It starts with apathy and equal parts withdraw; raw isolation in an already isolating pursuit. Days where you close the blinds, slip deep into the bathwater, drink or sleep more than you should because you’re “stressed” and disengage with the people and parts of your life that normally bring you joy. There is a numbness that becomes soothing.
The term “zero f*cks given” is obvious and “the hustle is real” only refers to the amount of Netflix series you’ve burned through on any given day. The thrill of starting your own business, of pursuing your unique ideas and then sharing that passion with the world is juxtaposed with hours behind a computer, pushing for social media traction, positive feedback, and money exchanged for a service or product that becomes a piece of you–scrutinized negotiated and transacted.
Whether you are turning a passion into a business, using your art to pay your rent, or servicing a need in your community, the connection will be felt to your core. This connection can continue to inspire you, to become the drive from which you create or it can ravage you from the inside out, leaving you unrecognizable to your original intent. Depression cares little for boundaries and more for your depth. Depression seeps into the corners of your mind and spirit and makes you question your worth, your greatness, your rationale, and your perspective. Most startlingly, depression is affecting more and more creatives and entrepreneurs: Those already self-motivated, self-aware, and self-made.
Our inner emotions influence our outside world and the environment we construct with. Those who consider themselves “creatives” know this intimately, as they can take those unedited emotions a step further and put paint to canvas, words to page, ingredients to recipe, and bring ideas to life. Those creatives who turn their passion into profit become entrepreneurs who too, are carving a life with innate drives marked by what they value. Values vary from entrepreneur to entrepreneur but undoubtedly act as strong motivators for why the reward is greater than the risk; why the leap requires faith. Some of us value money, time, freedom, creation, empowerment, justice, service, and pure expression on your terms.
When a passion is so deeply judged along varying degrees of “success” by oneself and others, it is easy to link what you do with who you are. That connection without separation is lethal to your self-worth and the beauty of your work. Who you are is what allows you to create the way you do and push for your business, your brand, and your enterprise.
The biggest lie you can tell yourself is that you are alone in this. That you should keep quiet in your suffering. Unfortunately that lie thrives in areas where mental health is still “taboo,” and many are left silenced. So how do you combat depression? How do you bring the light to this overwhelming darkness?
You combat depression by using your voice to forge connection. You build strength in numbers, in relatedness and shared experience. You must be willing to be vulnerable; to crack yourself wide open and reveal the deep truths about your moods. You find a “safe space” in a friend, a partner, or even a group that will allow you to share at your own speed and free of judgment. Sharing to be heard and understood, creates three key concepts that will positively shape your depression and support your safety: Universality, Community, & Accountability.
– The idea that another person shares in something you thought individual, rare, and the exception
– Feelings of universality is why group therapy exists, it’s why when you speak a feeling aloud and someone mutters “me too” you feel understood beyond the superficial
– A mirror is held to your suffering by way of stories from others
– You are reminded of what being authentic and courageous feels like because to share this deeply is an act of bravery
– When you share, you build trust in others and mutual trust builds connection that will become even more vital as each day living with depression unfolds
– As you find your voice, so do those around you. A beautiful cycle of support begins to feed and strengthen
– Help and insight are made available and gain credibility because it’s coming from someone who has or is walking your path
– You are no longer alone
– Once you share your depression in the safety of another, a partnership of support is formed and accountability allows for its maintenance
– Accountability provides the promise of “follow-up,” of someone looking out for you and you for them on a regular basis
– Care and concern is built willingly and consciously
If you find yourself confusing your work with your worth, losing sight of the joy that your business brings to you, or deeply suffering from depressive moods, take the steps to talk about it. No one should suffer, especially not in silence. If this sounds like someone you know, then be the safe haven, be the loving support, and provide the accountability to move your friend to stability on his or her terms. Each person is carrying both their creativity and the deep emotions that come with it. Understanding and respect begins with a willingness to dialogue and demystify our depression.
For additional advocacy, support and statistics on those affected by depression and anxiety, you can utilize the following national resources:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA):
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA):
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
National Institute of Health/Mental Health (NIMH):