guest post by Lindsey Hutchinson
I am an entrepreneur. I am a snowboarder. I am a web designer. I am smart, strong, driven, honest, loyal, and gorgeous. I have anxiety. And I have depression.
It's not an everyday thing to hear of someone coming out and sharing their demons with the world, and to be totally clear here, I'm terrified because I've never shared anything this personal so publicly. I've never been one to air my private life in public forums, nor would I have ever dreamed of writing a blog post for a magazine about this.
I want to break the ice with fellow solopreneurs about topics such as anxiety and depression and how we have to learn to deal with them all on our own. Solopreneurship is a lonely venture where some days our only interactions are with our beloved, furry sidekicks. And that’s OK! We are bombarded by tailored images and perfectly staged, "I woke up like this!" posts from boss ladies who are kicking ass and taking names in their fields. Quite frankly, I'm a little fed up. It's a marketing tactic, especially in the tech industries, to up-play the positives and severely down-play the negatives.
So, ladies, let's get real here, no one actually EVER "wakes up like that."
We find ourselves comparing our flaws to their perfection, and it seems like we will never measure up.
Queue the depression. When I say depression I don't mean temporarily feeling sad or down about something. Depression is deeper than that. It's the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning or face the day because you feel that any move you make will end up disappointing the ones you love. It's the need to be alone and in the dark just so you have some head space to fight your demons, or at least try for a while before falling back into a restless sleep. It's days like this that I take my time doing normal daily tasks, just so I don't get overwhelmed again and go straight back to bed.
"You're too weak to be an entrepreneur and handle the hustle."
I am stronger than you will ever know.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, we see someone killing it and immediately go into panic mode because we still have to hire that copywriter, find the perfect web designer, and build the perfect e-course, not to mention quadruple our email lists in the next 30 seconds, or we'll go bankrupt. Don't forget to feed the dog, let him out, clean the carpets, dust the living room, do the laundry and the dishes, not to mention if you have kids in the picture... Forget about it.
Anxiety is beyond overwhelming, but I also know that it is possible to overcome it. I've been there and I still go there from time to time.
THE MAIN WAY TO CURB PANICKED THOUGHTS IS TO SIMPLY BE PRESENT.
Yes, I realize that sounds so irrational when you're in the heat of the moment with your thoughts jumbled and your heart racing. Honestly now, try turning on some guided meditation and actually listen to it. Do what they say and you'll start to notice your breathing will even out, your heart beat will slow, and your thoughts become more even keeled. Not to mention, you gain some headspace for more productive thoughts - we could all use some of that, whether you have severe anxiety or not.
I'm not perfect nor have I ever claimed to be. I struggle with real life issues like a lot of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs do, but persevering, and believing in yourself will take you to great heights. If you need to talk, I would be happy to lend a listening ear.
If you're fighting the same fight, you're stronger than anyone could ever know. Keep your chin up, buttercup. I know that even getting out of bed this morning took tremendous effort and I wholeheartedly commend you for that. You are strong and you are killing it in this game we call life, even if it might not feel like it right this moment.
As a suicide survivor myself, I can confirm that it gets better. I promise.
Remember to just breathe - we're only human.
As a solopreneur in the online world, you're expected to be at the top of your game, at all times, like a #girlboss should be. Tailored photoshoots and, "I woke up like this!" perfection is filtered into our feeds like ________.
"You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce."
But does Beyonce deal with anxiety and depression like many women entrepreneurs do today? Who knows. If she does, she hides it quite well, in which case, more power to her!
What many don't understand about anxiety and depression is that no matter what field of work you're in, it's crippling. When the depression demons come out to play, not only do you want to be in bed all day, but you sob for hours because you feel like you'll never measure up to those in your industry.
Or how about when the anxiety bares its ugly teeth? You're in a panic because you have to build this e-course, do this giveaway, that promotion, triple your email subscriber list, hire a business coach, copywriter, photographer, web designer, branding specialist, lawyer, and accountant in the next 30 seconds or you're going to have to declare bankruptcy, and end up living on the streets with fido and a tarp as a blanket.
When they strike in unison? Forget about it.
Sure, there's all kinds of medicine to numb the pain and lessen the panic, but when you can't perform your job because of the fog they put you in, are they really worth it?
I, myself, have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
It's an uphill battle everyday, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Albeit dim at times, it's there.
For those of you that struggle with these monsters, I am with you and I know your struggle. Fighting back is an inside job, and you have to want it for yourself. When you get to the point of being fed up with feeling defeated all the time or anxious about nothing that actually required anxiety, you will find your way to an easier path.
*If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255). People have called for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.*
Lindsey Hutchinson is the founder of Hut Marketing & Design LLC., a web design agency based in Buffalo, NY. With a degree in marketing from the University at Buffalo, she fell into her love for web design by accident. She loves scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration for her next big web design project, and her someday wedding. She lives in a small farm town, with her boyfriend and her pup, and when she’s not getting lost in design and coding, you can find her outside hiking, camping, kayaking, and motivating others to do the same.