Illness meets Business
This blog post is in support of #MentalHealthAwareness week. Sharing what keeps me going may be helpful to some. Enjoy.
I have severe anxiety and depression. It's indescribable what I feel on bad days. Like today. Its not the first or last time. But each time, I try to find words to describe the feeling and what comes to mind is: hollow, indifferent, deeply sad, not being able to move. There is no telling when I'm going to have a bad day or when it's gonna get better. It just happens. I hate the unpredictability because as much as I try for it not to affect my life, it does. I cancel plans, I stop making plans, avoid people, cry a lot, sit and stare into space. Without thinking about anything else than "Why should I bother?", "it's not worth it" and "nobody cares anyway so why should I"? Continuing to grow a business while having these days and these types of thoughts in my head, all the time is challenging. Because of my anxiety, everything is ten times as stressful as to other people. I'm a perfectionist but only because I have this engraved thought in my head, a fear that I will never be good ENOUGH. Even if my results are great, I still believe I could've done better and scold myself for not trying hard enough. So I push harder and while that may sound like a benefit, I often burn out and end up on the verge of giving up. But I keep going. I'm living a fucking paradox though. Some days it feels like my brain has set out to make it as difficult as possible to string one rational thought together. The thoughts are contradicting. They are very negative. This is not a way of perspective, of mindset. It's far more than that. You will never understand the condition until you experience it yourself and I would not wish that on my worst enemy. It's a constant internal battle that is so draining, it's so tiring to keep on top of it all, to catch up with yourself, to constantly remind yourself that it's just chemicals in your brain tricking you in such nasty ways. It becomes so draining, so much to deal with that for some it can even provoke depressive state and suicidal thoughts...
So how do I do it? How do I keep going despite every inch of me wanting to stop?
I wake up some days and I do not get out of bed or find it very hard. I start my days with a battle already, a war in my mind - as to whether it is worth getting out of bed - with a very strong, convincing voice (not an actual voice) telling me I shouldn't.
It's those times, when I am on the verge of giving up, where I feel too weak to fight that day and I just want to shut the world out and be left alone - and not deal with it anymore - it's on those days, that I do a quick reality check with myself. It's almost like mediation.
I sit down, turn off all my screens, sometimes leave music on, and just focus on what's real. I think about all that I've done and list it - either on paper, on in my head. I focus really hard on the positive things in my life. The fact I have a roof over my head, have food, have family that love me, have friends that care for me. I think about what I've accomplished. There are definitely two main things that remind me that it will get better, and help me overcome an episode of an anxiety attack or prevent slipping further into my depression. People.
The same ones I avoid on the bad days, despite them being my everything. My parents, mainly. Without them, I don't think I would have the strength to keep going. They believe in me more than I do, they support me in all decisions. They've spent money, time and effort to see me succeed and it's the least I can do (succeed) for them in return. So I try. My friends. They've spent so much time and effort making sure I don't go crazy, being there for me whenever I need them, and for all the fun, too. They make sure I laugh, I eat, I dance, I let go. They see me fail and cheer when I succeed. So I try to. You Only Live Once.
I know, cliché. But just think about it for a second. We do only have one life. I want to live it to the fullest, find as many things, places, people, jobs, interests as humanly possible in all of the years I will live however many that may be. Life is so unexpected and fragile, I don't want this illness to deprive me of a chance to live it. Not just exist but live. I don't know what's next, I don't know if there is anything at all after this life. Why would I miss possibly only opportunity to experience this? Those two are main reasons why I keep going and in all honesty, I don't think there is much else. I don't need anything else. Just my beliefs, my friends and family, and a little hope. I hope that this illness won't take over completely one day and that I will overcome it eventually. I hope that it gets better because it must get better. My life won't be a miserable story, that's not who I am. Not who I really am. This illness may be tricking me into falling into a deep whole of darkness but I will forever look out for the light.
If you are struggling with a similar condition, surround yourself with people who love you and who make you happy and make you smile. Even if you feel you have nobody, I can guarantee that is not true. Humans look after other humans - it is in our nature. Don't be embarrassed. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues, the more we talk about it, the more we have a chance of being understood. Here's some links for professional help:
Super Helpful Self -Help tips from Mind.org