← Return Home

Entrepreneurship, Depression & Loneliness The Bane of Start-Ups

It’s no secret that I struggle with mental illness. Frequent Highs accompanied by steep Lows, my mood is about as volatile as the Bitcoin Stock Market. Couple this with my strong views, opinions and crazy dreams about the world, talk like “we can save” it, we can use games to save the world, one game, one story one person, one YOU at a time!

Alongside my severe and awkward communication style. Sure some people say you communicate just fine, you are doing great. But the energy it takes to translate my thought, my tone of voice, and my facial expressions into their language, constantly hearing. Why are you talking to me like that?! And you need to socially get in line, adapt and gain some social tact or get out of the club, or putting those off who don’t know me personally (which is what business is all about transacting with people you DON’T KNOW personally)— as a result my life has been a lonely one, such that out of necessity I’ve had to learn to value solitude.

I see the world differently, I stand apart from the world. I feel different even though I know that I am no different than the rest of the world, I truly believe: We are all one. I feel like a dreamer most days. Looking at the map of problems in the world, and figuring out what solutions are out there, trying to bring them altogether. My thoughts and viewpoints are extreme, the very thing that allows me to sit with the world and understand it and love it for what it is, is the same thing that causes me to stand apart from the world sometimes even downright loathing it for its cruelty. It’s hard to love the world all of the time, and yet it is part of my practice, and something I work on bit by bit, every single day, even—especially when it comes to loving myself, flaws and all.

As the main founder of Zenratstudios, and as an Entrepreneur I tend to avoid speaking of the downs. Of the challenges, pitfalls, at least not without giving it a positive twist. But today I want to write about the challenges of having mental illness, particularly depression and the loneliness of being a leader, an entrepreneur, a visionary and a creative writer. Creativity and depression seem to go hand in hand and yet that seems to be a requirement for Entrepreneur’s, to see outside the box.

I am a hybrid Dreamer/Architect. My brain functions completely different in that my personality shifts from “Left” and “Right” brain thinking, according to are you a left brain or a right brain tests for fun it always says, “You are both, your brain is divided and shifts from one side to the other”. It’s funny because I always feel divided. I feel differently, I see differently, I identify in ways that people find hard to understand. I feel like pure energy trapped in a body that is always shifting into one mind from the next, the only thing constant is my evolving dreams.

These feelings aren’t unique to me, some of them are even pretty common. So here are some thoughts about why people who have Mental Illness also make great Entrepreneur’s but struggle.

The Thing That Makes Us Different, Sets Us Apart: This Makes Support Hard To Find And Teams with Compatible Personalities Challenging to Build

Visionaries and great leaders are rare. The ability to think outside of the box and be able to separate yourself from the crowd is not something that everyone can do, in fact we’re designed by default to herd, like sheep around a sheepherder. Visionaries are a special breed. They are the brilliant scientists, the engineers, the architects, the great writers, holding entire worlds, landscapes, and maps inside their head, just waiting to be made real, to transport what is dream into reality.

Imagine drawing a building at 4 or 8 years old and saying, one day I am going to build this. People who can’t do it, or believe it’s too hard will tell you to keep dreaming and do something sensible. And you alone will have to be the one to find a way to say, yes, yes I can, and pave a path so that others can see, all the while they tell you it’s not possible. By default Visionaries live in a dream world, a fantasy world, we’re constantly dreaming and our job is to be able to acquire the skills to make those dreams real, or to acquire the assets and finances to hire people who can.

Because of this mentality we have that sets us apart, it may be hard to find support. Imagine for instance being a Techie in a world where 98% of people who surround you are non-techies. No one knows what a blockchain is, or about the new and innovative features. Imagine being a Game Developer in a world where 98% of the people that surround you don’t care or even trust games, downplaying their value. Or Imagine being a Writer in a world where 98% of the people don’t write. Now imagine you find a niche, a group the 2% of people in society who think like you, who are trying and exploring this new technology…and now imagine that the type of people exploring the same thing you are exploring are a demographic different from yours, have a culture and mindset different from yours, making you stand out like a sore thumb among even your own ‘niche’.

Can you picture being an Evangelist Christian Female working in a field that is predominately Male and Atheist leaning?

As an Entrepreneur the ability to find like-minded people, who support your vision, and who would even want to join your team, where personalities mesh is possible, but hard. The challenges of that, building a team, and having support, and being set apart and different even among your own team is lonely. If building a team, and finding support for their ideas are hard imagine how lonely it must feel for these ‘visionaries’ finding close friends and even lovers. How common is it for truly genuine and authentic leaders to build both strong healthy families, and a team?

