Fundraising & World Mental Health Day

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day (WMHD), an initiative that seeks to raise public awareness of mental health, reduce the stigma and encourage people to seek help when they need it.  I had planned on writing about this yesterday, on … Continue reading

Get Creative & Get Mental Health Aware

October is Mental Health Month. This week is National Mental Health Week. This is an important week for many reasons – not only does it mark one year since I started this blog (thanks to those that are still reading!) … Continue reading

Me Time – how taking a break can be the best thing for business

I’ve had a really loooong and difficult week with the kids. They seem to have been inhabited by teenagers despite being aged just 3 years (girl) and 15 months (boy). Add to this the busy work of preparing for an … Continue reading

Easter Traditions – A Spin on Greek Easter for a New Generation

One of the blessings of having a young family is developing your own traditions. This Easter, with our eldest child almost 3 years old, we embarked on finding a family tradition to celebrate as it is the first time she … Continue reading

Self Doubt, Depression and the Unexpected Entrepreneur

Self doubt.

It’s such a powerful thing, isn’t it?

I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who hasn’t experienced a little self doubt before but I know it is something I find myself fighting all the time. It’s not so much because I’m not a confident person. Or because I don’t have any real talent or aptitude for what I do. It’s more a scar of my battle with depression.

{As those of you who have been following my blog will know, I have battled on and off with depression since 2007. I have been brutally honest about this as I am passionate about ending the stigma on mental health that makes some feel that they cannot be truthful about how they are really feeling. If you want to know more about my journey with depression you can read about it here.}

So how does this relate to business?

Lately, I have been feeling a bit of self doubt. Sales have been a bit slow (as is usual at this time of year) and I seem to be waiting interminably for my next market in March. After all the busyness of the Christmas/New year period it’s all feeling a little slow. So those niggly thoughts start coming in…

“I’m not selling anything. Maybe it’s because people no longer like what I do”

“If this keeps going I won’t have any income left to continue with my business”

“I know lots of small businesses fail early on…will mine be part of that statistic?”

“Is it worth spending the money and taking the time to apply for Trademark?”

“Other businesses look like they’re selling well…why aren’t I?”

“I feel so guilty taking time to work on my business when I should be cleaning the house/folding washing/spending better quality time with the kids/etc.”

And so it continues.

Now, despite all the cognitive behaviour therapy I have done, negative self-talk and thoughts still blow through my mind like a whirlwind sometimes, making a big mess of calm and confidence and leaving a big pile of rubbish to sort through. I KNOW in my head what is happening and I KNOW it is not good, but I sometimes feel like I’m standing there helpless as I watch my thoughts get all muddied.

So, in my state of ‘blergh’ I signed up to do an online milestones workshop with Get It Done Mum and Build A Little Biz (two excellent resources if you are a small biz owner!). The big selling point was that they promised to “overcome the overwhelm”…just what I needed!

I scrounged together the time to access the meeting online in between juggling my two young children and threw myself into the exercises wholeheartedly.

What a breath of fresh air through my mind!

Through doing this workshop I found the clarity to discover what I really want (and need) from my business as well as from my personal life and set milestones and strategies to achieve this newfound vision.

Then, last night as I was talking with my husband about the workshop and how I’m feeling about business and all the rest, and I realised that the self doubt I had been feeling was because I didn’t set out to start a business, it just grew organically from a hobby. It’s this fact that has meant that I still have a mental barrier to considering myself as a true and proper “entrepreneur” (or “mumpreneur” if you prefer that term). I don’t yet recognise it subconsciously as a real job. It is the first time I haven’t had a clear job title or written list of responsibilities pertaining to my job, and it’s affecting how I see myself and how I value what I do. When I fill out a form I stumble upon what to write in the occupation part. It used to be so clear-cut and easy – “preschool teacher” fitted nicely and people knew what it meant. Now I find I fall back on “stay at home mum” because it’s too hard to come up with a title for what I do.

