An Honest Look at Mental Health and Entrepreneurship

A Drop in the Ocean Tacoma Zero Waste Sustainable Living Blog Mental Health and Entrepreneurship
This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on July 19, 2021.

Hey friend :) I hope you are having a nice week. The weather here in Tacoma was so gorgeous yesterday, I just wanted to lay in the sun all day.

Last week, I shared that I’ve been in a low for the last few weeks. That I’ve been feeling uninspired and a little unmotivated. So instead of talking about plastics (like I felt like I should be talking about because it’s Plastic Free July), I gushed about my favorite animal, the okapi. And I got SO many emails from your fellow EcoWarriors telling me how much they loved the post.

It’s always those posts when I’m thinking, “Is anyone going to care about this? Everyone’s going to be disappointed in me,” that I get the biggest responses from. It’s just one of the many reasons I love this community.

This week, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’m not quite there, but I’m on the upswing now.

And so when I sat down to write this post, I had every intention of finally writing about plastics.

I wanted to just move on from the low and forget it happened.

But then I realized...who is that serving?

If we don’t talk about mental health, we keep the stigma alive. When we brush it under a rug and pretend it never happened, we aren’t helping anyone.

So instead, I want to share with you - in complete vulnerability - what really happened in my world in the last 10 days.

Last Friday, I took a long drive to La Conner, Washington to pick up a carful of products. These drives are usually my favorite times. The weather is somehow always gorgeous on these days, and it’s five to six hours alone on the road to jam out, catch up on podcasts, sip on a frappuccino, and reflect.

But instead, I was anxious and angry the whole day. For no reason at all.

Saturday, I literally spent all day in bed.

Sunday, I tried to write that week’s Make Waves Monday but had no energy to do so. I went out with some friends and had a lot of fun, but still felt...meh.

Monday, you know that story. I went to brunch with a friend who inspired me to write about okapi when I couldn’t bring myself to do more.

It was also around Monday or Tuesday when I started pushing people away.

Tuesday, I had my weekly meeting with Nichole, my lovely assistant, and felt pretty out of it the whole time. I went out on deliveries, and then basically zoned out for a few hours until 5:00 when I had a scheduled webinar to attend. I barely watched it. Then, just before I went to bed, I received an email notification that one of our products had received a 4-star review. I cried...hard.

It was also on Tuesday that I received an email from a business coach I follow, Rachel Turner (please go give her a follow), that said the following:

Which brought me to today, wanting to remind those of you who struggle with a mental illness, or your mental health—that you can….

-Run a business and be anxious
-Run a business and heal at the same time
-Be depressed and run your business 
-Barely be able to get out of bed, and still be a good business owner

We don't see enough of both and.

Running a business AND barely making it out alive.

Running a business and being happy, AND not being able to get out of bed.

I’ve been sitting with these words since - and truth be told they’re a big part of why I’m sharing my struggles this week. Because reading these words from Rachel made me realize I’m not alone. And my sincerest hope is that by sharing my struggles, one person may also realize they’re not alone.

Wednesday, I parked myself in a coffee shop and spent a solid six hours decluttering my inbox. It took everything in me to leave the house, and it drained my energy completely. I came home and kept telling myself I needed to pack orders, but just couldn’t do it.

Thursday was the hardest. I didn’t get out of bed until 10am, and then spent most of the morning crying. Truthfully, I don’t remember what I did that afternoon. I’m not sure if I worked or if I layed on the couch all day. Around 3:30, I realized I needed to shower, as Nichole was coming over at 5 to help pack orders. I got in the shower, sat down, and cried. After a while, I composed myself, stood up, immediately started crying again, and sat back down. Eventually, I got up, finished my shower, and turned off the water. I grabbed my towel, stepped out of the shower, and sat down on the bathroom floor and cried again.

In this moment, I realized I couldn’t push everyone away anymore. I picked up my phone, and - after several rewrites and a lot of internal pushback - texted a friend that I was struggling, and I was not okay.

A few moments later, he called me. Answering the phone was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I made it from the bathroom to my bedroom, answered the phone, and when he asked what was wrong, I just started crying again. He stayed on the phone with me while I cried; he didn’t push, he didn’t judge, didn’t expect anything of me, just stayed on the phone with me, and reassured me that it’s okay to not be okay.

After I calmed down, I told him Nichole was coming over soon. He asked me, “Do you have the capacity for her to come over?” And I said, “I don’t have the capacity for her not to come over. These orders need to be packed and I just can’t do it.”

He suggested I be honest with Nichole, that I was having a bad mental health day and I didn’t want to be rude but I was probably going to need some space while she was here. And as hard as it was to do, that’s what I did. And she completely understood. And when she got here, after a little while, I actually started to feel better. By the end of the evening we were laughing and having fun like usual.

Friday morning I woke up feeling more like myself. Not 100%, but I was able to actually get work done all day, which felt so satisfying after so long.

Saturday, I enjoyed the day off, guilt-free, and yesterday I actually left the house and saw a friend.

Which brings us to today, Monday. I feel happy today. And I feel grateful.

I feel grateful for the people around me. For each of my friends who helped me these last few weeks - whether they know it or not. For my friend Jensen who was my safe space when I deeply needed one. For Nichole being so understanding on my lowest day. For YOU and the rest of this community for giving me space to step away a bit.

I know this isn’t the end of the story. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last.

I don’t share this story today in search of sympathy.

I share this story in case you too are struggling. I want you to know you’re not alone. I see you.

Take care of each other. Check in with your people. Find your circle that can be a safe space for you. Support policies that promote better access to mental health care. Go for a walk. Drink some water. Have a good cry.

It’s okay to not be okay. Have grace with yourself. Reach out when you need it.

All my love,

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop

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