And yet their entire success rides on their ability to find common-ground and build connections and bridges with people who may or may not understand them. In a world, in a species where we’re taught to trust that which is like-us and to conform with the majority in order to survive, being a visionary can quickly turn into a witch hunt.

It is for this reason, that an important qualities a person has to have in this field are: Passion, Perseverance and Persistence. Steve jobs himself said “You have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing because it is so hard…that any rational person would give up.”

Another tip is to learn how to view the no’s as constructive criticism. For every challenge, or no, or I can’t, or You can’t, that is brought up, be willing and able to view it as simply a challenge, a puzzle to be solved. For every puzzle and challenge there is a solution, transform those You Can’t’s into Challenges and Puzzles to be solved, and then jump, climb, or fly over them.

We’re aware that: 9 Out of 10, or 3 out of 4 Start Ups Fail, And we Might Be One, Esp. If We Don’t Adapt (And A lot of us Won’t)

We know that there is a huge amount of risk that comes with being a start-up. The biggest risk is failure. We may have quit our jobs, be working on shoestring budgets, trying to bootstrap and reach out to people who only want profit, who need to feed their families. Everything is riding on the success of this business and yet, we know that we’re going to fail at it 9x’s out of 10. So it means that we have try 10+ times, tweaking the formula until we get it right. There are a lot of people who don’t tweak, or adapt, or try. If it fails they just give up.

But knowing that, knowing that your ability to plan and strategize and to be able seek and find help whether it is paid or community resources, and the long road ahead can be even more daunting. Everything is riding on your success.

To survive we have to rethink how we view failures, to see failures as a positive, bringing you one step closer to the solution, because now you know what WON’T work. We have to constantly be adapting, flexible, open to new things. This is a learned trait. We’re not taught to compromise, to adapt, to be flexible. We live in a world where new technologies crop up every day where we have to be innovative. For a long time we’ve been taught to value traditions, to stick with the old and distrust anything new.

Moreover we have to have the ability to keep moving forward, to keep trying, again and again, to gain increasingly more skill. Aside from that the biggest skill is to not think of it as daunting, think of it as fun. When you play a video game and the whole world is on your shoulders game designers have found a way to make it fun, in that same way you can design and develop your own life, gamify it in such a way where failing, is part of growth and growth is transformative, painful and yes just like in games can be made fun.

It’s Cutthroat World Out There

We’re surrounded day and night by people who are in this to make money, who need money, no one will help you for free. The same people who you hang around with may view you as a competitor, rather than someone to cooperate with, maybe you even view them as a competitor. They don’t have time to hear you or to read your 15 page business plan and give it feedback. Would you yourself have the same time if it were in reverse? The people by majority that you reach out to, don’t care about your dreams, they just care about their own thing, it is all about money, and making a living and how can interacting with you -help them-.

It’s for this reason to make it you have to detach and develop thick skin. You cannot take anything personally, and have to remember that everyone wants something from you, they want incentive. You have to create incentive, you have to create value. To give people a reason to work with you. What do you have that makes you so special? You have to prove yourself, earn people’s attention, figure out what it is that they want and then give that to them. Time is precious, tons of people are vying for their attention. And you’ve gotta figure out how to get it.

Thick skin is a huge must, not taking things personally, and really being able to make it fun, turn it into a game. When a game is fun and enjoyable, pleasurable, and when you don’t take anything personal you never have to attack people, get on the defensive and so forth. It’s all fun and being a good and friendly sport is part of it.

It’s hard, but the biggest thing I’ve learned in all this is that developing thick skin, while keeping a soft, open and friendly heart, and treating it as engaging and fun, an adventure is the best medicine to take the edge off of the stress.

In time your efforts may allow you to find people who share the vision, but there’s a lot of walking alone and paving the path that needs to be done before many people even agree to step onto the rollercoaster with you.

The World Isn’t Always Ready For The Gift

Sometimes we’re just ahead of our time. Sometimes 10-15 years ahead, sometimes 100 years ahead, sometimes we’re a whole evolutionary gap, or species, or even a world ahead of the rest of the world. Imagine what it was like to be Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickinson, to have so much to give to the world, and to have the world not be ready for it. Imagine being Leonardo Da Vinci flowing with ideas, but not having the technology to create them.

Mad genius. Sometimes that’s the case, but keep trying anyway.

The Financial & Social Challenges, Loneliness & Stress Exacerbate Mental Illness

It is all the more reason to be able to have support. Sometimes though, especially for those with mental illness, all you have is your resolve, and your commitment to keep moving forward even on days where you can’t take another step.