Maybe it’s also because there doesn’t seem to be as much social recognition of small home-based business. Yes, there’s the whole “mumpreneur” movement thing but some part of me thinks that it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. This perception could be because I keep having conversations like this with new people I meet:

Them: So what do you do?

Me: Oh, I’m at home with my kids….oh and I have a small business.

Them: Oh really? What do you do?

Me: I make jewellery.

Them: Oh.

Silence. End of conversation.

Is this just me? Is there a better way I can describe myself? Am I “good enough” to say that I am a “jewellery designer”? Will this make people more interested or value what I now do?

And see, there’s that self doubt again. Sneaky, isn’t it?

So I suppose the moral of this story is that I need to take myself seriously. I need to invest (time and…wait for it…money) in myself and in my business. I need to focus on my passion. I need to value what I do.

When I do this, self doubt disappears. The thought patterns of my depression-scarred mind can be changed. I can be proud of what I do.

So I have this manifesto from Build A Little Biz stuck up right in front of me at my desk and I am going to read it every day (or several times a day if I need to!) and I am going to keep marching on…

Thanks to Build a Little Biz

Thanks to Build a Little Biz

 

Mental Health Week & My Passion to Remove the Stigma

Anyone who has been around me or my business Facebook page for any fair length of time will tell you that I have another great passion besides creating – mental health.

To understand why you need to understand my own personal story (I’m about to be raw and honest so prepare yourself!).

For as long as I can remember I have been a glass-half-empty kind of person, a state of mind that was not helped by difficulties with friendships at school, a little bullying and the immense pressure I put on myself to achieve at school. Still, I sailed along with just a bit of teenage ‘moodiness’, graduated Year 12 and embarked on a wonderful romance with the man I would marry just 3 years later in 2006.

In May 2007 my life changed. It sounds so cliched but it’s true. I began to lose motivation to do simple everyday tasks. Tidying the dining table seemed like a monumental job that required more effort and energy than I had. I trundled on, putting on a ‘face’ when out in public and always answering “I’m fine, thanks” when asked how I was. One morning over breakfast the thought of having to get up and brush my teeth was too much and I broke down. Discussions with my amazing and caring boss prompted me to seek help as she thought I might have depression. I first went to the beyondblue website and took the little questionnaire to assess the likelihood of having depression (to do it yourself go here). It gave words to what I was feeling and with a resounding positive result I made an appointment with my doctor.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression just before my 22nd birthday.

I tried all the natural therapies out there for depression, along with starting counselling with a psychologist. With still no improvement I decided to try antidepressants. With these, the fog started to lift and I began to make progress in my therapy sessions.

Apart from a 2 month stint that resulted in horrible thoughts circling in my head I have remained on antidepressants and I don’t see myself ever going without them. I don’t see this as ‘giving in’ or as a ‘crutch’ or as an ‘addiction’ – they are a medication to correct a chemical imbalance in my brain. Would you pass these same labels on to someone who takes insulin for diabetes? No. For many, antidepressants are necessary to help the body work the way it is supposed to.

Today, I am well. I still have down days but they are far outnumbered by my good days. I have had two children and have been thankful every day that I have not relapsed into post-natal depression (the chances of which are greater due to my history). I am also aware of how my thought patterns affect how I feel and (most times) can recognise when I am slipping back into that dark hole.

Recently I also held a charity auction on my Cordelle Facebook page to raise funds for beyondblue as they were a source of invaluable information during my depression. I am so proud to say that we raised over $1000 for beyondblue!

So, this brings me to Mental Health Week, an initiative to encourage everyone to talk about depression and anxiety. Today is also World Mental Health Day – and this is why I have chosen today to share this with you all. I believe talking about mental health, and especially sharing your own experiences as I have done here, is SO important in helping to remove the stigma associated with having a mental illness. Talk with your friends, family and colleagues about it. Keep those channels of communication open.

For more information on Mental Health Week and depression and anxiety, please go beyondblue. For urgent assistance, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.