That’s about the most obvious, trite, *duh* thing you can write about trying to be a change-maker.
And yet sometimes that’s about all that can be said.
I think most people who touch entrepreneurship anymore know that people who start or make something are more prone to depression and anxiety than the general public. We’ve known that since Brad Feld came clean on his battles, since Wired and Fast Company started picking up those kinds of stories, since Kate Spade left her daughter behind.
And that was kind of Captain Obvious, to be honest. People who want to make things different but get blocked by (at minimum) the inertia of the present, people who envision a world that could be but isn’t here yet….
It’s no surprise these are the people who get frustrated. Who get discouraged. Whose sometimes struggle to keep any determination going (or, sometimes, get out of bed). And who sometimes get tired of fighting those battles.
All that does is make it not surprising, unremarkable.
It doesn’t make it suck any less.
I can gauge my own mental health by the number of times I think a specific, very clearly articulated phase in the course of the day. It’s one of the most clearly-in-words things I hear inside my own head:
I wish I had my mother.
It’s kind of a dumb statement. My mother has been dead for over 10 years, and while she was sweet, and kind, and an excellent parent, she wouldn’t get what I’m going through when it’s tough. She would have sympathized, and she could kick butt when it came to silentl worrying. But advice? Guidance? Help? Not so much.
I think I want the idea of a mom more than my actual mom. Why?
One of the reasons that researchers have identified for why depression is so common among entrepreneurs is isolation. I don’t mean the live in a hut in the wilderness kind of isolation. Most of us know that it’s perfectly possible to feel alone in the middle of a whole swarm of people (check in with your nearest 14-year old if you’ve forgotten about that).
I think entrepreneurs and change-makers of all types experience a special kind of isolation that’s probably closer to that awkward-middle-school experience than most of us want to admit. We know we’re weirdos. We sacrifice hobbies, social lives, friendships to this thing we’re chasing. We don’t even always know we’re doing that. Sometimes they seem to just quietly slip away.
And families, spouses, children, lovers, don’t fill that. Sometimes what we’re doing threatens them or the life they want. So you can be in the middle of a lot of people, and still feel…very, very, alone.
I don’t have a clean answer for that today. I think it comes with the territory. In an odd way, I suppose we can be encouraged by the fact that we’re not alone in this.
*insert weirdo secret handshake of your choice*