

Graphics:

  • Messy.fm

Graphic’s Back- Alright!

audio:

  • Episode 22 of Baily Hancock’s Stop Collaborate and Listen Podcast- Jessica Ruhfus, Founder & CEO of Collabosaurus

graphics:

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Who is Listening the Most_

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Matty Staudt's

Plus TheMessy newsletter is back!  Click the Subscribe button at the bottom of the Messy.fm FAQ page to get free helpful content weekly!  Banner made by me 🙂

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  • I also made these cute little stickers for when I share my work on social media! 🤗

Check out my Instagram stories to see them in action!

Let’s Get Personal!

What I’ve Been Really Into This Week:

  • Barter & Be.  It’s a site that connects small business entrepreneurs so they can exchange essential goods and services without utilizing capital… and it’s all females and all amazing.  It’s completely free and I’ve been on it for maybe 2 days now?  Still obsessed.
  • These Work/Life Balance + Free Planner Templates from Wayfarer Design Studio.  They’re free when you sign up for their e-mail list!  As a freelancer, it can be tricky balancing my free time and work time- but some of the templates are pre-filled out with examples which is SO helpful!
  • Did I fall further into the world of mysticism and astrology after editing Sara Weinreb’s podcast with Emmalea Russo of the Avant Galaxy?  Yes.  Did I pre-order her Avant-Galaxy Leo Season Astroplanner?  HECK yes.

Okay, Onto the Work:

Audio:

  • Episode 19 of Baily Hancock’s Stop Collaborate and Listen podcast with guest Natasha Case- CEO & Co-Founder of COOLHAUS Ice Cream
  • Episode 38 of Sara Weinreb’s Medium Well podcast- Solo episode: Plastic Free July and getting started with sustainable living
  • Episode 5 of Single Daddy Daily- How to Co-Parent Consistently

Graphics:

_We started our first podcast only a few months earlier and were approached with a partnership opportunity. Since we are new in this industry I am so happy that I scheduled a Podcast Monetization call with Messy.f
How long are listeners

A Busy Start to July

Audio Work:

Sara Weinreb’s Medium Well Podcast:

Drew Manning and Evan DeMarco’s Single Daddy Dailies Podcast:

Graphics:

Megan Bruneau:

Messy.FM:

5 Things Every Podcast Guest Must Have