Entrepreneurs are, by and large, creators. They are people who have ambition, vision, and big dreams to create something out of nothing. And while success as defined in American as wealth, luxury lifestyles and the perceived freedom that comes with financial independence are the envy of many, when you look behind the social media image, we find what author Nassir Ghaemi calls “A first-rate madness.” The genius that makes an entrepreneur successful is also, to some extent, a link to mental health issues of depression.
I want to be clear about a couple of things.
I do know that the stresses of living a high-profile, creative, and/or entrepreneurial life can take their toll on people, both physically and emotionally.
I don't have all the answers. I’m just trying to find a way in a complicated and challenging world.
I have, however, learned a few things along both my personal entrepreneurial journey and my coaching journey of walking alongside successful entrepreneurs that have helped in navigating challenging situations involving depression.
There is a difference between depression as a mental illness and depression brought on by the challenging circumstances you find yourself in.
While in the past even entertaining that idea that ‘I might be suffering from the effects of a mental illness and/or its effects' was something we shoved from our consciousness. Fortunately, this stigma has started to change into a more honest and understanding view of the matter. So the question to ask is:
'Have I suffered from depression my whole life, or is this something new?’
In many cases, anxiety and other symptoms are biological. No matter what you try to do, or how you try to cope, you won’t be able to run away from the underlying biological problem. There are, fortunately, solutions and treatments out there that can help.
So please do not be afraid to ask for help from a medical profession.
But if what you are experiencing is relatively new … there’s a good chance that it is circumstantial. So keep things in perspective.
If what you’re experiencing is relatively new for you, there’s a reasonable chance that it is mostly circumstantial. This is where I can offer some insight, having dealt with this type of emotional stress firsthand.
Keep things in perspective
Several well recognized publications (Business Insider / Forbes) have published articles about the depression epidemic in the entrepreneurial community. While only 7% of the general population report suffering from depression, a whopping 30% of entrepreneurs report dealing with its effects.
That statistic is staggering but entirely believable!!
Entrepreneurship is an intensely personal journey, and it’s incredibly difficult to separate your identity from the business that you’re trying to create. Soon, business setbacks (of which there are many) seem like personal setbacks, and depression can quickly take root.
There are two key areas to look at.
Your identity is NOT your business. However many of us started from a place where if asked ‘who are you’ our answer would be ‘I am CEO of XYZ’. But if we are open to digging deeper, we come to realize that that is what you do. That is NOT who we are. Each of us is so much more than that. Each of us, regardless of
o whether we sweep floors
o have had many more business setbacks than we feel like we can stand
o run a successful Fortune 500 company
are God’s masterpieces.
· We have to keep things in perspective. Life, like business, is a journey full of ups and downs.
When talking to my entrepreneur clients going through tough times, I often encourage them to think back to high school. For most of us, there were moments in our high school lives that seemed to be monumentally crucial that in retrospect seem childish.
Sure at the time, the pain and anxiety that we experienced were real and raw. However, the further in the past that situation is, the less painful it becomes.
So while today’s problems right now seem insurmountable, it’s important to realize these too will pass and fade in time.
Don’t be afraid to get help.
While much of my life I felt alone, I am fortunate that in the latter decades of my life I have developed a fantastic support network I can call on when I need help. My family, my friends, and my mentor/coach are there when I need them, whether it’s to listen to my struggles or to lend a hand.
Not everyone is as lucky. Entrepreneurs need to be able to reach out and get help when they need it. This can be difficult in a world where everyone feels the need to be “crushing it” all the time. Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness … and appearing weak is a sign of vulnerability that many entrepreneurs do not want to show … for many reasons (a topic for another discussion).
We in the entrepreneurial community need to step out of our own denial … and by doing so we will help change this mentality. Every entrepreneur on the planet should feel free to get help without the fear of judgment, and it’s going to take
a few courageous entrepreneurs to seek help for themselves
a few strong influencers to initiate the change.
So remember that you’re not alone. Keep your challenges in perspective … get help … and live to fight another day.
As a successful professional / successful entrepreneur who is used to getting what he/she sets his/her mind to, you may be able to climb out of your sense of depression on your own. But many of my clients, people just like you, find that this is not a journey they want to and need to take on their own. I would be happy to join you on this journey, a journey that may be one of the most important, if not the most important one, you have started today. Just give me a call. Blessings to you and yours.