To bring this closer to home, it’s days like today, I just lay in bed and read. Nothing makes me smile, or laugh, not even the things that usually do. It’s as though each low I build a tolerance for the new tricks I use to circumvent my brain to be happy before. All I can do then is let myself cry. Sometimes I even slip up and verbally attack the only people in my corner, and withdraw which creates a cycle by which I make a point to try hard to withdraw and keep people away, to protect them from me and my lows when I need someone the most.

So where do we go to when we have no one to go to, when our tongues are sharp and our hearts are soft and bleeding? This day in particular, I just let myself be sad, I surrender into it. I acknowledge that I hurt, that this is going to be an uphill climb, that there are going to be bad days or weeks, and I do my best anyway, knowing that my best wasn’t the same as my best yesterday, but it is my best today.

Times like these, I think about people in countries like Syria, strong, beautiful people risking their lives on dwindling fees, rescuing girls in a world that doesn’t care about them, and I think to myself. If they can get up every day and find the will to move forward, then so can I. I can’t look at the world this beautiful world, and watch it destroy itself and hurt others without stepping in and doing my part. No matter how challenging it is. No matter how hard the climb is.

If there is a skill I need to learn, then I learn it, if I need to raise funds, then I will. And if I have to learn how to survive in solitude, alone, without emotional support, then that’s the agreement I made when I pursued the road less traveled. I’m not going to give up. And neither should anyone who else who has a dream, who truly has insight and something of value that they can learn to hone and harness and give back to others.

I remind myself why I’m doing this. If I have the energy I read about things in my field, that inspire me. I read about brave activists, I watch Ted Talks, I listen to It gets better stories, I keep an eye out for hope, and I keep. Moving. Forward. Even if I have to drag myself, even if I have to type one key at a time, one day at a time. Because sometimes, when you have a dream that so much bigger than you, when it is more than you, that’s all you can do.

So here’s to all those entrepreneur’s out there, struggling with mental illness. This post is for you. I understand your journey, I feel it. I stand in solidarity and my message is to keep moving forward, keep trying. Figure out your gift to the world, and you find a way to give it. We need you, we need more people like you in this world, people who have the strength to stand against adversity who climb the highest mountain and give us messages of hope, even when it feels like it’s the end of the world. You’ve got a gift for the world, whether they’re ready or not. This is a call to all heroes to stand up, to keep moving forward. It’s a call to me, it’s a call to you. One person, one story at a time.

How To Reconnect With What You Love and to Who You Really Are

Sometimes you have to fall a little bit to remember who you are. This past week highs turned into creeping lows. The person I knew myself to be whithered away, and the person I was, was gone. For a moment I lost touch with the heart of my project. I was someone else, and that someone else couldn’t remember the point. When I finally reconnected with my project and my life I had been cultivating it was a breath of fresh air. Perhaps I’m more of an extreme than most people. I shift personalities the way some people shift suits. The extreme jump from being Person A to being Person C. Watching Person A get allocated to Person’s Z’s mind. Feeling as though one day everything I loved is gone and I can’t relate to what I loved anymore, what I valued, or believed. In those moments it goes beyond not caring, but to feeling differently, to not even understanding why I even want to help or share with people who do not want to help themselves. It’s that part of the mind that clocks out, who doesn’t care to share with a people who might not understand how good it feels to be connected in this place. And it’s in those moments that I lose my connection.

There are insight to be gained from these moments.

I’ve always known that hidden beneath the changing minds, the changing realities, the changing perceptions there was one core reality. One true self, that could be integrated with the whole. I know how good it feels to be connected to this whole, this source, without the fear. And all the work, all the years I’ve spent cultivating tools to help me integrate my whole, to help myself feel connected to the source, to see. To see what is, what’s real, and not what isn’t. To see who we truly are underneath all the personality and the masks, and to build ourselves up and create a better world, a better reality for ourselves and others.

Our goal here should be to connect with our core self, to shed away all the things we are not, to connect with this entity and to remember who we really are. From this place we can expand and cultivate a self that is transformed and connected with love and source, and retreat as refuge to this place daily until we have merged completely into this place of love. It is a practice, and we all have a habit of falling away from this source. But imagine this core self like a plug, and when you fall off the horse, all you have to do is replug, reconnect. No need to feel sorry or sad about yesterday, about giving into our sadnesses, our jealousy’s, losing ourselves. All of that’s gone, all there is, is just this moment. And from this moment you can plant anything.

So here’s some tips on how to reconnect with yourself and who you are, to reconnect with this place of Love and Source.

