Carly Schwartz, Editor – in – Chief of TRIX & Google Insider: On Getting Past Substance Dependence and Pursuing Happiness

Name: Carly Schwartz
Title: Editor in Chief of Google Insider at Google; Editor in Chief and Co-Founder of TRIX Magazine
Based in: San Francisco

Carly’s Career Thus Far: 

I studied journalism at Northwestern University. My first job out of college was San Francisco Magazine, and then I took a break from journalism and I worked on a political campaign for Jerry Brown, he was running for governor in California, and while I was doing that I started blogging for Huffington Post and that turned into a full time job offer for Huffington Post once the campaign ended. So i was at Huffington Post for 5 years, first as a front page editor and then I opened up the San Francisco bureau and ran that for a few years and then I moved back to NY to take on a role on the management team as Deputy National Editor. Then, I decided to take some time off for work and travel for a little bit; I moved first to Mexico City for a microfinance fellowship and I did a lot of writing about sustainability and women in indigenous communities and then from there I moved to Panama where I opened up a journalism program at an eco-village in the jungle and then I ran out of money and needed to go to the dentist so I moved back to San Francisco. I got a job at Google, and I’ve been at Google for the past 2 and a half years, running their internal news platform. And then on the side, I am EIC of a new women’s magazine called TRIX.

——

1. In your words, who are you?

Carly: I’m a writer and a storyteller… I am a world traveler. I am someone who struggled with mental illness, but uses it as a force for good. I am curious, ambitious, spontaneous and openminded.

2. You mentioned on a former Medium post that you were bipolar and were also depressed. Did you share this with your friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues? And if so, for what reason or when?

Carly:  I don’t think I’m bipolar. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I actually just have major depression. For 2 and a half years I thought I was bipolar and I told everyone I was bipolar. I had a manic episode that was induced by severe substance abuse and I’m really open about all of it. I think it’s really important to be open– it’s sort of my life purpose, to break down all the stigmas, so depression, bipolar, addiction, it’s all the same to me it’s all the same class of afflictions and i think it’s really important to talk openly about all of it. 

I didn’t know I had depression until I was 21. 

When did you start taking antidepressants? 

I became suicidal in college and went to a therapist and started taking antidepressants then. First I thought it was generalized anxiety disorder and it sort of morphed into depression. I’ve pretty much been on antidepressants every since. The only time I was off them was when I had the manic episode, so that was kind of scary. 

You have cut off alcohol and drugs to become the best version you can be. What events compelled you to make this leap? 

I was really depressed. I couldn’t get out of bed, except for parties and so I would go on these crazy benders and then I would get in bed for a week and then leave to party again and I just started to feel like my partying was out of control. I realized I hadn’t experienced happiness without the help of drugs and alcohol in a really long time, maybe ever, and I just hit my limit. I told my therapist about all the drugs that I was doing and she suggested that I needed help.

3. Describe your wellness regimen if you have one. What are some actions you take to keep yourself well? (please be as specific as possible in what you do!)

Carly: My number one thing that I do is that I’m sober. I am 8 and a half months sober. My mental health would get worse because I had a drug problem and I was using the drug to make myself feel better because I was so depressed. Staying sober has been the primary thing that keeps my mental illness at bay and I haven’t experienced depression at all since I got sober. So long as I can keep drugs and alcohol out of my body, I feel like the best version of myself. So that’s pretty much number one. That’s the number one “wellness” thing that I do.

I try to do yoga at least once a week. I try to walk everywhere so that I’m getting at least some kind of physical activity every day [and I don’t like doing to the gym]– I’ll walk across San Francisco for like 3 and a half miles, you know, that kind of thing.

What else?

I limited myself to one coffee a day because I have bad anxiety too, and other than that, I take my antidepressants religiously, I keep plants in my room, I journal, and I try to meditate, although I’m not very successful with it, and I see my therapist once a week. 

4. Do you use any apps or refer to any websites/blogs/thoughtblogs that you feel have directly impacted your wellbeing?

Carly: No, and I don’t use them deliberately. I think my phone is a deterrent to my wellbeing so I try to use it as little as possible.

5. As a very driven professional, would  “work” tie closely with your idea of your wellness? 

Carly at the launch party of TRIX Magazine

Carly: I spent my entire life defining myself based on my career, and it didn’t work for me. Obviously. I was depressed. I think the moment I stopped defining myself based on my career and started thinking about my job as a means to an end so that I could focus on things I’m really passionate about, that is when I started experiencing happiness and calm in my day to day life. But I think purposeful work is what makes for a satisfactory existence, a rich and fulfilling existence, so I found a lot of purpose in my magazine that I work on outside my day job; it’s a passion project and it’s incredibly fulfilling and feels very meaningful to me and I’ve also found a lot of purpose in the work that I do with mental health organizations and with writing workshops that I facilitate and with work that I do with alcoholism and illness. So none of that is paid work, but that.. is what defines me now.

So you’re meaning to say that Work so long as it’s tied with your purpose and fulfillment, that’s the only time you’ve seen it improve your wellness?

Carly: Yea, when my work feels purposeful, then my wellbeing is good.

6. Wellness and happiness – do you think they come hand in hand?

Carly: I think happiness is a temporary condition and wellness is a permanent condition. I think having a good wellness regimen can lead to moments of extreme happiness; it can be a foundation for happiness to grow from, but happiness is momentary and it’s possible to experience it when you’re not well.

7. When you envision your life of wellness, what does that look like to you if you were to draw yourself and your life out, whether it be from the framing of a regimen or lifestyle?

Carly: I think it would be what I’m already doing plus eating healthier, doing more yoga and meditating everyday. But, I’ve come a long way so I’m okay with not being perfect in this area just yet.

8. What are some companies that are developing smart products with positive impact that you admire? 

Carly: Not really. I think Google does a good job. And this goes against my thing, “I don’t use apps,” but I think Headspace is doing a good job.

[I don’t use it though].

Interviewed and transcribed by Susan Im

Connect with Carly here

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