Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I don’t know that anything sums up small business ownership quite so well. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. It usually doesn’t go as planned. Small business ownership can be depressing…literally.
Over the last several years I’ve had many conversations with small-business owners who are struggling with depression. I get it. It’s not something that I typically talk about in public, but I’ve been there, done that, and I’ve got the tear-stained t-shirt.
I know what it’s like to struggle in business. I know how a struggling business can trash a personal life. I know what it’s like to do everything that I know to do and NOTHING changes. It’s frustrating.
Most of my adult life I haven’t been honest with myself about depression. I don’t like feeling weak. I don’t like feeling broken. When I’m struggling with depression, that’s exactly how I feel. So instead of being honest about it, I hide it…and I hide it well.
See, I’ve been blessed with the type of personality that can hide depression in plain sight. I know how to make people laugh. I know how to be the life of the party. I know how to laugh, smile, and tell jokes…all while fighting the darkness on the inside.
But you can only do that for so long. Eventually, fighting the darkness alone will break you. For some, when the darkness breaks them, they take their own life (or attempt to). For others, when the darkness breaks them, they get help. Thankfully, I was in the latter group.
I like to think that I can take a lot. I often call this trait my “Rocky gene.” I’m hardwired to get back up no matter how many times life knocks me down. But because of that, it took a lot for me to break. It took a lot of pain for me to admit that I needed help. I should have asked for help sooner, but I didn’t.
The first place I went for help was God. I genuinely believe that the God of the universe loves me and wants what is best for me. With that said, I have lived most of my life asking God to bail me out instead of asking Him to guide me. Not very smart.
The next place I went for help was people. Admittedly, this was much harder for me (and still is). I knew God would accept me as I am, but people…people can be judgmental and mean. What would people think if they knew how much I struggled? What would people think if they knew I’ve cried every day for the last 2 weeks? What if everyone found out that I’m not as awesome as I pretend that I am?
So why am I telling you this? Well…
First, I wanted to shine some light into a dark place. Depression is much more common with small-business owners than we all care to admit. So I felt like it was time for someone to say something about it.
Second, I wanted to be honest about what’s going on with me so that you can have the courage to be honest about what’s going on with you. You are not alone. There are some really amazing people around you who will lock arms with you and help if you will just let them.
Keep in mind…I’m not saying that you should tell everyone everything. Social media friends are not the people who you should be telling about your depression, neither are the people you just met at the latest networking event. Ask for help from close friends, family, and professionals who work with people struggling with depression.
Lastly, I wanted to share a few things that I have learned about God over the last several years. These things have helped me a lot, and maybe they can help you too.
I have learned to be thankful for every pain in my life that brought me back to God.
I have learned the importance of surrendering to God’s will. God’s plan is better than my plan.
I have learned that I do not have the strength to carry life’s burdens. I only have enough strength to cast them upon Jesus and let Him carry them. The trick is letting Him do it.
I have learned the importance of getting to know God. The better I know Him, the more I trust Him. When I really trust Him, I really calm down. God is my loving Father. He is good. He can be trusted.
I have learned that God WILL ABSOLUTELY give me more than I can handle, but He won’t ever give me more than He can handle.
I have learned that God has blessed me far beyond anything that I deserve and being thankful that is a weapon against depression.
I have learned that God has given me a choice. I choose what I think about. I choose what I listen to. I choose what I see. Good and bad exist in everyone’s life. What I focus on I will magnify. It’s my choice.
Verse Of The Day
I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. – Psalms 40:1-2 NKJV