Set Aside Minutes

Even if you’re distracted and your mind is completely preoccupied and absorbed in something else, set aside a few minutes. Maybe start off with a few seconds, then try again, maybe throughout the day maybe even the next day. Stilling your mind is a super power. It’s like stopping to see if you can levitate an object, but in this case you’re stopping to see if you can still your mind in order to reconnect with yourself. Without quieting the noise. The feelings you won’t be able to hear yourself.

Ask Basic Questions Throughout the Day

The first question asks, if you want to reconnect with your project. And why not? What resistance are you facing? Why don’t you want to work on your project? Make this an exercise. You might find that even when you can’t still your mind everyday you’re able to elicit questions from yourself every day. This is essential. Try to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you loved what you loved? Do you still love it? Has it changed? What about you has changed? Do you feel differently? What do you feel? Why? Ask yourself questions, and then ask your questions questions, keep answering them.

This self-elicitation, or self-inquiry is an exercise and the purpose it serves is to uproot barriers and get to the source, the heart of the matter.

Uproot the Barrier

All of these questions are meant to do two things. One they’re meant to uproot the barrier, to get to the conflict. That inner conflict, that little voice that conflicts with what you believe or want. Maybe you’re sad because you want to be working, but maybe you’re not working because you don’t feel like you’re any good, you’re an imposter, not smart enough. Or maybe you’re not working because you can’t get yourself to care about it but you want to care, and if you ask yourself why you care, you might say it’s important to me, and if you say it’s important to me, you have to ask why and then figure that out. The barrier is the belief or thought that stops you. The reason your mind gives you from not pursuing something or to pursue something else. It may be accompanied with sadness, or happiness, or even just awareness that you’re not doing something else and don’t care. Even if you don’t care in one moment, you may care in the next, and having these questions ready is the purpose.

The second reason is, aside from the barrier, uprooting the barriers and challenges help you to discover what you want, or the why, the ‘what’. Understanding the roots helps you understand the ‘what’. When you’ve determined what you want to do, you can remove the barrier and realize what and why it is what it is. You can go a step further and ask more questions, sometimes the questions lead themselves into a loop. But if you can ask the right question and uproot the barrier. Then you’ve discovered your core “What” , your “Why”, and it’s that why. Remembering why you’re doing any of this, that can help reignite that passion. That’s the goal.

Note. The goal isn’t to look for reason to reconnect. You don’t need a reason, it’s already there. The goal is to listen to your heart, and to remind yourself. To uproot any barriers or conflicts within your limited beliefs and systems that keep you from it. The more you create a habit of doing it the quicker and easier this process is.

Throughout the Day Breathe in Pain, Send out Love

It feels weird to say breathe in pain, send out love. That’s a practice called Tonglen and Loving-Kindness meditation. When you breathe in pain of the world you hold it within yourself and transmute it with a cool balm of love, and then you send that love back out. You transform the world around you with love. Take in pain, transmute it into love and send it out. One way to transmute the pain is to visualize yourself connecting to a source and well of infinite love. Then visualize that source of love transmuting your own pain with love. Explore that pain, examine it, question it. Don’t attach to the thoughts, just inquire from them. Breathe in the pain deeper into love, let it turn into that love, and then breathe it out until nothing but love surrounds you.

Meditate

We come full-circle. Eventually we’ll arrive at the stillness within us. All will be silent, and in that silence we are home. And in that place if we listen we will find our passion again, it could be just a spark. Something that reminds us. But do this a little bit every day, set a little bit of time each day to allow your project, yourself, your love, anything you want. We can’t always be connected with this source, this place within ourselves 24/7, especially not in the beginning. This is OK. Do these steps, practice these 5 steps everyday that you struggle with writer’s block, or disconnection from your love, your project, from anything. Relax into it, give yourself space and room. Don’t push it, and it will come. Just like that. Treat it like a daily exercise, where some days are easier than others, others not so much. It’s from this place of clarity that you can determine what your next actions if at all will be, take the right steps, make the right moves, and do whatever it is you wanted to do with your life.

How To Remain Productive When Finances Are Down

Today I have $12 in my bank account.  I live off of $700/month and only have room to spend $200 each new month. This past week my car a former salvage title was totaled, they gave me 2k and with the help of my grandmother and 90% of my income I was able to get a new used car. It blew away my savings and my cushion and left me with a dilemma I feel many new indie developers and other entrepreneurs struggle with: Remaining calm, grounded and productive when you’re running on bankrupt.

