How my anxiety has set me up for success in my business.
In honour of World Mental Health Day
I wanted to take a minute to tell the story of how I got through the worst of my anxiety to a place where those same tendencies have helped me to build the business of my dreams!
I was first diagnosed
with ‘an anxiety disorder due to trauma’ when I was 16, but looking back I’ve had it for most of my life. My dad was recently telling me about how when my brother and I were young, he’d be playing with his Matchbox cars and racing them all over the house, while I lined mine up by size, type and colour!
I couldn’t sleep.
I had intrusive thoughts and panic attacks. I ruminated on things until I felt sick and genuinely thought I was a monstrous human. Coming from a family where depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder are all a part of the lives of those close to me - my family was pretty well equipped to help me start to deal. My dad was committed to staying up late with me when I was so afraid of my mind running amuck that I couldn’t sleep. My parents helped me to find a therapist. The next year I went to college/university and I found Wendi - the best therapist a gal could ever ask for who helped me to build a toolbox to cope with anxiety (which at one phase included medication), helped me learn to destigmatise the trauma in my own mind and most importantly helped me to learn about how my brain worked differently from those without anxiety. It was a bumpy and tough ride through the first years of adulthood.
10 years later, I’ve learned to stop wishing I could get rid of my anxiety. I wouldn’t say I embrace it just yet, but I respect that my brain has always just been trying to (over)protect me and stay ready for anything.
I’ve learned that many of the things that I attribute to my anxiety are the same type of things that make me a kickass virtual assistant. For example, my anxiety causes overthinking, my obsession with checklists, the need to have my house pretty damn tidy.
However my anxiety also has influenced
my attention to detail, my ability to not let things slip through the cracks, and graphics/blog posts/documents being formatted so they are neat and aesthetically pleasing. My love of lists on lists on lists means I’m happy to keep not only my to-do lists, but the lists of tasks and goals that my clients are looking to achieve. It means I take the time to get the job done right and make sure my systems and processes benefit both myself AND my clients. It means I’m a productivity tool geek and my clients trust my opinions when they are looking for a social media scheduler, accounting software or project management system that suits THEIR needs.
That said, in this phase of my business,
I find that I almost live in fear of growth. Because what if I can't handle it? What happens when I have almost enough business to leave my (incredible) day job, but I'm not quite there. Will I be able to keep up and not start having panic attacks again? Will I be able to get the amount of sleep that keeps me in a more rational state of mind? Will I find the time to enjoy a lazy Sunday with my husband?
I'm not sure how to make it work just yet, but I'm starting to learn to trust myself to figure it out - at my own pace. The ‘club’ of entrepreneurs with mental health battles is pretty big, some of my biggest inspirations have faced the same feelings so I know I can do it.
Do more for Mental Health Awareness!
Spread the word to destigmatise the problem and help those still learning to cope: