Stigma & Coping With Depression As An Entrepreneur Or Employee – An Opinion Piece
Depression is a bitch
I’ll call my depression Bertha.
Bertha is the kind of uptight snobbish chick that goes to Starbucks and asks for a double tall, nonfat, 1/2 Splenda, 2.5 pump vanilla latte while she’s on her phone talking and then asks for the manager because you didn’t stir her drink and it doesn’t taste “skinny enough”.
Bertha is complicated.
Everybody thinks Bertha is a bitch.
But in reality, she’s just a lost, misunderstood soul, with too much caffeine in her system. Now, give your depression a really ridiculous name so we can read this article with a little smile on our faces (I hope).
Toxic Over-Glorified Workholic Culture
Here’s my take on this.
Society glorifies & rewards the workaholic that has eliminated work/life balance from their vocabulary. There is no room for depressed Bertha here. Instead, you need to remain positive 24/7, slave away, and never turn down a task – you need to be flesh-covered robot basically.
It’s emotionally confusing to be in a world where people tell you to take it easy with a warm smile yet are judging you for being “lazy & incompetent” when you actually take that hour lunch or work 4 hours instead of 6. There’s usually a whole lot of talk about the perks as an employee and an equal amount of negative judgement if you actually use up your vacation days, leave on time, work from home etc. Therefore, the person pulling their 3rd consecutive all-nighter, 12-hour workday, or entire year without taking a single vacation day is idolized for their work ethic.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or in the 9 to 5 space, I’m sure you can relate.
There is no room for our emotionally complicated “Bertha”, instead you must put on a mask and act like you shit positivity and rays of sunshine & rainbows on a daily basis.
As a result, people feel obligated to perform to the point of over-exhaustion at the expense of their sanity, relationships, and any fun outside the workplace. This culture won’t stop unless the conversation around work/life balance & mental health are intensified and changes are implemented soon after.
“You can’t always see depression or other mental illnesses”
If you get a cold or physically injure yourself, calling in a sick day is simple and understandable. However, you can’t always “see” depression or other mental illnesses. Because of this, calling in for a mental health day is often seen as a tactic to get out of working and go fool around.
The Changes That Need To Happen
There’s a major lack of emotional intelligence amongst leadership positions in the 9 to 5 workforce as well as education around mental health. I believe leaders who have, or try to develop, a higher EQ and invest into the personal & professional development of their employees will always see a higher ROI in the long-term. Currently, most of the workforce and entrepreneurial mindset focuses too much on “getting it done no matter what” and completely ignores the wellbeing of the humans producing these results.
Although artificial intelligence is replacing many jobs and emotions are not a concern for AI, there will still be many roles where actual human beings are involved. If you neglect the basic human needs & desires, you might “get it done” but it won’t last long and nobody will be working to their fullest potential.
Leaders need to start having more honest 1-on-1 and team conversations about what they feel they need with no judgements or repercussions for voicing their opinions & concerns. Figure out what everyone on your team values and needs to feel at the top of their game. Maybe it’s more money, working from home, paternity leave, tuition reimbursement, etc. But the conversation needs to happen and then changes need to be implemented so employees know they are heard & appreciated.
But What Do You Do If You’re Depressed & Need Help Coping?
I’m not a mental health professional, so first and foremost I suggest being open about your feelings with someone you trust or finding a professional that can help you work through your thoughts.
Personally, I have three ways I approach my own depression.
I have a checklist of things I should make sure to do to take care of myself mentally & physically
I decide if there’s any shred of truth in the crap my brain tries to feed me
I analyze my life to see if there’s factors affecting me that I need to face & improve upon whether it’s financial, career, love life, family etc
Whether you’re in a 9 to 5 or an entrepreneur, the pressure of the workaholic culture likely affects you. If you don’t perform consistently every day you begin to feel inadequate. I believe that progress is a long journey of rewiring the flawed beliefs in our thinking, learning to become more confident, and being ok with saying “no” more often.
I believe that sometimes we get so used to a crappy situation that we become comfortable with being uncomfortable in the wrong way.
Discomfort IS a good thing for growth but not in this case.
In my time coping with depression, I’ve developed a checklist of things that work for me to handle my depression. The checklist doesn’t always work and that’s ok but it’s the first thing I turn to when I feel off to try and change the direction of my mood. For me, the checklist consists of steps to make sure my body is well-fed, my living space is in order, talking out loud or journaling and a few other things to help me get in a better state. Your own checklist can be anything but you’ll need to give yourself time & patience to understand yourself and create it.
You can start with being honest with yourself about what are some things you could do that you know could help you. Maybe it starts with having quick go-to meals you can microwave, a phrase that gives you better perspective, or an activity.
I ask myself if there’s any shred of truth in the BS my mind spews at me. Usually there isn’t but it’s not uncommon if there might be some underlying truths you’ve been scared to face.
Lastly, I look at my life in general. I assess if there’s anything bothering me in major pillars of my life whether it’s romantically or financially. You can’t solve things by burying them under superficial layers of positivity. The changes you want come from facing the nasty, scary, and challenging bits you might be tucking away or procrastinating on.
Remember my Bertha? She gets angry & difficult because she needs attention and she’s not getting enough of it.
When you’re depressed it’s so easy to believe you can’t do anything about it, but you can. It’s not easy but it’s doable. You wont see and feel change if you continue to repeat the same motions hoping that one day things will shift all on their own.
There’s many things that need to change and it’s not about playing the blame game. The workforce needs to become more mindful about it’s employees but we also have to take a stand and speak up because change doesn’t happen unless you do something about it.