Dear Depression, I Can't Meet Today

Apr 3, 2012, Written by Sue Miley

tulipsIf you are a small business owner you may not even read this post.  Who has time to be depressed anyway?  Stressed yes.  I could use some tips on how to manage stress, but depression isn’t allowed.

At least that is the lie we tell ourselves.

In reality, sometimes depression does look a little different when it stems from our business life.

After all, we don’t really have the luxury of staying in bed all day.

Depression Happens

But depression does happen in our business life, and can just as easily flow to our personal lives, if we don’t watch out for it and get ahead of it.

Depression can weave it’s way in to our psyche in many different ways.  It could be:

  • losing the second employee in 3 weeks during your peak season.
  • working 60 hours a week and never breaking even.
  • your business culture doesn’t match you at all and you feel like a stranger in your own office.

And sometimes it is the let down after a big project, or losing that big sale, or finishing something really incredible and now you are back to the hum drum of ever day operations.

I am going through a mini-depression now.

I have been working on getting a new space for my office.  Not just a space.  Something unique and unusual for my purposes.  A place that would feel like a haven for both myself, our team and our clients.

We’ve been negotiating for months.  I first looked at it in December.  Now I finally cough up the additional funds and get a signed purchase agreement only to find that the seller’s agent was wrong about the zoning.  Now you’re telling me we can’t use it for office space!

Don’t Forget To Trust God In It All

Part of me is thinking, maybe God is just protecting me from a bad real estate deal.  Actually, most of me absolutely believes that if it doesn’t happen, it is part of God’s plan.  I get that, and I embrace it, and I am so thankful He is watching over me when my “wants” may take over my brain.

But, I am still bummed.  I had all of these plans.  I did projections.  We were expanding and going to offer great things for the community………

Now, it is doubtful.

And I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  It is not exactly the architectural capital of the world.  There isn’t anything else like this anywhere nearby.

However, we were really busy at work and that is why we needed more space.  This work is still flowing…praise God!

I don’t have time to be depressed.

How Do You Know It is Depression?

The only way you can counteract depression before it takes hold is if you recognize it.  Here are some signs:

  • You find it more difficult to stay focused and concentrate on the work at hand.
  • Your energy feels depleted half-way through the day.
  • You do sleep more on the weekends and don’t feel like going anywhere after work.
  • You think about leaving early alot (but don’t necessarily do it!)
  • You may even get a little scared that you are losing your passion for your business.

Underneath the busy-ness and stress of our day to day work, depression is the same as it looks in any other setting.  It is just covered up a bit.

Remember When Things Were Different

Think about these signs and try to remember when things were different.  When you jumped out of bed to get to work.  The days when all of the hectic-ness was just your version of multi-tasking and you felt quite accomplished by it.  You know, the days when the craziness seemed fun!

If you can remember a different time, chances are you are experiencing some depression now.

What Can We Do About Depression When We Have Work To Do?

Being a counselor is lucky for me because I am trained to recognize these things quickly.  And I am too thankful to God for the blessings He has been providing in my business to let a little depression keep me down.

So we fight!

The business owner’s war chest against depression:

  1. Identify the root cause of the problem.  Depression can just be a symptom.  For example, my problem is that I am losing a property I love for my business.   If I know that is the problem, I won’t go trying to fix my accounting system or begin marketing to a new niche.  You want to direct your “battle” against the real enemy.
  2. Analyze and determine alternatives to the root problem.  If your business is suffering in sales or profits, you may consider getting a business coach….hiring a sales man….getting a new marketing campaign.  If turnover is killing you, it may help to get practice in interviewing or hire an outside recruiter.  This doesn’t necessarily solve the current situation, but it will keep it from recurring.  See Michael Hyatt’s Post today called The Problem Behind the Problem.
  3. Do something to pamper yourself and bring joy to your life.  My action step was a little lame, but I bought a big bunch of fresh cut tulips and brightened my office yesterday.  It actually made a difference.  You may need to take a couple of days off to rest and do something you enjoy.  You may not feel like it, but take action and you will find it does improve things.
  4. Do the regular things that help us avoid depression.  Things like exercise, get sunlight, eat healthy and be around friends.  I brought fresh fruit and carrots to the office with my flowers.  Typically when we are depressed we eat junk as comfort, double up on the caffeine to get energy, and can’t sleep because we are anxious.
  5. Write about it.  You know I will put journaling (links to post on journaling techniques) in to any post I can justify and journaling is perfect for depression.  You just sometimes need to get the yucky feelings out of you.  Write to God and you will have double benefit as you relieve the internal pressure and give it to God at the same time.
  6. Focus on others.  Whenever I am in a funk and sick of myself, I feel a lot better when I am both productive and helping someone else.  In business there are tons of opportunities to help.  We can go over board with creating awesome customer experiences.  We can love on our team and help them in their work, professional development or just appreciate them.  Getting over myself usually helps a lot!

Moving On From Our Depressed State

Back to reality.  We do have a business to run.  We don’t have time to be depressed.  We need to fix the problem.  We are responsible.  It won’t fix itself.

This is all true.

However, stuffing the melancholy, lethargy, and resentment will fester and grow.  Working through it and battling it will heal you and conquer it.

Depression is real.  Take it seriously and take action to stop it in it’s tracks so you can move on with peace and strength and be truly thankful for all of God’s blessings.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Achama says

    Great thoughts here. I thinking working alone in business can definitely lead to depression if the right steps are not taken but I know that some people love to work alone too.

    • S_Miley says

      Yes, working alone can lead to isolation if you aren’t careful. However, finding groups to network and brainstorm on your timeline can be helpful. And, you are right, some people just prefer it!

  2. Michael Harrell says

    Depression is a form of introspective self focus. That is seeing our problems in relationship to our resourses with all the focus on ourselves. The bible says. I will give you a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. When we participate in Praise we take the focus of of ourselves and place it on our Creator. The bible also says that GOD inhabits the prasies of HIS people. When HE inhabits our praise depression goes away.
    Thanks for your article.
    michaEL

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Michael, I love the way you express this…..I totally agree that if we praise God it takes the focus off of us and places it where it belongs! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Rachel M. says

    I found myself depressed at work last year from monotony of doing the same work for 11 years and it took several things to break me out of the state I was in. First I prayed about what I really wanted in a job, then husband and I made a long term plan to move back to my hometown where we could be surrounded by friends and family for more support since we currently live in Florida with no family nearby. Second, I’m an artist and I’d fallen into a rut, so I began working on websites for Christian friends in the evening and it helped bring me back from the rut I’d fallen into. Collaboration with Christian women is such a beautiful thing, it’s part of what I was missing in an all male environment at my current job.

    Thanks for sharing on LinkedIn, I think I will enjoy your blog.

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Rachel, I am with you …. working with others who share our faith is so rewarding! i know you will be able to reach your goal of moving home. I will be praying for you. Thanks for sharing and visiting the site. Sue

  4. Donna Marie Johnson says

    I so enjoyed reading, Sue. I totally agree. I also shared about this topic on my blog, too. Thank you for sharing.

    This is such an important conversation to have because a lot of people are suffering in silence as solo-preneurs, and they need to run across this article and be encouraged with tips on how to move forward.
    ~Donna

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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