A CEO’s Story With PTSD

CW: Childhood Trauma, Domestic Violence, PTSD, Anxiety, Suicidal Ideation, Homelessness.

As the year began, I took an ambitious step towards reducing mental health stigma among executives. With my YouTube channel ‘CEO with PTSD‘ as a platform for conversation and awareness-raising on this critical issue, I’m striving to bring understanding between people in positions of power and those who struggle through their innermost fears every day.


Ming Johanson - CEO with PTSD

After an arduous journey of learning to understand and care for my mental health over the last 8 years, I have overcome many obstacles: from PTSD & Anxiety Disorder to ADHD and Diabetes. Being courageous enough to seek help has profoundly changed how I live every day – yet there is still much work left for me on this path towards continual growth and wellness.


The Perfect Therapy Burger.

Like searching for the perfect burger, finding a great therapist can be tricky because we often end up settling – but that’s not ideal. It’s essential to me to look beyond mere credentials and seek someone willing to challenge me instead of letting my tactics go unnoticed.

I spent the first 17 years of my life in a violent environment, at which point some mismanagement of finances resulted in my parents and I becoming homeless. I have often said that homelessness was a bad situation that got me out of a worse situation.

The work never stops.

I constantly work on overcoming anxiety around:

  • Low self-worth,
  • Financial well-being,
  • Bad boundaries,
  • Low-level anxiety about payroll,
  • A crushing tax bill I never feel fully prepared for,
  • Am I doing enough for the team,
  • Am I setting my team up for failure,
  • Am I a good leader?
  • Am I doing enough to communicate,
  • Am I overcommunicating to my team,
  • Am I communicating enough to my clients,

A lot of managing the above ensures I’m in the right role and not just distracting myself into a short grave.

Are you busy for the sake of being alive?

Being busy is a badge of honour for many, and often responses like ‘Oh, I’m so busy right now’ can be heard at networking events. Instead of merely running on the proverbial hamster wheel, why not strive to “get ahead” and make progress? If you’re feeling overwhelmed this week, try changing your outlook with an encouraging question that seeks forward motion!

What is your evidence collecting for?

We all face difficult decisions that decide the arc of our lives. Will you allow yourself to break free from convention and seek the truth in the shadows? Or will your courage burn brightly as you uncover a more noble path for yourself? The answer lies within. Every day we have an opportunity to discover how much potential exists inside us; if we search hard enough, it’s easy to find evidence either way – both admirable qualities exist side by side. Which path do you choose?

Know a CEO with PTSD? Share the YouTube channel! I produce content semi-regularly every couple of days, and they remain short and quick to consume.

Want someone to chat to? Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Liked this article? Share it!
About Ming Johanson
Ming works with businesses across the globe from business development to managing (with her team) complex digital strategies that deliver tangible and desirable financial returns. Recently recognised and awarded for her ongoing contribution to the technology industries in the 2019 Women In Technology Tech [+] 20 Awards, Ming is a passionate mental health Ambassador for R U OK? Day, a mentor at Startup Weekend Perth and a regular Australian Media Commentator as a Tech Evangelist on a range of topics in Mental Health, Social Media & Technology.