When It Feels Like Your Body Is Failing You, It Affects Your Mind and Emotions Too

Before I started my business, I took a small business course at my local community college. At that time, I hadn’t found all the online business “gurus” and only knew about SBDC and local NJ entrepreneurship resources because of my community involvement. This was helpful because I got to understand business foundations and see the value in learning more than just “5 steps to growing your email list”.  At that time, I also didn’t have any intention to start an online business *gasp*. I was going to start a family owned cafe and bakery. I had a great idea for one that I had done research on and saw that there was no-one else in the area with this particular concept. The resources I had located told me to try a business course 1st to see how viable the idea was including, working at a job that would feel similar to the business you want to start…long story short, my lack of resources and my impatience and frustration working in hospitality let me know that the only way I’d own a cafe would be if I was simply the money person.

But let me backtrack. While in the course, the instructor asked us to discuss things like health policies. We all chuckled when those who had already ran businesses, (some brick and mortar) answered “don’t get sick”. I didn’t realize then how much that was no laughing matter.  But even more importantly, I didn’t realize what that type of answer would reveal about the culture of many businesses – from micro businesses like virtual assistance and online business management , to corporations including the incorporated nonprofit.

Our culture has an unspoken rule that illness is taboo. 

Even articles that I read about wellness programs are essentially saying ‘hurry up and be well so you can be a productive, highly engaged workhorse…err we mean workforce for our money making machine’. Ok I’m over exaggerating, but I’m not that far off. Because after being around and listening to the narratives of people who are chronically ill, who have had doctors that were so inclined to be the expert that they stop listening to their plea for care when they’ve told doctors that despite a clean bill of healthy “something isn’t right here”.  Or I’ve listened to those who have disabilities, some seen, others unseen, (like people with heart conditions) and I’ve heard how people treat them because they aren’t the right kind of sick. I’ve learned that mainstream doesn’t have a contingency plan for those who aren’t deemed contributors even when they really are…just not at the moment, or not in a way that fits contemporary expectations.

And truth be told, you have to have a radical self-love practice for your body to contend with the fact that illness is not tolerated for the long-haul and even attacked. 

And yes, this…rejection of your…being messes with your mind. It’s a close encounter with trauma. It’s traumatic to be you and be hated for no other reason than being yourself. And trauma was one of the causes for mental health disorder that came up in the research for my book on mental health and entrepreneurship over and over again. So, advocates like myself combat the trauma of being ostracized while also at the same time proactively encouraging and extending resources for healing.

This is why StigmaFighters exists. This is why large advocacy groups exists. And also why smaller grassroots who address the needs of people often left out in the bid for healthcare reform exists. This is why RadicalWell exists. And even why Love Yourself Love Your Business exists. Why do we have to be advocates even when we’re not mental health professionals? To decrease stigma yes, but really it’s about creating a shift in culture.

Wellness policies that reach beyond bringing in a personal trainer or “an app for that” (though those are important too) but also include health risk assessments, peer advocacy and support for leaders that offer up compassionate resources that say you don’t need to deny your illness and disease/illness management could go a long way. I think this concept of wellness at work is applicable for small business and micro business owners who may or may not be a 1 person shop just as much as it is for the big companies.

“Don’t get sick” is not a health care plan.

It denies our basic humanity and encourages mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. But really it encourages a culture that shames, stigmatizes and traumatizes our human experience. And quite frankly, we can do better than this.

Until Next Time…Peace, Love, and Wellness!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Passive Suicidal Ideation: A Discussion About Money + Mental Health

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

Did you know (according to Money and Mental Health Policy Institute), if you’ve had a “major financial crisis” within the past six months, you are nearly eight times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts?

Imagine a freelancer who doesn’t know when their next gig will come in.  They struggle with the feast or famine cycle many freelancers experience.

Imagine a startup founder (Someone who has literally given their blood, sweat, tears, and every last dollar in the hopes of getting noticed by an investor). They experience financial crisis more often than not until they “make it”.

But some things you can’t “fake” like passive suicidal ideation.

Passive suicidal ideation is the desire to die. It’s not accompanied by a plan to end your life, but the thoughts are real and intense.

I’m not a finance blogger like everyone else on this tour, but as a business owner, I know all too well the frustrations of not having enough money and wondering if I should call it quits. I’ve experienced the joy of paying off one student loan, while feeling the sorrow of not being able to afford my mortgage payments. I know from personal experience that my former company, A & D Media, was formed with less than $200 and dream. Which was pretty much the last bit of money in my and my business partner’s pockets. I took a risk like many of us who are entrepreneurial do. In some ways, I’ve failed. In others, I’ve succeeded. It really is a ride, this business life.

While I’ve never attempted suicide, many nights I was plagued with depressing thoughts. I used to wish and dream about never existing. I felt like the world wanted me gone, that the world hated me. I wished I didn’t have to exist in a world where I felt I was born to be hated.

This was passive suicidal ideation. But I didn’t know that at the time.

Eventually, with the help of therapy and finding my “why” (purpose), I overcame these thoughts.

My life changed when I discovered that I was surrounded by purpose. And I learned to set goals to help me with my purpose under all 6 slices of life for the year: personal, social, physical, spiritual, professional, and financial.

A culmination of my goals and purpose led me to write my book, Success to die for: Breaking down assumptions about anxiety, depression, & suicide and their impact on business women, which advocates for mental wellness in business so as to prevent further entrepreneur suicides.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned (and share in my book) that whatever load you’re carrying around in your life comes right along with you into your business venture. And that includes mental health issues. So while we can appear to “have it all together” financially, we can also be depressed, experience chronic disease, have anxiety, addictive behaviors, etc.

I’m lending my voice for the business owners who haven’t “arrived” yet. Who are still climbing the ladder of financial success. All while maintaining their mental health. Heck, I’m lending my voice for those who have seen financial success, and still feel empty and unfulfilled inside.

Resources

Join the Love Yourself Love Your Business mental wellness movement tribe and surround yourself with fellow entrepreneurs breaking mental health stigmas.

NAMI Suicide Prevention Month Advocacy

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Until Next Time…Peace, Love, and Wellness!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.