49% of Entrepreneurs Suffer - Here's What Worked for Me
A study from by Dr. Michael Freeman at the University of California San Francisco found that 49% of those who start a company say they have struggled with some form of mental illness in the past. 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health conditions.
No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness - Aristotle
Starting a company, and sticking with it, is outside the realm of what most people do. The high creativity that propels an entrepreneur can also cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, or manic disorders. This is true also for those who rise to high levels within existing companies.
My anxiety started in college and followed me through my corporate career. It started as a feeling of inadequacy that made me vulnerable to abusive and codependent behavior. Here are a few things it caused in my worst days:
Many people experience feeling paralyzed or stuck. Some have panic attacks. Some people have incessant thoughts of self doubt - the phrase "I don't know" or "f&*% this" running through their head at every situation.
I turned a corner on my anxiety with yoga and meditation. One month I made it my 30 day goal to do yoga every day, even if it was only for 10 minutes, followed by a short meditation. At the end of thirty days I was feeling so good. One month turned to three, then to six. I let go of things I had been holding on to for years. Things that used to bother me just didn't any more. I stopped being angry. I began to enjoy my days and feel excited about the future. I found myself smiling again for no reason. My emotional set point rose and every day I felt lighter.
Now I'm talking more openly about my journey through anxiety, and it's a conversation people want to engage in. So, I want to start by listing the things that work for me. Please add your own in the comments. It's an important topic, and one with no clearly defined right or wrong answer.
What has helped me
Quitting the corporate world was not the answer to my anxiety, but it was the beginning of a journey. People don't become high performing professionals without constant personal growth. We continue to learn every day. It's part of the entrepreneur's journey. If I had to give advice I would say do something that falls into each of these four categories regularly. Don't wait until you find yourself isolated or on the floor of your shower. Enjoy your life now.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please comment and share with someone you think might benefit.
For more on the statistics quoted in this article read the post Genius in Madness from StartupGrind.com.
I'm Kelly Coulter. I build websites and online marketing for smart companies. Schedule a call with me >