You’re a founder. You’re pursuing your dreams. You’ve got vision, mission, goals. You get to set your own schedule. You’re a #boss. This is what you dreamed of when you left your 9 to 5 corporate job. Right? Right! “Seek help” isn’t even on your radar.
But guess what? That does NOT mean this isn’t hard, nor does it mean that it doesn’t take a toll on your mental health.
What perfectly polished Instagram photos and captions don’t reveal are the hours of behind-the-scenes work, late nights grinding to get things off of the ground, the financial uncertainty that often comes with running your own business, the onslaught of others’ opinions when you do put yourself and your work out there, the fact that it’s honestly hard to completely take a vacation without bringing your laptop, and not to mention trying to take an extended maternity leave, paternity leave, or sabbatical.
The list goes on and on.
Quite often you think to yourself… “But I asked for this. I created this. I can’t complain or appear to be struggling when I’m supposed to be living my dream.”
Did you know that according to recent research performed at the University of San Francisco evaluating mental health among entrepreneurs found that entrepreneurs are twice as likely to suffer from depression, three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse, ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization, and twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts?
OH. MY. WORD. Could part of this be due to the pressure that comes with being an entrepreneur along with the fact that mental health is often disregarded in a world that tells you to hustle hard, not complain, and stay strong?
I don’t share these daunting statistics to be a “Debbie Downer,” but rather to shed light on a massive problem that is often hidden behind the glitz and glam of entrepreneur life.
Can I give you the freedom to admit it if you’re struggling?
It starts there, but I’m also going to give you some actionable steps to take towards healing.
Signs that you need to seek help for mental wellness:
You experience anhedonia.
This means that the things which typically bring you joy and pleasure no longer do, regardless of how much you try or want them to.
You are frequently* unable to perform usual daily tasks due to feelings of overwhelm, fear, anxiety, sadness, etc.
This may include taking your kids to school, leading a meeting, cooking dinner, or answering emails.
You experience the metabolic effects of a mental health disorder.
This includes unexplained lack of energy, loss of appetite, decreased libido, or shortness of breath / heart palpitations invoked by stress or anxiety, etc.
If your answer is yes to any of these three, I would encourage you to seek help. However, these are just a few examples to consider. If your answer to these questions was no but you think to yourself often, “I wonder if I should see a counselor or doctor about this?”, the probable answer is YES.
So what’s next? How do you start the process of healing? Trust me, friend, this does not and will not take victory over your one beautiful life, but it definitely will take some action on your part.
4 Steps Toward Improving Your Mental Health as You Seek Help
Step 1: Admit it. Bring it to light.
Don’t keep it a secret. I think you will be amazed at just how healing this first step actually is. A favored author, Jennie Allen, says that what is not brought to light often has power over you. We’re so afraid that if we admit our struggle, we will solidify it and the monster will rear its ugly head. However, more often than not, the exact opposite is true. Bringing it to light and then seeking the help needed is like cutting the monster’s feet right out from under him.
Step 2: Seek professional help.
As a women’s health clinician, I honestly recommend seeing both a counselor and a healthcare provider. Seek out trained and skilled professionals, not just your family and friends. Sometimes, there may be an underlying medical concern or a true chemical imbalance that needs to be addressed with your healthcare provider. Studies have also shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (i.e. counseling) is truly invaluable when it comes to true healing.
Step 3: Include your support system.
This simply means to include the trusted ones who will love, support, encourage, and speak truth to you. There is power in community, and we truly need each other. This doesn’t mean that you have to tell everyone, but it also means that you should not struggle alone. While engaging in step 2 and seeking professional help, your support system will be a crucial element of your healing process.
Step 4: Get to the truth. Flood it with grace. Give it time.
Dig beneath the surface, “pop the hood” in a sense, and really get to the root of what’s truly going on. Adjust accordingly. This is done beautifully in counseling and with trusted community. Give yourself so much grace. Realize that healing typically does not take place overnight. It takes time. It takes effort.
Friend, mental and emotional healing is absolutely possible. I hope you fully understand that you are 100% worth the time, effort, energy, AND rest that it takes to be healthy in all aspects of your life. Seek help, and know you’re worth it and you’ll never be a burden.