If you are scrolling With social media, you would think that everyone is crushing on her, especially entrepreneurs. They have the perfect life: all rainbows and sunshine and nine-figure ratings. Every day brings a new deal, big win and an elaborate post on LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram to celebrate. But beneath that thin veneer, there is likely someone who is struggling with everyday life, just like you and me.
Want to get real for a second? Let’s be real. Starting a company is really hard. Life is really hard. And all kinds of people fight every single day, even when they seem to be doing very well.
I’m sharing my story because I want you to know that it’s okay to face challenges Psychological health. It does not diminish who you are or what you are trying to achieve. And I want you to know that this is completely normal.
Hi, I’m Dan
Looking back, it’s clear that I struggled with mental health issues most of my life. But a lot of focus came into focus when my mother passed away in March of 2019. We were so close.
When she died, I was deeply, deeply shocked by my foundation and have worked ever since to get back on my feet.
A global pandemic, some chronic back pain, an overwhelming amount of work stress…and I was really struggling. Usually a big risk taker and extrovert, I became introverted, depressed and anxious.
I kept this mostly private, and only shared it with close friends and family. I was concerned that sharing my mental health challenges might harm my company and my professional brand. I wondered if people would treat me differently.
But as I began to open up and share my experiences, I found many people with similar stories—people who felt alone in their struggles. So I’m here to help normalize these issues. It is my hope that sharing my challenges and some of the things I learned along the way may enable others who are struggling in silence to seek help and open up. Or at least, help them feel a little less alone.
A while back, at the recommendation of my sister (who happens to be a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon), I sought help in the form of therapy and psychiatry. These days, I see my therapist once a week and my psychiatrist twice a month. I’m still working through challenges, but I have a strong support network around me and I’m so grateful for that. I still get depressed and anxious at times, but I know I have a safety net. That’s a big deal.
1. Surround yourself with resources and support
There is something uniquely valuable about therapy. It’s one thing to talk to friends and family about your struggles — friends and family are great. But it is a very different experience to work with a professional who has no agenda other than to listen and help you.
Start by taking the first step toward finding a professional who can walk you down this path. Ask for therapist referrals from people you trust. Then take the second step by writing emails and making phone calls. It can be difficult to find someone to connect with, but don’t be discouraged! There is help out there and it makes a world of difference.
2. Start where you are
This may seem obvious but bear with me. At any given moment, you are in your place. Think of it as a road map with a big “You are here” dot. You may not want to be there. You may want to be in a completely different place. You may feel guilt or regret over past decisions that led you to where you are now. But you are where you are at that moment, and you cannot be anywhere else.
Start there and then decide where to go next.
3. Think management more than solution
Entrepreneurs naturally approach problems from a solutions perspective. That’s just what we do. But there are some things that aren’t resolved (at least not right away). This process is crucial to progress. There is no magic bullet for freedom from depression and anxiety. Instead, work each day to manage your way through it.
4. Embrace all of life, even the difficult parts
This is easier said than done, especially since some of the hard parts are really tough. But that’s what makes life, life. The human condition contains many trials and you will experience them all: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Wrap your arms around your entire life. The resistance of the hard parts only increases the pain.
5. Recognize the resistance and lubricate around it
That’s big. It is normal to feel resistance from hard objects. We don’t want our loved ones to die. We don’t want layoffs. We don’t want to have difficult conversations. We don’t want our mental health to suffer. There are a lot of things we don’t want in our lives, but they are all the same.
Step One: Observe and recognize the resistance within you. No judgment, just an observation.
Step two: don’t fight it. Your instinct may be to fight back, but that won’t get very far. Instead, try to soften around him. Let the resistance melt.
Just be nice to yourself. These things are hard and you do your best.
Finally, if you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Feel free to reach out to me on social media (I’m easy to find) and I’ll be happy to be your resource and help you in any way I can. Life is hard, but it’s better together.
If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, here are some free resources available to help 24/7:
• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.
• Crisis text font Text NAMI to 741-741. Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free 24/7 support via text message.