Here are some Tips I use to stay positive:

What Is Does Not Determine What Will Be

Think about it. What is right now could be you are a single, no children. Then one day something happens and you are a future parent. One day you are a parent, with dreams and future for your children, then the next all those dreams are gone because your child died. One day you have a best friend or a lover, and everything seems great, and the next day they’re gone. Maybe less dramatically one day you don’t have a fridge, and then the next day you do. One day you’re not here, the next day you’re born, and the next day after you’re dead: If every moment in the now, determined what will be tomorrow, then nothing would be here. That’s the beauty of impermanence.

Reevaluate, Strategize and Keep Moving Forward

Take a moment to reevaluate your situation, what’s going well, what isn’t. How much income is going out, how much income is going in, develop a strategy and keep moving forward.

It’s important to come up with a well researched plan of action, taking note of the pros, the cons, the common pitfalls and trap and to develop a plan to act and to keep moving forward. If we don’t know or aren’t sure, then it’s important to be receptive and open to receiving a message or an idea and to work towards that.

Have Some Faith Too

Develop and cultivate the mantra: I do not how, but somehow I know that everything will work out in my favor. There’s a quote floating around that states, “Faith is not about everything turning out okay, Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.”

Trust that no matter how things turn out that you will always be OK, that you are equipped and can become equipped to adapt to those surroundings, to transform and reinvent yourself to those needs. If you’ve familiarized yourself with the Unconditionals then one of the core precepts  is Unconditional Transformation and Unconditional Learning, this is the ability to learn from your surroundings, and to allow those surroundings to transform you. To constantly reinvent yourself and grow within the present of every Now.

So Have Faith in knowing that you’ve got this, that this is only temporary and will remain temporary if you keep moving forward. It’ll all work out in the end, you don’t have to know how, just know that if you persevere (unconditional perseverance) you’ll succeed.

Ask Yourself: What Action Or Step Can I Do To Help Get This Going Today

Be receptive and open to this. Go about your day, read, look for inspiration, brainstorm. Focus on steps, actions, plans not on the bank account. See the path you want, see that it’s there and ask what steps need to be taken to get there and then walk towards it. Take the steps.

Meditate and Focus on the Doors That Will Take you There

Focus on opportunities and doors, not on the challenges and setbacks.

List Places Where You Feel Lack and Explore Those Blockages

Explore the blockages and challenges that prevent you or hinder you from moving forward, look for solutions, simplify them or the situation. Really become aware of the blockages and what may be causing them. Acknowledge their presence.

Refill Those Blockages with Gratitude & Abundance

Make a list of everything you are grateful for, every moment. If you’re homeless, were you able to find a place to sleep? Are you alive? This can be much harder to do in the face of more violent adversities, and we each have our own limits on what we can take. But everyday list what you’re grateful for. If what you’re grateful for yesterday is no longer present today or a few moments later then be even more grateful for the experience; while knowing that nothing we have is forever. We live on borrowed time, so let’s appreciate every moment and make it count.

Save And Make Every Dollar Count

Set aside some money, and make every dollar that you do use count. Focus on quality, cut corners, take your time and build.

Poverty Traps & Mindsets

Poverty mindset is coming from a Place of lack. It’s when we say, “We can’t have our cake and eat it too.” Well, what’s the point of cake if you can’t eat it? It’s the idea that there is only ONE person in this entire world who is meant for us; or that there is only ONE car we are meant to have. Mindset and Attitude is what differentiates someone who can lose it all and make it back and someone who can gain it all but loses it and can’t keep it.

Part of this comes from our poverty trap. In a system designed around consumerism, and uncertainty. Where tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so we are forced to think short-term gain at the expense of long-term pain. A lot of poverty traps are based on a combination of conditioning, learned helplessness, a system where we see those who are better off than us having an easier time advancing and so on. It’s a self-perpetuating condition where a combination of factors make it worse.

We don’t have a lot of resources in society to break out of that trap, and even resources to help us are designed with the idea that people are “Takers” so you have to be in poverty and stay in poverty to receive help. For instance if you go over 2k in your bank account you no longer qualify for financial assistance in many areas. So if your car breaks down you can easily wipe through what little you do have or be forced to take out a loan, and if your credit is bad or you have none it can get harder.

It’s 100% essential to break out of the poverty trap, and we can do this by utilizing free and available resources within our community, and changing our mindset.

Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain

Nothing no matter how painful it seems is forever. People who succeed aren’t exceptions to the rules. When you find your strengths, and focus on developing and working on yourself, discovering and nurturing your strengths and passions. When you build and strategize a clear path, go to the drawing board to figure out what’s working and what’s not working and delegate finding resources and help where you can, you succeed. We each have a special gift int he world, find that gift and give it. Anything that is painful right now is only short-term pain that will lead to long-term gain. Focus on the goal and build a path towards it.

