This article is about my learnings from my ex: Depression. It was a pretty long relationship but now we have finally broken up(or atleast I suppose). I was diagnosed with a year ago and have been getting treated for the same. Dysthymia is a chronic and persistent state of helplessness and inability to do the things you like the most. I want to be an entrepreneur some day. These are the things that depression taught me which I believe will help me in my entrepreneurial journey in the future.
Lesson 1: To rise after each miserable failure.
I could never get a grip of the prominence of those stories we have come across since our childhood like the story of Edison’s 1000 failed attempt at finding the correct material for the filament or about J.K Rowling and how her story was rejected by 12 publication houses before becoming the most loved Harry Potter series.
I understood it only after experiencing it myself, the difficulty in getting up after each lapse, to be normal after each and every break down. The thing that hurts the most is that you sort of feel afraid of becoming normal because you know that you will collapse soon, so it is soothing to never rise.But you need to stand up because…
Lesson 2: Quitting is not an option.
Going into depression and coming out of it has taught me that quitting is not an option.More importantly, there is no reason for anyone to quit. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Things always get better. The difficult times are only a passing phase.
Similarly, we all have heard a lot of stories about how many great entrepreneurs have failed in their first venture but did not give up and still tried with either a new idea or after gaining more experience.My relationship with depression has taught me that in my entrepreneurial journey as well, there will be times when things will be difficult and will make me feel that quitting is an easier option, but I know now that it is not an option, there will be better times ahead.
Lesson 3: Importance of self confidence.
To believe in yourself is something easier said than done when odds are against you. But that doesn’t give you the option to escape because “Quitting is not an option”. Your only way out is to believe in yourself. If you don’t trust yourself then no one will. This is the biggest lesson for an ambitious entrepreneur because when you have to sell your ideas, you have to believe in them first.
Lesson 4: Necessity to explain.
Depression is not a “mood issue” and it need not have a cause to onset. It can happen to anyone and at anytime. The problem is that no one understands what depression really is all about and this has led to a number of myths to be associated with it. As a person who has been through this phase, I know that I have to take all the effort to clear the myths around depression so that people change the way they look at anyone suffering from depression.
Similarly the onus is on the entrepreneur to explain his/her idea to the audience and make them understand the greatness of it. If you fail to do that, you will be left with a number of unclear notions about your product or service talked about in the market.
Lesson 5: Importance of taking help from others.
Depression can not be defeated alone. If you think that it can then it is your ignorance and trust me you’re going to put yourself into a big mess. You need both professional help as well as support from family and friends.
In the context of entrepreneurship you need mentoring from people who have been through this process (VCs or senior entrepreneurs) and also you need to take your family and friends support if you think you can do it without anyone’s support then you’re a fool.
Lesson 6: Being comfortable with being an outcast
The word ‘outcast’ might be too harsh of a word for the situation but I think it still needs to be used because at times you really feel like being an outcast because no one can understand you and make sense of what your doing or saying, but you shall pass through this to because you have a small but strong fortress of yours.
Being an entrepreneur will be similar. The typical questions about why don’t you work for a well known company, you work so hard then why don’t you make a lot of money, when will your venture work – will be inevitable. A lot of people will refer to you as a different breed. You have to be sure of yourself and be ready for this phase.
Lesson 7: Not to be too self critical.
During depression you accuse yourself for all the things that are not your fault. This is because you are being too harsh on yourself. This stresses you and eventually drains you even more.
Same thing applies to your idea. You can’t get a perfect idea on the drawing board on day one. You may even not have the answers to all the questions but you still will have to trust your gut and proceed with conviction. Being to self critical of the idea all the time will only make your pace slower.
Lesson 8 :Things shall get better.
At last I want to say only one thing that is, that nothing in this world is constant everything changes and even the bad times do go. Do not be stingy in terms of using quotes, etc…
This is my favourite quote :
(This article is contributed by Arjun Raj. Arjun is currently a student and has successfully battled his phase of Dysthymia )