Pursuing something more than we have is an innate mission most of us feel deep in our core. Our parents want better for us, we want better for ourselves and for our children. In fact, most of us spend our lives so fixated on “living the dream” that we forget to live the life that is directly in front of us.
This ideation of achieving “the dream” is something that can kill an entrepreneur. And especially those entrepreneurs that suffer from clinical depression.
The disease certainly isn’t unique to entrepreneurs, but the internal force of being an entrepreneur, particularly when you grasping to launch your startup or when your company is fizzling, coupled with depression can be completely debilitating.
As an entrepreneur, we get kicked countless times — but each time we pick ourselves back up in our pursuit to conquer the world. We struggle to connect the idea puzzle pieces, find co-founders we can trust and find customers who will endure the crazy ride with us.
We sleep on floors when we struggle to bootstrap — and we struggle with VC relationships when we finally land the funding. Our nights are filled with tattered dreams of hockey sticks and unicorns.
And sometimes because of this tremendous pressure — we give up.
If you’ve never battled with depression it can be difficult to understand. Spouses of those inflicted with the disease are probably the closest ones that will ever feel the effects, without actually having the disease.
But as someone who personally fights this fight, I can tell you that those guys and girls are still far off the mark of understanding what depression truly feels like.
It’s difficult to fully comprehend the power of the brain, and how chemical imbalances can cause fully rational and intelligent human beings to turn into something completely irrational. I recently read a post from Brad Feld where he describes depression as “an emotional pain that is significantly worse than almost all physical pains you could imagine, especially because it seems to go on forever”.
He is right.
To make matters worse, our society still continues to cast an incredible stigma against associated with depression. So together, we need to do better. We can start by:
This means not judging yourself. For your sake — give yourself a damn break. Personally, I know that the only enemy that can take me down is the one inside my own head – and I can bet you are in the same camp. So give yourself the freedom to relax and just be in the present.
Be open to sharing your burdens with others that will help you shoulder them. I suck at this, but finding an ear to talk to is sometimes the best way out of the clouds.
Taking care of yourself
As a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, dedicated team member, full-time entrepreneur and philanthropist — to say take time for myself is nothing short of a belly busting joke.
But here’s the reality — if I don’t, then I likely won’t be around to support those people I care so much about for much longer. I’ve recently started practicing Chade-Meng Tan’s groundbreaking mindfulness-based training program (you can grab his book “Search Inside Yourself” here) and this practice has really helped me to improve my current outlook on life and my ability to just be present.
Ok this part is hard for me because I don’t really watch TV. But as a part of our traditional family night, we started to watch comedies with the kids. You know the pee your pants Adam Sandler movies?
Sometimes we need to be present — but sometimes we need to escape to a funny land where reality is made into a joke. Try it and see if you aren’t smiling for at least a short time after.
This one is easy for me. I love books! But here’s the trick — don’t read those stupid self-help books. Read non-fiction to explore what you love (or think you love) and read fiction to explore the possibilities. Just don’t read those damn self-help books. Some of my favorite reads include The Untethered Soul and James Altucher’s Choose Yourself.
Not everyone who wades through this darkness will come out on the other side.
Many will be tattered and bruised as a result of the journey. But nevertheless, we must let the journey play out. Our family, friends and loved ones don’t want to bury us — they need us even if we think they would be better off without our nonsensical nonsense.
If you are distressed and can’t seem to find the glimmer of light — please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255.
Otherwise — stay strong and carry on — the world needs you.