Center Your Mind

All the pain and circumstance around you is noise. It is not forever. Center yourself amidst the storm, find your center, ground yourself, still your mind and focus.

Find Support

Being an entrepreneur especially with mental illness can offer flexibility and accommodation. Unfortunately the costs of transportation, treatment, stress and setback can often deter people from this path. Not having an adviser or people to rely on, and depending on the severity of the mental illness being able to run a business may not be an option. But for people who are able to run a business rather than simply work for another; it’s crucial to find some support. Someone who can rally you on, or help you with resources. Look to counselors, local mental health providers.

Explore places like: SCORE where they offer mentoring and business advice.

 

Bootstrap – BONUS

If you have a car, explore Uber, or other methods on making money. Think about it if you need an extra $200, then just $10 from 5 people gets you $50. That’s more or less minimum wage in some areas.

If you can donate plasma or blood find a local hospital, if you breastfeed you can bring in extra money. Scavenge for cans and Recycle metal. Do an online survey like Cashcrate or make money  using your search engine like swagbucks.

There are many ways to make money and depending on if you have mental illness or not and what degree it inhibits you to go out there what you can do varies. You can even go grocery shopping and run errands for the people and elderly within your neighborhod just to make some extra cash.

Here are some more links for ideas: 25 unusual ways to make money, 50 ways to make $50, and more.

Take A Walk And Enjoy Life

Take a moment to really look around and smell the roses. Smile, play with your children. Enjoy the world. There’s so much going on beyond ourselves, so many people suffering and hurting, but also many people living and full of love. Smile, it’s going to be OK.

How To Develop Games In The Midst Of Depression or Loss

Depression is a real challenge that I have to face in my work. I feel in our society that there is not as much support and resources that there could be, specifically when it comes to work and rehabilitation, and helping supporting people. For instance, I love writing and game development. Storytelling and world building, creating worlds and being able to share that with others who care or find value in it genuinely makes me feel happy. For others this is their art, or their music. I also love volunteering and working with animals and meeting new people, though the stimulus and my inability to focus on both my work and socialization can overwhelm me.

The Work Force

To this affect one thing I realized in my attempts to adapt and survive in a world that wasn’t quite made for me, is that people aren’t sensitive or aware or even capable with all their own pressures and daily stresses of understanding themselves let alone what you’re going through. I think even the average person could benefit from work built around their unique challenges, gifts and needs; the idea that a work schedule can be more flexible, where demand can be dealt with in increments. Where each human being is valued.

I remember one time trying to meet the high paced demands of work and having my boss sigh with exhaustion and say, “Look I have 50 other employees to look over, I don’t have the time to worry about your special needs.” I was slowly falling apart. The excitement and enthusiasm I had initially felt, getting to deliver pizzas and go door to door, meeting all the amazing people just turned into constant anxiety. Anxiety that I would not be able to meet the high demands, anxiety that I would mess up an order and get yelled at, anxiety that I would drive through a storm and due to not being properly trained not see that napkins and cups were requested, and it seems so long ago that now I’ve forgotten what it’s like to wake up feeling blue out of nowhere in tears, not wanting to get up. Where every step, every breath is a battle.

Starting a Business: Accommodating Your Own Needs

That doesn’t go away when you decide that you’re better off accommodating yourself and starting your own business. In fact it can almost seem like there is just as much pressure because now you’re no longer guaranteed a steady paycheck. So when you wake up one day and you’re staring at a mountain of all the things you have to do to get our start-up indie off the ground, and you can’t even get out of bed let alone stop crying for those who are really down about it. Here are some tips I have found to help me, both as a single parent, and an indie developer.

I.

Tips To Cope With Down Days

Take your time

Slow and steady wins the race. It’s better to take your time and focus on quality, and getting things done one bit at a time. Work 5 minutes here, work 5 minutes there. Soon before you know it you’ll have finished your work.

Take a break

In between chipping away, take a break. Did you work hard yesterday, did you do your best? Just take a moment to be with yourself. Go for a walk, sit in the sunlight out in the back yard. Listen to a feel good meditation tape, or just let yourself cry. It’s OK, it’s just a break, it’s not forever. Honestly, I promise, it’s ok to take a day off.

Create an Overall Goal

I often give myself a deadline. I take everything I have to do and write some reasonable ideas, when I’d like to get those done, for example by the weekend; and then I write the final deadline for them. It’s amazing how when I am easy on myself and take breaks, I manage to make those goals more than when I am trying to cram and work nonstop even when I am emotionally and mentally stressed and feeling a low come on.

