Whether it is anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or countless other mental conditions, it really is time we stop brushing mental health issues at work under the rug, especially in the entrepreneurial community.
Entrepreneurship in general is incredibly challenging for a plethora of reasons. Some of the inherent challenges when building a company include the fact that you need money to build a product, but in order to raise money, you need a product. Additionally, to get users for your app, you need it to have value, but in order for it to have value, you need users.
Entrepreneurship is really not for everyone, and when someone tells me they want to be an entrepreneur, my immediate response is always, "No, you don't. You might want to experience what you think is the glory of building a tech company, but that is not real life. You only see the success; you don't see what went into it. You don't want to be an entrepreneur. Either you are one or you're not."
I've spoken to countless founders who are experiencing depression and anxiety lately, which often cause a sort of paralysis. It's hard to move, let alone be productive.
Here are some things you can do to try to minimize the sadness and maximize the productivity:
Take a breather and focus on what's important.
We often get blinded by the trees and totally miss the forest. Try to stop, close your eyes, and envision the forest. Your family, your friends, the people who love you, they haven't and won't ever go anywhere. Focus on them, on what you have, not on what you don't have.
Start journaling every day, privately or publicly.
I've been doing this privately for months, and truth be told, when I look back at what I've written, some of it is very dark and scary. Having said that, the ability to express your emotions in words is incredibly important and will lighten the weight on your heart if you do it consistently.
Again, you don't have to publish it. You can save it as a note on your phone, but I will say one thing. I've gotten tremendous strength by the fact that many people have read my gratitude lists and thanked me for writing them, telling me it really helped them emotionally.
Don't forget to breathe.
Well, that sounds kinda silly. I mean, if we don't breathe, we die. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about the act of breathing. I'm talking about doing it right. Breathe in for a few seconds through your nose, hold it in for about four seconds, and then let it out as if you were blowing into a straw. The exhale process should take around seven seconds. Do this several times a day. It seems so trivial. It's not. You'll see.
Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen.
This might work for some and make things worse for others. Try to give yourself some perspective. Think about what's making you sad or anxious and then take it to the extreme. What's the absolute worst-case scenario and can you survive it? Unless we are talking about something seriously severe, the answer is yes, you can and will survive it. You'll be OK. Remember that.
Find your real friends and confide in them. Talk it out.
This is one of the perks of going through a hard time. You see clearly who your real friends are. You see who stands with you, who supports you, and who ditches you. This is a blessing in disguise. You won't want to waste time investing in a fake friendship that will go nowhere, and dealing with mental health is a great filtering mechanism to see who sticks around and who runs because of the stigma or something else.
I'm writing this article primarily for me as I struggle myself, but the internet has granted me the "luxury" of knowing I'm not alone and that millions of people are struggling with me. While that's sad and tragic for them, it gives me a little strength to know I'm not alone.
You'll get past this. We all will. For now, try to focus on the positive and flush out the dark liquid you feel is filling up your chest and stomach.
If all else fails, you can reach out to me and we can provide each other's misery with some company.