Entrepreneurial Depression: I Felt Like I Was Spiralling Deep Into a Dark Hole
Being an entrepreneur has never been more desirable, and I should know because I am one.
At 34 I have ticked a few boxes: business contracts ending, emotionally and financially straining business and two miscarriages,
Despite living what some might think is the “entrepreneurial dream” – I have suffered from depression in my success and failures.
The dark cloud was over my head and I was starting to suffocate and desperately needed change. My passion for what I was doing was slowly dying.
My job is to help people not to get into depression and live a stress free life and yet I was silently suffering from depression and thought it would never affect someone like me.
I ignored the symptoms for a long time and because I worked in wellness industry I just called it “stress” or “burnout”. But somehow it as taking longer for me to snap out of it, rather I felt like I was spiralling deep into a dark hole. How could you have depression if you have a booming business, a nice house, loving family, great friends and everyone looks up to you?
I’d been able to hide it for years, even from myself, because I had been working so hard. But when I started getting panic attacks, high blood pressure, suffering from migraines, having to stay in bed for days at a time and generally working under a cloud of fog, I knew I needed to do something about it.
Given the huge pressure that most founders come under during the early days of a business, it is actually even more likely that they’ll get it. I didn’t know what it was before, but now I know the signs, I see it happen to people all the time. It is such a taboo subject that nobody ever wants to talk about because of the fear of being seen as a failure.
I started having difficulty concentrating and making decisions. I could not remember details. I was always tired as if a vacuum cleaner was sucking out my energy. I was filled with guilt and worthlessness. I would keep awake or sleep late into the afternoon. I was losing interest in what I loved doing. I lost my appetite for food and was constantly anxious with an empty feeling. I felt that I could not speak to anybody about my troubles because I felt nobody would understand.
In such a dire situation, the creation of support systems becomes imperative. To be honest, the following might seem stupidly simple. But it is what helped me, and I hope it helps someone else too:
Reach out to your friends.
Doesn’t matter if you think they won’t understand. Your good friends should and will give you a helping hand in any way they can. Have a little faith in them.
Reach out to a psychologist
Especially if you feel that you cannot talk to your friends. It really helps to be able to talk to some absolute stranger. You are less constrained, and you feel lighter after “someone else shares your burden.”
Deliberately bring structure to your life
It started off with a very basic schedule which I made, for instance: daily reading, calls to family, listening to music, and prayer.
Do fun and inspiring stuff
This is very important, I feel. Being a socialite helped me and I started networking and engaging in interesting topics and laughing a lot.
Stay away from booze and toxic relationships.
I say this because it is very easy to lose control during a depressive phase.
Look towards the future.
Imagine your life in the future, and start thinking of ways to get there. This might seem like a trivial exercise, but it helps to break you out of the loop.
If you keep seeing the steps to your ideal life right in front of you, you might just take one of them! And soon you will find that ‘this too shall pass’ as my friend Thabo Malapile always put it; is actually true!
Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Entrepreneur, founder of W.E.Y and business mentor at The Hope Factory
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Being an entrepreneur has never been more desirable, and I should know because I am one. At 34 I have ticked a few boxes: business contracts ending, emotionally and financially straining business and two miscarriages, Despite living what some might think is the “entrepreneurial dream” – I have suffered from depression in my success and…
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