Do it in Bite-sized chunks

Dedicate 30 minutes here, maybe an hour there, and break it out throughout the day. Sometimes you are more productive by breaking an overall task into smaller pieces than doing the same all at once; it’s better than never doing it at all.

Create a Daily Goals List

Every morning I write a list of my goals for the day (sometimes I do it before bed). I log all my hours and what I’m doing related to those goals. I’ll log my time writing this blog, then I’ll log my time taking a break, I log every minute. It’s a habit now. I can look at when I took a break to handle my lows, to work with my children. How long I worked for, and what I got done, and what needs to be done. It helps.

Be Flexible & Patient with yourself

Part of having depression or any other mental illness is knowing sometimes you’re going to have bad days. We tend to be hardest on ourselves which can aggravate the depression as we start getting into low sense of self-worth and self-esteem. This job requires a light heart, openness, and flexibility.

Do your best within any given moment

“Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front-and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.” – Mr. Rogers

Some days you’re going to do your best in that moment and it won’t be what your best was yesterday. Give yourself some slack. Push a deadline a few days to a week ahead, so long as you are doing it.

In The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz he says do your best, and that your best changes on any day depending on how you’re feeling.

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. – Don Ruiz

Tomorrow’s a New Day

So what you didn’t get all you wanted to do in. Try again tomorrow, make this a motto that you’ll try and give it your best. And you’ll keep on trying. Push yourself to do that 5 minutes, that 30 minutes that hour, but don’t stop trying. Every morning is a great chance to reset and start over. Don’t think about yesterday and all that you didn’t get done, Today’s that day.

Do just one thing

Pick one thing off your to do list and then do it. Read about it, research it, integrate it. Do something related to it. If you can’t get out of bed, then lay in bed and scroll through your phone reading about indie game development or whatever your task of the day is. This applies to whatever you need to work on.

Meditate

To date Meditation in the beginning is hard, and by hard I mean it’s not easy to learn to sit with yourself and your emotions, to not try to distract yourself from them but to face them head on. To that effect, I meditate every day. I aim for 1 hour, twice a day, but a lot of days I just get 30-20 minutes and on the worst days I only get 5 minutes in, but I try every single day. The goal is to build mental and emotional resilience and meditation is proven to help with this. Sometimes Mindfulness (also known as Vipassana or Zen Meditation) is too much for me right away, so I’ll do a loving-kindness meditation, Jack Kornfield’s guided meditations helps a lot, other times I listen to a meditation on manifestations, realities and goals, and other times I’m too tired to get out of bed so I just lay there and do deep breathing following my breath.

The first time I really did meditation and sat with the emotions and couldn’t escape I became suicidal. I was in a fit of tears trying to escape the pain. But with support and love, compassion and perseverance it became easier and easier.

Listen To Anything That Makes you Feel Good

I find in lieu of not having many supportive friends who are available that watching a favourite TV show, or someone funny online like French & Saunders or Ellen Degeneres; or listening to self-help feel good helps. But also thinking about how infinite the universe is and all small we are and timelessness helps me too. That’s different for others.

Mental Strength Training

Research meditation and mental endurance and strength training techniques. The mind and heart is a muscle, practice it a little bit every time.

Prevention

Create a work environment that focuses on preventing lows, offers flexibility and ease, and is able to accommodate you when you do hit a really bad day.

Remove Negativity, Find a Community

I am a big believer in turning with openness and love to all things and people. But sometimes when I am sharing my thoughts on game development or on spiritual health and mental wellness, people I am talking to will put me down, or comment that they’re bored, or hate the subject, or they will really make a point to tell me what I am doing is stupid. These same people might be all I have for support and tend not to value me as a person.

Make it a habit to minimize contact with those people, love them anyway but if you need to and wherever you can, build a wall of protection. Create a buffer and reach out to communities for support. Find people who believe in your cause, who motivate you. And spend more time around them. If you don’t have a support system, find and build one. Make that a goal. And practice mental and emotional resilience in the meantime.

