Prioritising Yourself: Navigating Mental Health and Careers [Patrick O’Connor]

Some people call it “work-life balance”.

That is, finding the perfect mix of these two extremes on the spectrum of life.

I prefer to refer to this equilibrium as “passion vs play”. Some things in life require dogged determination, hard work and unyielding passion to achieve, but some things should simply be just for play – pure fun.

This week’s guest is Patrick O’Connor. Patrick is a former Insurance Adviser, a human rights activist, a self-described severe mental illness survivor and Founder of The Killing Zone.

He is the author of The Prescribed Deaths report, which exposes how pharmaceutical companies have illegally excluded deadly side effects from Australian prescription medication warnings, for over 20 years.

Shortly after his 40th birthday, Patrick O’Connor sat in his car outside his work and noticed that his tank was empty. Not the fuel in his car, but the fuel for his life. He was faced with an ultimatum: to keep on depleting his lifeforce with the relentless corporate lifestyle or retire and focus on his mental health and treat his condition.

He retired soon after.

The Killing Zone

Patrick’s report “Prescribed Deaths – Life in the Killing Zone” is a lived experience report on the Australian healthcare system, that details multiple systemic issues and how they are costing lives every day.

But before it gets to the point of treating mental illness we can look after ourselves by addressing a simple, but fundamental, issue prevalent in today’s society: the work-life, or passion-play, balance.

Patrick explains this in a beautifully simplistic way:

“You have to engineer your life so you enjoy it. You’re only here once” 

He explains you have to have a work-life (or passion-play) balance that works for you. This not only is beneficial for mental health and preventing burnout, but it also improves your performance in the workplace.

Patrick had reached the point where stepping away from his job was the only option – a decision that he didn’t make lightly, but has no regrets about. He now advocates mental health so that no one else has to enter the killing zone.

Connect with Patrick:

Find out more:

If you need any support after listening to this episode, please know that there are organisations that can support you 24/7:

  • Lifeline – call 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – call 1300 22 4636

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