This is going to be the most personal post I’ve written in a long time. In fact I feel nervous about hitting the ‘publish’ button, but it’s a really important subject so here goes.
One of the hardest parts about working from home as a self-employed person is dealing with the self-doubt. When things don’t go to plan it’s the easiest thing in the world to take it all to heart and decide that it’s all your own fault. The reason you’re not successful is because frankly, you’re not good enough.
It goes without saying that this mindset is only going to make your life harder. Much harder.
So a while ago now I decided to do something about my own mindset. I suspected that if I learned some simple techniques I could get myself out of these patches of self-doubt much faster. I looked around for an online cognitive behavioural therapy course (CBT) because people I know have recommended CBT. The fact it’s therapy rather than personal development might sound extreme, but I’ve done lots of personal development in the past and although it’s made a little difference, lasting change has been harder to come by.
A quick Google search led me to Living Life To The Full (not an affiliate link), a free online CBT course which was written by a psychiatrist. A couple of minutes later I knew I’d found what I was looking for, because it had very simple techniques for getting you out of that vicious downward spiral that sucks away your energy and confidence.
As part of the course I took a test to check how I was feeling. The idea is that you do this every week and you can see your mood improve as you work through the course. So I clicked all the checkboxes on the test, hit the submit button and….found out I had ‘mild to moderate depression’.
I know mums who have had postnatal depression and the way I felt was nothing like as bad as that. I’d always thought of depression as something that meant you couldn’t face getting up in the mornings and needed medication. Of course this wasn’t a medical diagnosis, so there was some room for error here and it had been a particularly bad week when I took the test.
Even so, I was shocked by it because I was functioning pretty well. I was getting the cooking and laundry done, I was playing with my kids, and I was even blogging fairly normally. 🙂 I definitely wasn’t stuck at home hiding under my duvet.
After the shock I actually felt a sense of relief. You see, I’d assumed I was just a miserable cow. Now there was hope that I could actually do something about it. 🙂
The signs were all there once I wanted to see them. There were times when I found it hard to go out and talk to people, I didn’t smile much, and I was irritable and tired all the time. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually had fun or even a good belly laugh. My weight was slowly creeping up because the few pleasures I’d allowed myself were cake and chocolate, anf that only made me feel worse.
The reason why I’m writing about all this is because I know there are many mums out there who are feeling just the same. Especially mums who work from home. And maybe, like me you haven’t even noticed it happening to you.
Becoming a mum to young children in our society can be an isolating experience. It’s hard to keep up the things that used to make you feel good like going out with friends (without a child in tow), hobbies, keeping fit or even just holding down a mentally stimulating job. When we start out own little businesses from home it can get even worse because we have even less time, the failure rate for business is high and we’re so damned tired all the time.
I’m willing to bet that many mumpreneurs are suffering from mild depression. Several business mums have told me they go in cycles of feeling positive and productive for a few weeks, then spend the next few weeks feeling lethargic and lacking confidence and motivation. I’ll be honest, that had been my pattern for a few years too. Not only does it chip away at your confidence and make you miserable, it also makes you a lot less productive.
So if you’re thinking “but I haven’t got time to keep fit, go out with the girls or have a hobby” (and yes, that was me), then just think of how much time you waste on Facebook because you haven’t got the energy or motivation to do anything else.
Change is not easy because changing habits never is. I still working through the Living Life To The Full workbooks when I feel a downward spiral coming on. I make a point of patting myself on the back when I achieve something, however small it may be, I try harder to get out in the fresh air and I make sure I give myself little treats and rewards regularly. And these days I try to treat myself with lipsticks and books rather than cakes and chocolate!
So as thing get really busy on the run up to Christmas (argh, I said the ‘C’ word!) don’t forget about you. As mums, we’re the centre of our families. Happy mum, happy family.