Letting It Out Safely

It’s usually while I am meditating that a lot of my feelings that I am suppressing or denying come out. Tears will roll from my eyes and I’ll admit that I am hurting. I’ve made a rule that when I am angry or hurting I do not vent or say any word that is not helpful or will only cause harm to another person. No matter if it’s directed or at them or no matter if I want to vent frustration. It usually only makes me feel better for a time offering short-term momentary relief, long-term however it damages and does more harm to good, and bites hard when it comes backback to me. So I write a letter in my journal describing all my pain and anger, and then work out the hurts underneath and what I really just want or need from someone or anyone. I then cry and ask for strength and really just sit with the pain and offer myself compassion. A lot of the times I’m frustrated with myself more than I am anyone else. Journaling privately helps me manage that pain and keep my interpersonal relationships in tact. It also keeps with my rule that I only say things that build people up constructively rather than trying to break them down destructively; and guess what that includes yourself. It helps to know where there’s emotions are coming from and what’s at the root, so if you need to cry then just let it all out, and get back up. It’s ok not to be ok or down sometimes.

Extra

OK so there’s plenty more that you can do, but these are the top things off the top of my head that I find help a lot. It most certainly helped me get through the day today.

Push comes to shove, if you’re finding that you’re really having a rough day in particular send an email. Share your story, explain a difficulty, and I’ll write back offering support, to rally you in your corner. I think sometimes knowing someone is listening with an empathetic ear helps.

II.

Bonus Round:

How Society can Help

Mental & Emotional Support

I believe that there are a lot of situations where just having the emotional and mental support, the love and care to get through the day can be a tremendous help. People who are well rested and happier are better producers. Offering or having access to regular support especially for jobs that have a lot of pressure and demands, and rehabilitation services can really boost the quality of a person’s endurance.

Getting Trained

In life we are going to meet a lot of different people who have various special needs. Developing empathy and emotional skills and equipping ourselves with the knowledge and unique needs of others can help. If we learn to understand what we’re dealing with then we’re more capable of leading and maximizing the success of our team. Teamwork is so incredibly important, and the traits and qualities of a Good Leader include the ability to know and understand people and maximize that success.

Now I know that in the western world, more often than not it’s traits of the sociopathic and uncaring leader that gets to the top. But the most productive organizations are the ones with the happiest workers, and happy workers feel good like they have their needs met. The ability to know that Jane just lost her mother or had a miscarriage, or Bob’s wife just left him, or maybe Kip struggles with depression and this is just a really bad day, can help us not just react to people but respond on a case by case basis.

It sounds like a lot to be compassionate, supporting, caring of your workers and to not just treat them like objects whose sole purpose is to produce for your team; to treat workers as human beings who lead real lives and have ups and downs, and to offer on-site support. That’s a big deal.

This also helps to learn how to deescalate problems rather than escalate them and solving unique problems as they come. This shows how you creatively deal with your jobs problems too.

Empathy & Understanding

I can’t say how often being told I am weird, giggled about and talked about behind my back, or told to my face I don’t understand you and I don’t want to dug deep. Having people in your life and being in an environment that wants to understand is incredibly helpful. This type of empathy and understanding is either something you’re born with or something you have to learn because our society values IQ over EQ, and definitely doesn’t seek to understand the other side or try to work with it to maximize support.

We have this it’s my way or the high way, from everything right down to our opinions and values, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

Nurturing Environments

The more high demand and pressure a job takes the more support and nurturing I believe is needed. If the work environment you are in cares about you and your family, that you’re a mom or a Dad and even offers a day care and on-site learning especially for those tech people that’s amazing. Being supported through your life changes, and having that accommodated is wicked awesome. To grow your family and your business. Yeah I’m talking about Google as one of the prime examples for how such a business can work.

If you go over to Google’s Benefits they truly work to adapt around what you’re needs are. And offer food and the opportunity and encouragement to learn more. This should be something that is available across the various professions.

Bonus: Free Food

Some people skip breakfast, or can’t afford lunch, especially in jobs that have low wage. I remember as a pizza delivery driver, I met some people who could barely pay their bills. One woman in particular had a mental illness and would steal food because she was hungry. I watched them clean the floor and drop a good pizza, then throw it away and say you couldn’t eat it. I watched them get an order wrong or have an order returned and instead of offering that pizza to their hungry low-wage workers they put it all in the back and donated it to the homeless. But offered discount to their workers. I remember being starving sometimes and having to get the right manager to say, yes you can have a pizza. Offering snacks or food that are available for free can help people, esp. those who struggle with blood sugars. Ever heard of “Hangry”, it’s a real thing.

III.

Homelessness

I am no stranger to having your life depend on your work; while having little to no income. You still have to take it easy on yourself, and be good to yourself. Follow your dream with passion and perseverance and always strive to do better. Read about inspirational stories like J.K Rowling, watch the Pursuit of Happiness. Realize that the only thing standing between you and your dream is learning your craft, what it takes to succeed, and fail, and to keep moving forward.