Depression, stress and anxiety – what’s more important, the picture or the frame?
Business is intensely personal. It is about a dream turned into a reality, a passion given direction, a vision given wheels. And here in lies the rub – “never make your hobby your profession,” I was once told. Yet for those of us who are self-employed, it is because our heart is driving us – we see our business as a vehicle by which we can live out of who we are.
Some time back I was in formal employment, and although it paid the bills, it was mind-numbing to the point where my depression began to dominate me. During this time however, I began what has become my business, and for a while these ran in tandem. “My job was getting in the way of my work,” is how I explained it. Now that I am living rather than just doing, my depression has subsided but the stresses of business has increased. But even just acknowledging that shift brings with it a clearer perspective, one that balances, minimises and therefore helps sort out the pressures and priorities of being in business.
So where does anxiety fit in? Anxiety is about validity – is our understanding of ourself accurate, or are we deluding ourself? While we don’t want to live a life that is dictated by expediency, neither do we want to live one that is dictated by foolishness. Attributed to Socrates, “know thyself” is fundamental to our quality of life – it is the point at which our mind and our heart are in balance. One definition of depression I use, is that of a disconnect between the heart and the mind, with the mind often having to try and understand things the heart was never meant to see. So when we demonstrate who we are to a prospective client or investor, who in turn acknowledges our understanding of ourselves by giving us their work, their assessment vindicates us and endorses our self-assessment. We have been validated and therefore our anxiety has been removed.
So ask yourself the question: “who am I at 2 o’clock in the morning?” Are you an opera singer or a soldier? Do you race rally cars or yearn to write a novel? Are you inspired by Leonardo da Vinci or Mick Jagger? Knowing who you are – regardless of whether or not you are in a position to live the dream or put wheels on the vision – is the biggest step to discovering the authentic you. So differentiating between depression, stress and anxiety is recognising the real you, recognising that the stresses of business are professional pressures that need not impact on your personal awareness, and recognising that your view of yourself and the views of those with whom you interact, align. Your mind is in balance with both your heart and your relationships. How you express you life then, is your canvas, not your frame.