Entrepreneurship and Depression: How to Fight Back
Hi there! I’m Marissa, a life coach for creative entrepreneurs living with depression and anxiety. For the longest time, I seemed to be searching for a purpose. I was looking for a deeper meaning to life beyond simply walking up every morning full of dread for the workday ahead, going to work in a bad mood, coming home from work to complain about how much I hated work, and going to bed, only to start the vicious cycle over again, day after day.
It truly made no sense to me that society was trapped in the philosophy and mindset that this was just the way life is. Everyone believed that no one was supposed to enjoy their job and if they did, it simply wasn’t work. I was convinced that there was more to life than what society was telling me.
My pivotal moment, when I knew what I was meant to do with my life, happened just moments after I surrendered for help with my battle against anorexia.
My Fight Against Mental Illness
I was 17 and placed in the adolescent unit for eating disorders within a psychiatric hospital. Only a few months shy of turning 18, I had no desire to keep living within the tight grasp of my eating disorder. I had wished for my heart to stop beating time after time, but for some reason, my soul refused to let go of my body.
A day into my hospitalization, a few young girls were admitted into my unit. They were only 11-13 years old. They were still children and yet they had nothing but complete disgust and hatred toward their bodies, their lives, their whole existence. It broke my heart while simultaneously lighting a fire under my ass.
I needed to beat my eating disorder. I needed to conquer my depression and eliminate my anxiety.
These girls were my first assignment. I had to show strength and find the smallest spark of happiness and let it fill me until I was radiating with smiles and love. As I took a more positive outlook on my hospitalization, the younger girls started to notice. They would look to me, almost as a big sister or a trusted lifelong friend, in search of hope and assurance that they would be okay. If we were given a tough meal to finish, they would look to me and once they saw how I was able to clean my plate, they would sigh and look at the mountain of food still left on their plate before taking a second attempt at finishing, knowing that it was the right thing to do.
@SPIESFitToFight\’s entrepreneurial journey started with mental illness. How about you?
With very simple actions, ultimately helping my own recovery, I was able to influence the recovery of these young girls. This was my turning point. This is when I learned that the more I was able to help myself, the more I’d be able to influence and help others. I had no idea that this was a career possibility, I just knew that I had finally found my passion and my greatest reason to live life.
How Depression Affects Entrepreneurship. . . And How to Fight Back
To bring it back to present day, the reason I’m writing these words to you, it’s because I want you to remember you’re not alone.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at the University of California, 1 in 3 entrepreneurs live with depression. That’s 30% of the entrepreneurial world! As business owners, we tend to align our personal success with the success of our actual business which is totally devastating to our mental health if our company flops or even flounders temporarily.
It’s critical to remember that your self-worth is not tied to the worth or success of your company.
If you’re focused more on the client facing side of things – for example, if you’re a writer or a designer working with multitudes of freelance clients – I have a life changing task for you. Are you ready? Here goes. . .
I’m asking you, right here, right now…. to tell your clients during the next appropriate engagement that you struggle with depression and anxiety.
Why? Because you’re human and 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a mental illness. You’re allowed to have bad days and you’re allowed to be vulnerable. In fact, the more vulnerable you become to your clients, the more I’ve seen clients respect and appreciate the work you provide them with.
In my case, I have a few freelance graphic design clients that I take on each year. Before working with a new client, I make it a point to share that I do struggle with depression and anxiety and that some days I am unable to put my best work forward. I ask that, on those days, they please respect that I will not be in communication with them, but I do have a system in place to finish all work to their satisfaction by the predetermined due date.
Honesty is always the best policy in these situations. The status of your mental health is much more important than checking your email every 12 minutes just to make sure a client didn’t ask for a dozen new (and usually bogus) revisions. By stating that you will only be available on specific days, you’re setting a strict guideline as to how and when a client can get hold of you. It shows that you’re in control of the project, which is why they are paying you in the first place. But the most important part of all of this is the more we talk about mental illness being present in our lives, the easier it will be to eliminate the stigma that mental illness is seen and surrounded by.
If You’re Not Ready for The Challenge or Want Help with Your Story
If you’re not 110% onboard with telling your clients that you live with a mental illness, but you want to help spread mental health understanding and awareness, I have a free gift for you. I created a course called Turning Wisdom Into Words and it will help you to vocalize your story with mental illness. By talking about mental illness, either openly with clients, or somewhat anonymously online, we are able to help eradicate the mental health stigma. The more we talk about it, the more ‘normal’ speaking about our struggles with mental help will be. It will no longer be a taboo topic and will eventually be talked about in the same light as cancer. We should not be fear talking about mental illness because there are so many of us who live our lives with it.
I hope this article served you and I hope that if you are someone living with depression or anxiety, that these words resonated with you and you are one step closer to living in the light.
Do you or someone you know struggle with mental health in entrepreneurship? What would you tell another entrepreneur who is struggling? Tell us in the comments and help fight back!
About the Author
I’m Marissa Panè, the voice behind SPIESFitToFight. As a teenager I was diagnosed with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and my life was almost cut short due to a harsh battle with anorexia. Since restoring my mental health, I’ve made it my mission to help anyone and everyone avoid the suffering that accompanies mental illness. It’s time to eliminate the mental health stigma and it’s time to radically love yourself and your life!
You can find me on my website: www.spiesfittofight.com