We’ve all been there. That overwhelming wave or lingering cloud of anxiety / depression that hovers over you. For some, its fleeting, and for others its a lifelong battle. I’m here today to speak directly you lady.
To the one who’s struggling: Please know that you are not alone. Please know that you are capable of anything. Please know that you are more than enough. Please know that you don’t have to give up on your dreams of running your own business because you struggle with anxiety and/or depression.
So, just like with dealing with anxiety or depression, I didn’t want to do this alone.
I recently had the privilege to talk with Sienny, a fellow graphic designer. We chatted about our struggles with anxiety/depression while running a busy businesses and how we manage it all. I want to sincerely thank Sienny for being my first Guest Speaker on the blog. She was so open to sharing her story with you in hopes that it may reach someone in need.
Meet: Sienny Thio
Business name: The Mood Lab Creative Branding
My Question: What inspired you to start your business?
Sienny: I’ve always been an adventurous person and a dedicated one at whatever I do. Heck, I used to be a chef for a while, then got involved with the communication fields in the non-profit sector, then started working with start-ups before deciding on extending my skills to the creative visual communications world. I’ve always been passionate about connecting with people, and throughout my career as multi-skilled person I found starting my own business and managing my own time very liberating.
I think the tipping point was when I got so overworked as a chef. It was and still is an extremely demanding career in which someone could easily spend 12-15 hours a day working – that’s more than half of your waking life. I eventually got a chronic injury due to overworking. Feeling inadequate with my now-impaired body, I quit the job where I thought I was going to be for the rest of my life. I then learned the hard lesson of losing my passion. An injury wasn’t a part of the plan – the plan was to go and become a star international chef working in the greatest restaurants in the world – but life has a funny thing to remind us to follow our hearts. I went through a depression right after I quit my job and lost a long term relationship almost simultaneously.
Starting my own business is not something that happened overnight. It took me (quite literally) blood, sweat and tears and more than a couple of wrong turns before I got to where I am today. I am not saying I am super successful, but this is definitely a start of something big in my life. I think it’s the realization that I could fully function on my own (with injuries and all) without being on someone else’s terms is what inspired me to start my own business. It’s my version of self and mental liberation.
My Question: How long have you struggled with depression/anxiety and how does it sometimes impact how you run your business?
Sienny: It must have been almost 3 years now that I first fell into depression. Now I am in my happy place, but I think like any others that have struggled with depression before, we are more prone to fall into the same hole again. It seems like there’s always that part of me that wants to protect myself from being hurt or being a failure again. It is no longer an intense struggle, but it’s like I still have that bitter taste in my tongue. I think what impacts me the most is how I have to learn very, very hard to trust people again. When I fell into depression I thought no one could understand my struggles and I pushed everyone away, including my family. This is extremely harmful and can have extended side effects in our lives. For me, this is what hinders every part of my life progression, including my business. After all, when we try to put ourselves out there as a business owner, we need to open up to people and to learn to build trust. It’s a difficult process even for those who have never experienced depression, so it’s twice as hard for depression survivors. It also hits your self-confidence the hardest.
My Question: What do you do on days you’re not feeling motivated to push through?
Sienny: I think the key is to tell yourself that you are enough. This may sound simple, but believe me it’s a difficult thing to do, especially for someone who struggles with anxiety. I had to (and still do) keep on telling myself that I am capable and it’s okay to have one or two unproductive days. It’s okay to have bad days, if at all it is very normal. You are trying your best, so be kinder to yourself. Another thing that I find extremely helpful is to surround yourself with your own tribe. The people that matter, and truly get you. They, too, have felt unmotivated before, so when we share our feelings, they truly understand us.
My Question: What are your go-to comforts that help boost your mood and creativity? (Insta pages/music/favorite tea or coffee/podcast…anything inspiring)
Sienny: Definitely Pinterest! This is key for me, I use it daily for inspiration and one can really indulge in the endless creative possibilities it offers. Another thing would be stories from people. I love listening to stories. I believe people enrich our lives, whether it’s through lessons, inspirations, support and/or love. I listen to The Moth podcast almost every night before I go to bed. It brings me tears, joy, laughter and inspiration all at the same time.
My Question: What would you say to a fellow ladypreneur that struggles with anxiety/depression?
Sienny: Please do not isolate yourselves, do not hide it in the dark. This is unfortunately a very common practice for people struggling with depression and anxiety, including me at one point. It is difficult to get up when your mind playing tricks on you, telling you that you are not capable. But I want you to know that you definitely are capable, and there are those who actually care. You may not realize it, but the people closest to you are there for you, all you need to do is reach out. Even a simple admittance of ‘I don’t feel okay’ can help. If you have the resources and are comfortable with it, seek professional help. But, if you’re like me back then, where I simply did not trust anyone, take baby steps. Get up and hang out with your friends. Surround yourself with positive people that you know won’t judge you. While depression and anxiety don’t just go away, you definitely get better at dealing with it. It’s like trying to quit smoking, the more you do it the better you will be at quitting.
Thank you to Sienny for so openly sharing her story. Join me again next Monday for Part 2: My tips and tricks to manage anxiety as a business owner. Thanks so much for taking some time out of your busy day to join in our conversation.
Have you ever experienced anxiety and/or depression? Did this post help you feel like you aren’t alone? Share your story below and inspire others.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to call: 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support from certified professionals for people in distress. You are not alone and you are more than enough.