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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Depression – and the lies it tells soloists

One of the worst things depression does to a person is tell them they’re a worthless fraud. Well I’m here to show you how depression lies, and how to fight back.
So there I was, happily driving along the sunshine lit road of life. My new business name was registered, the website was built, business cards were delivered, social media was sorted and I was ready to launch my new coaching business out into the world.
I was confident it was going to be a huge success; after all, I had won a coaching award, I was very clear about my ideal customer, and I knew that I could help people from the numerous client testimonials I had gained over the years.
I was living my passion and my purpose, and the possibilities for me and my new business were limitless.

Then I turned the corner.

And was again plunged into the dark tunnel of depression.  The darkness was utterly complete, as if I were suddenly cut off from the world, all alone in an unfamiliar place. The direction I had been heading in, was lost and there was no GPS signal to help me find my way out.
"You compare yourself to everyone else and you can quickly convince yourself that you should just give up on your dreams because you will never achieve anything. "
The funny thing is, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I find myself in that tunnel, it is always a surprise. There are never any warning signs (or at least none that I see).
Having been on a roller coaster of ups and downs in the last eleven years, it was suggested to me recently that I may have Bipolar Disorder, something which I have now had a formal diagnosis for.  Due to this, I have periods where my energy is greatly increased, I feel supremely confident and am full of brilliant ideas. These creative and slightly manic highs are swiftly followed by very deep and dark lows which seem endless. I go from feeling as though I could change the world, to barely being able to change my clothes.
The worst thing about these low periods of depression? It’s the lies.

Depression says things like:

  • Who do you think you are to believe that you can help other people?
  • How can you help others when you can barely help yourself?
  • You are a fraud and one day soon everyone will find you out.
It’s no use trying to think positively or focus on gratitude, because depression also says:
  • You’ve got no right to feel sad.
  • Think of all the people who are much worse off than you; you should be grateful instead of being lazy.
  • You are so pathetic; everyone would be better off without you.
As a result, you begin to question every skill you believed you had. You compare yourself to everyone else and you can quickly convince yourself that you should just give up on your dreams because you will never achieve anything.
Well I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Here are some of the many things I’ve achieved in business while also battling depression and mental illness.
  • In 2010, I was awarded ‘Best Newcomer Coach of the Year’ by the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Coaching.
  • I successfully carried out workshops on managing stress and reducing anxiety for a local women’s refuge.
  • I was presented with an award for ‘Greatest Contribution’ for a women-in-business mentoring program.
  • I was part of a consultative team within a networking organisation for businesses committed to working with integrity, inclusiveness and equality.
  • I worked with clients both in Australia and internationally to assist them in managing their own lives and businesses. Here are what two of my clients had to say:
“Sharon has an amazing ability to communicate with warmth and sincerity and I particularly  like that she helped me realise I don’t need to be perfect and I can make small changes over time.”
“The best thing about working with Sharon is how open, honest and genuine she is, and how she instills in you a deep sense of trust – the feeling that she truly understands.”

Not bad right?

It’s important to remember depression isn’t rational, it’s not sensible and it does not work with logic. It is paralysis, fear, overwhelm, shame, emptiness, exhaustion and loss: loss of self, loss of purpose and in some cases, loss of life.
Whenever I find myself being pulled down into the abyss, I take time out to reflect on the above achievements and words from my clients.
It’s not a cure – but when depression is lying to me, it really helps.
Do you suffer from depression? Do you have any tools for managing your depression when it’s telling you lies?
If you are feeling sad for more than a few days, are lacking your usual confidence, feel hopeless, unworthy or lost, or you are tempted to self-harm or self-medicate, please take the first step.
Reach out to a trusted family member or friend.
Or call one of the organisations below:
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
  • Mens’ Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78
  • Salvos Care Line – 1300 36 36 22
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
  • In an emergency you can contact your GP or visit your local hospital.

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