I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since I was a child. I came into the awareness of my struggle in my adolescence, and as an adult I have taken intentional steps to heal my trauma and live a purposeful life. However, in the last 9 months I have found myself in a state of depression that has stemmed from some of the healing work. I have the awareness and confidence that all is well with my soul. But as I acknowledge certain things–old pain comes to the surface. As I disrupt patterns and programs in my mind, there are new challenges and side effects that I must also overcome.
Some of the actionable steps that I’ve taken in the last 5 years include therapy, affirmations, and self care. While those were important first steps, I was still finding myself in relationships with unavailable people, in friendships that were one sided, and in the habit of performing for love and needing validation from others.
In the past 9 months, I came into true awareness of myself. One of the truths I’ve learned is that my mind, my ego and my soul, all have their own objectives at times. However, I am able to notice patterns and programs that are ruling my life. External programs include social norms for productivity and validation that led to me being overworked and depressed by a lack of validation from others. Internal programs include seeking love from emotionally unavailable people because my subconscious mind believed that I didn’t deserve love, and it knew that this would be a dead end. My body had been routinized to seek the unavailable and to seek rejection because that was what was familiar. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but with this new awareness, I am rewiring my subconscious mind to believe that I am love and I deserve love.
I have taken more steps towards freedom that include leaving spaces, situations and people that show me early on they either don’t want me—except as a commodity, or that don’t value me. I’ve put up boundaries around my time and how I need to be communicated with and how I need to be treated. I have been incredibly intentional about protecting my energy and taking my rest. I have let go of the need for validation and I practice self awareness as much as possible. However, all this deep and very much necessary work comes at a cost. People show their true colors, people leave, doors close, and discomfort is very real as my mind and body are not used to moving this way. Moreover, more self awareness for me has also meant a hyper awareness of others—their energy, shifts in energy, toxic behaviors, and ego! My interest in people, places, things, and experiences has been drastically altered. While I also have more appreciation for people and for life in general, and I can recognize my oneness with everyone and everything—I am challenged as I rewire my brain, calm my nervous system and free my body of my mind!
Side Effects of Intentional Healing
When I noticed I was consistently putting things off, I called myself lazy, and I beat myself up. But my mean inner critic didn’t help me to understand why I was procrastinating, and didn’t help me to stop doing so. One day, I decided to list all the things I had already done that day. It was a long list, so even though it seemed like I was procrastinating, I was actually tired and wanted a break and so my body (being my mind as it tends to do at times AKA body-mind) made me take that much needed break. Other days, when I wasn’t as busy, yet I wasn’t being productive towards my business goals, I would ask myself why. Why am I procrastinating? After meditating on the question for a while, I realized that procrastination was one of the ways I protect myself from failure or rejection. Sounds counterproductive, I know, but for my subconscious mind and body-mind it made sense to avoid anything that could potentially cause me more emotional pain. I used to be a risk-taker, a go-getter, but I had come to a point where all I wanted to do was protect myself from pain at all cost. If I put things off, maybe I could avoid it altogether. I could avoid the anxiety and fear that comes with facing rejection. I could avoid the potential rejection and failure. In my rational mind, I know that rejection and failure are inevitable and can build character and resilience–but when you grow up and go through life feeling rejected and like you are a failure, and you feel like you’ve had more than your fair share, you go into survival mode to avoid it.
Directly tied to avoidance and living in a constant state or survival, is isolation. Networking and collaboration are essential parts of entrepreneurship that cause me a lot of anxiety. How do I cope? Cycles of isolation. The cycle starts with me getting to a point where I have built up some level of confidence–maybe after some recent success, or just through the healing work that I do–and I am ready to put myself out there. Connecting with like-minded individuals is something I love to do, and I crave being part of a community. But when I put myself out there and I get no response or I get an unfavorable response, I tend to take it personally. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to, but again, I feel like I have been ignored and neglected enough for one lifetime. When it feels like no matter my approach, I’m ignored, neglected, or rejected–I retreat.
I think I’ve painted a picture by now that can easily explain how procrastination and isolation as a budding entrepreneur can only lead to inconsistency in my output and my business. And these are just some of the side effects. It takes mental work and effort to process how I’m feeling, understand why I feel the way I do, and then force myself not to take things personally. It takes work and effort to let it go, and that work takes time. Time that takes me away from my to-do list and my business goals. On the outside looking in, you'll see gaps in my social media posts and presence, products taking weeks or months to be restocked, and periodic communication at best.
How I thrive
I used to feel bad about my slow progress. At times it looked to me like there was no progress at all--personally or professionally. It felt like I would take two steps forwards just go four leaps backward. It felt like I was always being triggered. Like I was always depressed, and like I’d never be successful. So, how do I thrive as a depressed entrepreneur? I give myself permission to fail forward. I give myself permission to take all the time, and all the breaks that I need. I affirm and I remind myself that I am successful. I haven’t packed it in. I’m still here. I celebrate my success and I clap for myself. I’m becoming more self aware. I'm becoming more myself. And when I get tired and sad, as I will while I heal from trauma, I give myself grace. I practice radical self-love. I give myself to God, and I put all my trust and hope in God.
"I give myself permission to fail forward. I give myself permission to take all the time, and all the breaks that I need. I affirm and I remind myself that I am successful. I haven’t packed it in. I’m still here. I’m becoming more self aware. I'm becoming more myself. And when I get tired and sad, as I will while I heal from trauma, I give myself grace. I practice radical self-love. I give myself to God, and I put all my trust and hope in God."
Thank you for reading this post. If anything resonated with you, please comment below. How do you continue to thrive, while healing from trauma or during tough times?