Running a business with depression and anxiety part 2

Hello you amazing people. You may remember a while ago I wrote a post on managing depression while running a business. The messages of support and solidarity were so incredible and helpful. I had literally hundreds of messages, comments and tweets from beautiful people sharing their very personal experiences. It was comforting beyond belief to know so many of us were in it together.

But as all depression sufferers will know, following your own advice is tough. I’m in a wonderful place in my life, I’m four months from marrying the love of my life, I have a thriving business with continuing magazine coverage and my own column launching in an incredible new magazine this month. So what’s holding me back? Well, quite honestly? My own head.

Despite all these objectively fantastic achievements, I can’t seem to cut myself any slack. My attempts to celebrate my successes seem hollow and fill me with anxiety. I’ve been trudging from day to day without any real enthusiasm – no achievement, no matter how monumental it would usually be for me personally, is really sinking in. John told me he was proud of me the other day and I just looked back blankly, finally realising that I’m not really proud of myself. I feel like my head and my energy is elsewhere and these things are happening TO me, not because of me.

It took me a long time to come to the realisation that perhaps I’m scared of success. That fear, driven by my depression and anxiety issues, leads me to self sabotage and prevent myself from fully committing to doing the best I possibly can. I think this is for two reasons:

♥ If I do the best I can and people don’t like it, it will be a real rejection and may mean I’m inadequate.
♥ If I do the best I can and succeed, the only way is down.

As a result comes the crippling fear – can people see my doubts in my writing? Am I not connecting with people anymore? Am I losing my audience?

Running a business alongside painful feelings of self doubt and low self worth can be next to impossible. The successes of others start to make you panic that you’re falling behind, that you’re holding yourself back just that moment too long to come back from.

So what am I doing about it?

Well, first of all I’m recognising my limitations. I’m one person running a business, doing freelance work, planning a wedding, writing for a magazine and planning a huuuuuge event in June (two months before my wedding). I’m also a partner, a friend, a daughter and so many other roles that take time and attention. So if I don’t get everything done in one day, is it really surprising? I talked about list making in my last post, but it still stands. Making a list of realistic objectives for the day does make me feel better, instead of trying to get it all done at once.

I’m also confronting things. When a difficult question comes up, my tendency is to avoid the situation and hope it will go away. That can lead me to avoid my computer in case it gets followed up, avoid my phone for the same reason and generally isolate myself, when, with a bit of courage, the situation could be resolved quite easily. Tackling the difficult issues head on helps me to face the next day stronger – I think that might even be what I’m doing writing this piece in the first place.

Finally I’m working on my confidence. A lot of my anxieties come from the core belief that nothing I do could be any good. Kat from Rock’n’Roll Bride wrote this brilliant piece on building confidence and I’ve been reading it every day. A confession? I’m one of the people Kat kindly referred to anonymously who asked her if they could borrow some of her confidence. The piece has helped me get back into “the zone”, and the advice is really working for me.

Depression comes and goes. One thing that’s getting me through this current spell of inertia, exhaustion and low self esteem is knowing that it will pass. I’ve been here before, I’ll come out of it and I’ll be here again. What’s so important to me is the wonderful UTVV community which has really started to feel like a little family. I’m so blessed to be able to be honest on this blog and so lucky to have people around who understand and offer advice (you know who you are)!

So if you’re going through a rough patch, please remember that it gets better. Feeling alive doesn’t always come easily, but when it returns it will be the best feeling ever. I’m just looking forward to that.

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