Emotional Hangovers: My Own Mental Struggle as a Founder
Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Today is World Mental Health Day. As I am celebrating my 35th birthday next week and soon my company’s public showcase 3 years anniversary next month, I thought it would be the right time to share my own journey. It’s been a roller-coaster ride I must say. It is good to reflect and to resonate with people on various important aspects of our working life: mental health, self-compassion, managing yourself, building your business effectively. I will dive deeper into the emotional hangovers I suffered in this article, and how I got myself “sober”. Next one I will share more of my a-ha moments as an entrepreneur as part of my #entrepreneurthoughts series.
Overwhelming is an understatement when it seems the whole world continuously sabotages your efforts.
We were just about to roll out and in process of getting ready to discuss a big contract in 2019. Mass protests took place on Jun 2nd and the rest became history. Though the downtime did allow for a six-month journey of discovering who I really am, what do I really want, and what do I want to get out of my team. Then I discovered, like most of us, I got imposter syndrome. The constant thought of “I am not good enough” haunted me. When COVID hit in early 2020, piling on more obstacles to my start-up, everything came to a grinding stressful halt. Distracting sales issues were compounded by my getting into and out of a personal relationship, along with domestic troubles.
Back home, my mom was traumatizing the household with her mood swings and erratic behaviour due to her severe hypertension, even before I created my own company. She was hypercritical, verbally, and physically abusive to us all. At one point I went into a peer coaching session with a scratch on my face because we got physical.
It was just so chaotic and hard. How could I run my own start-up with gusto? One week you have a huge fight with your ex-boyfriend and then the next week you have a huge one with your mom. It was just mentally exhausting and emotionally taxing. It came to a point when I just needed a few days away from home. What is it about my mom? What was it about my dad? How do I accept their flaws and all? How do I live with them when even our shelving systems are different?
There I was, running my own start-up with emotional hangovers, caused by the withdrawal effect of getting out of a relationship, plus disappointments when expectations fell short during collaboration and the sales process. The lingering emotional hangover really affects one’s ability to concentrate and focus. I remember after I left my old shop for the first year, there were times when the old memories came and how I had to kill those noises.
The last 3 years have been an intense and compact psychological journey for me. It is not easy, at all when your old connections can no longer help or when your collaborators and suppliers cannot meet your expectation and needs at work; back home you need to deal with difficult parents or someone, who turns out is not the one for you.
Thank goodness, I wasn’t alone through these ordeals. It took me 6 months to recover with support from my clients and candidates who have become my friends and my confidante. A high school friend of mine was a fantastic listener, she 'counselled' me a lot during that period of time, celebrating every small step of progress I made. Of course huge kudos to 24/7 local counselling hotlines. My mum had surgery to reduce her blood pressure. She no longer has the mood swings.
You learn only through acceptance of life then you can deal with disappointments: one starts reframing the incidents and looking at the past through a different lens. I am in a much better state of mind now, realizing the power is in my hands to choose what kind of life I want: if you want to be a happy person, simply go surround yourself with positive energy, and accept the fact that some people, after getting to know them better, are just not the right ones for you.
Life is just like a boat in the river, some will get on your boat and ride with you; some will choose to leave your boat and so are you.
When you truly live in the now, then you can keep things in perspective, and that's when you can achieve a state of zen and move on with whatever obstacles you face.
Life, after all, doesn't have to be difficult all the time.