Why is it ok to say you’ve got a headache, or the flu or a broken leg, but it’s not ok to say you feel depressed ?
We don’t often talk about mental health in relation to running a business.
It still has a stigma attached to it, as if by talking about problems with mental health you might bring them on, like a nasty virus you might catch.
I think it’s important to talk about mental health, and to make it acceptable to be more open about it, so that when we’re ‘not ok’, it’s easier to ask for and receive help.
The mask we normally present to the world says “I’m ok, you’re ok” (and everything’s rosy)
But what if you feel sad, tearful, distracted, despairing and wondering why on earth you feel that way ?
What if you feel awful….where do you go from there?
I’d been feeling very tired, tearful, and distracted for over 2 months, but I didn’t do anything about it until a conversation with a friend ‘woke me up’.
She helpfully suggested that two months is a long time to be feeling so bad and that I should go to the doctor to get checked out.
It never occurred to me to go to the doctor, I thought it was just something I had to put up with.
As it turned out, the doctor was very sympathetic. Blood tests revealed I was anaemic, so there was a physical reason for my tiredness.
I started opening up to people more about how I felt.
Friends and family supported me, listened patiently as I cried out my thoughts and worries, and suggested things I could do to help me feel better.
Most importantly, they showed me that it’s ok to feel mentally unwell; it’s very common and nothing to be ashamed of – it’s just part of being human.
Things that can help you feel well again:
I’ve shared in the past an energy technique that will help you release negative intrusive thoughts from your mind.
If you’re feeling low for a prolonged period, and not sure how to get out of it, here’s some things that helped me, and they might help you too.
1. Talk to sympathetic friends and family.
The more I talked and admitted how I actually felt, the easier it all seemed to deal with.
(and the more I felt lighter, just for a while, and that things would get better).
Pretending that things are fine and dandy when they’re not is another form of self sabotage ……acknowledging how you really feel is the first step to feeling better.
2. Find the courage to go the doctor.
Find a sympathetic doctor and allow yourself to be honest about how things are. It’s important to diagnose or eliminate physical causes too.
(If I hadn’t gone to my GP I never would have known that I was also anaemic).
3. Take time out
… from your business and from as many other responsibilities as possible.
I allowed myself several weeks off – to stop, switch off, start to take good care of myself.
I took time to smell the flowers in my garden.
I listened to the birds and gazed at the deer in the fields.
I drew strength and comfort from being in nature and realised that life still carries on even when I take my foot off the gas for a while.
Sometimes we all just need to take time out.
If you can take a week or two then do it. Even if you can only take a long weekend – allow yourself to stop, switch off and do things that nurture you.
4. Arrange some fun social events to attend
… even if you can’t be sure you’ll survive them.
When you’re feeling down, there’s a tendency as an introvert to shrink back even further and avoid meeting people.
Meeting both new people and familiar faces, doing things I wouldn’t usually do helped to brighten me up no end.
(I joined a new choir – and found another outlet for my joy of singing)
It might seem trite and obvious, but finding a way to get out and try new things will change your outlook and make you feel brighter.
It might feel really tough at first, but it will help you.
Your mental health is simply one more aspect of you that needs to be acknowledged and cared for.
When you feel brighter and more yourself then you can return to your life and resume your business activities more effectively.
This experience of depression has served as a huge lesson for me – in noticing how I’m feeling, not allowing myself to become too isolated, and making sure that both my physical and my mental health are my number one priority.
I stumbled my way into pressing my ‘reset button’ – and regained peace, perspective and a new understanding of how I operate in my life and business.
When you find yourself in darkness, keep going, there’s always a chink of light to guide your way.