Mendl Movement Journal #7 - William Balme

10.12.2020
The management of the many natural fluctuations of one’s own mental health has been a defining experience for William Balme, and an experience that has progressed concurrently with the production of his own documentary. Coincidentally, about his journey with mental health. Our co-founder Mark sat down with William to discuss his experience on being a voice in the mental health sphere, the importance of conversations, and the positives that 2021 has to hold for us all.
Mendl Movement Journal Will Balme

"For a fair while I avoided a lot of things. As is probably pretty common with people with anxiety, I avoided the things I loved. I slumped based on decisions I had made, but also that I had reached a point where I needed to take stock and consider where I actually was."

  

M.L - "You and I have known each other for a long time mate, given we went to school together way back when. Obviously, it was 10 years of our lives that went by, what was your experience with your own mental health over that time?"

W.B - "Going back is interesting. I think a really important part of growing up is reflecting on where we've been. Our journeys are very difficult to understand in what's going on underneath the surface. Those 10 years, when you talk about it like that, time really flew. All of a sudden you're 30, but really life goes very slowly in the way that you're progressively learning about yourself. My 10 years, to summarise is a pretty difficult thing. There has been a lot that's happened, and a lot of things that I had to both very quickly, and very slowly learn. Particularly in the sense of anxiety it has been really challenging at times. When you're 17 and 18, you think that the world is at your feet, and it is in some respects, but you've also got a lot to learn is what I realised".

"In the past 10 years I feel like I've faced great adversities, but I've also had a lot of great times as well, and made a lot of great friends. Hence, in hindsight the 10 years feels difficult, but I can attest to the fact that there has been a hell of a lot of learning. I can really look back with pride about how far I have come."

  

M.L - "What are some of the things you went through?"

W.B - "I suppose I always had an anxious disposition. But it was exacerbated by decisions I made, but also life itself. Reaching dead ends, studying things that I wasn't invested in, or making decision that weren't necessarily good for me mentally really exacerbated my anxiety. And the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder, completely changed my life. For a fair while I avoided a lot of things. As is probably pretty common with people with anxiety, I avoided the things I loved. It was really challenging in the sense that I felt like I wasted a lot of time. There were also a few key moments when I slumped, and I slumped based on decisions I had made, but also that I had reached a point where I needed to take stock and consider where I was at. And it was tremendously difficult. They are still things that challenge me to this day. Saddening in a way that it happened, but at the same time I learned so much, and I can really look back with pride about how far I have come."

Mendl Movement Journal William BalmeM.L - "At Mendl, we are really interested in this idea of conversations, and the benefits that conversations can potentially have on someone’s mental health. What do you think conversations mean to you, and has it been something that you have utilised over the course?"

W.B - "Conversations are everything I suppose. I now have conversations with friends and family, and I learn so much from just simply listening to them. And sometimes it is very difficult to listen, listening is a skill that takes a long time to master - and I am still so far away from being able to really hear someone the way I would like to. Sometimes people are talking about these things for the first time - they've potentially been sitting on them for up to 5-10 years, maybe longer, and it is an incredibly important conversation to them.

"Conversations are incredibly important, they are critical to take stock of where you are but to also figure out where you are going to. I love to have conversations with people who are ready to open up and be transparent and honest, because I think that we are all trying to work on becoming more honest with ourselves."


M.L - "I think one of the biggest things we've learned was in regards to listening - It's the conversations that’s received, and how it is received, that can have a big impact on whether that conversation will be had again".

Mendl Movement Journal - William Balme

M.L - "Will, you are producing a documentary with good friend Vinnie - do you want to tell us a little bit about it?"

W.B - "It started off, and I think we thought it was a short, 10 minute documentary over a couple of months, and it has turned out that we have filmed over a few years now. The documentary is called 'Letters To My Anxiety' and it started because initially I wrote a lot of blogs about anxiety, and it was the first time that I had opened up to my entire circle of family and friends. I was going through an incredibly difficult period personally, but sharing that was really important to me. Near the end of my London journey, I was very grateful to meet Vinnie and start working with him on it - and we've filmed across a number of years, finally coming to an end soon I think. The best thing about it is that there is so much more that we can go on with after the release, because there are so many more conversations to be had into the future".

Mendl Movement Journal William Balme

Video and production by Third Space Studios
Photography by Tyrone Jones