Pulling Thru Founder’s Depression

Because Quitting was never an Option!

Couple weeks ago, I published “Founders Depression” and was surprised by calls from both people who sent their encouragement and victims of the same issue. It turned out that Founders actually experience Depression in different ways with different triggers such as;

  • No Money. No Funds.
  • Anxiety & Fear
  • Phobia for Application forms & Pitches (VC)
  • Post-Honeymoon Startup Phase
  • Stagnant growth of a start-up

Finding what triggers your Depression as a Founder and Entrepreneur is the first step to enjoying your journey as one especially if this is your life time goal. The alarming part is that African entrepreneurs feel this is not an issue worth recognizing talk less of discussing. As Africans, we believe we can never experience Depression because we have God and enough struggles. What a paradox! Someone said to me;

“Stop disgracing us. What is Depression? Better stop it. Go to church and pray. Have you eaten today? Do you know how many people are suffering from poverty? And you’re complaining of Depression! Wetin be that sef? We don’t do that in Africa!”

Bonkers! Need I mention that this is the problem with our current socio-economic & political state? We tag taboo on everything we don’t understand, even fearing to mention it. Say Depression. Say it out Loud! Yes it’s a word. Not a taboo like the masquerades in your village. It’s a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency, dejection and self doubt which has increased from 0.00050% of the world population in the 1800s to 0.00350% in the 21st century.

Lets face the facts; 1 out of 5 Africans experience depression in their lifetime while an average of 23 deaths per day are suicides caused by Depression. Presently, over averagely 73% of working class Africans are entrepreneurs with 40.7% of this percentage as Women in countries like Zambia & Nigeria. As David Cameron said;

“the rise and fall of Africa relies heavily on its entrepreneurs”.

Countries like Uganda has remodeled it’s curriculum to include Entrepreneurship. We need to talk abut Depression & learn to identify its triggers. In recent years, Nigeria has lost some of its great inspiring young minds to suicides caused by Depressions.

Good news is: You don’t have to be ashamed of depression. The cure for depression begins with you, consciously healing yourself just as you consciously heal yourself of fear and sadness. Recognizing this for myself has helped me get free and this is how I’ve dealt with depression.

  1. You’re Human. Being a founder doesn’t make you God. You can’t achieve all neither does that make you better than your team so learn to share your problems with your team. Studies have shown that companies where the team share a family culture are more successful than companies with hierarchical official protocols. You may have to soften the tone from the top & encourage your team to share anything with each other. Create WhatsApp groups, organisé team building events, share your depression triggers with your team so they can help. When my team heard that I was depressed, they sent me amazind texts that I plan to frame beside my bedside. Those words & care made me feel like Bill Gates.
  2. Kill Routines! It’s the death of creativity & entrepreneur spirit. In my last post, I mentioned how my day goes because it’s a formular. I can memorize everything I do daily from my sleep just like an authorized robot and when distraction occurs, I shudder. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve disrupted this by sometimes waking up at 7am and enjoying it. Or eating an enormous meal I normally won’t eat at a restaurant. Wearing something different or singing in public when I’m alone. This has successfully recharged my emotions and I’ve began to fall in love with new things. Change Things. Distort the usual orientation. Move the furniture around or change your desk at work. Grab another chair and release the one you’ve been using. Instead of typing a message, send voicenotes.
  3. Get out! Your couch/desk is killing you. Whether you’re an introvert or not, you need to leave your place of comfort and try something else for awhile. Take a walk to the bridge and sit there. Take your laptop or book/ipad to a cafe, order a drink and read/write for hours before leaving. Attend a different conference, talk to new people, pay for a boat ride or take several buses to different places without the aim of going anywhere.
  4. More so, create a conscious lifestyle to move away from depression triggers. Eat fruits when you remember. Buy drugs that can give you vitamins, omega and nutrients. Take up a sport and stay true to it at every point in time. It could be Running, Walking, Swimming, Yoga, Badmintton, Tennis, Football, Golf etc. Drinks gallons of water and think happy thoughts. Learn meditation and introduce Yoga to the workplace. Not only is it a cure for depression, its a recipe for highly successful teams.
  5. For God’s sake! Ditch the suffering competitive syndrome. Africans tend to have a “who suffered most/best syndrome”. We feel the need to show how much more we suffer. For example if you said “I feel headache and haven’t eaten since morning” The next person would announce “Yours is better. I’ve not eaten for a week and I’m having malaria!”. From there, everyone starts arguing who suffered more. Oh boy! How do you even feel grand in declaring such irresponsibility? Maybe that’s why our leaders always make it a habit to steal more… You know “Ehy! You stole $5M? WoW! Wait! I can steal 100x more!”. Stop it! If someone walks up to you with such attitude, sit them down & teach them responsibility!

Depression has no home with me bacause coupled with my Drama Queenship, praticing & teaching Yoga, a regular smoothie lifestyle, an informal team structure, founding an organisation I’m passionate about & my quest for social & creative habits; I am living a lifestyle that promotes Health, Relationships & Communual Impact. You know I can’t end this without saying God! Haha… Being African is Awesome!

I would always be this EXTRA. It’s my Lifestyle!

Hello! Thank you for reading my Founder’s Depression series. I hope you identify your triggers & find a way to pull thru! I am interested in PR & Compliance issues, Healthy Entrepreneurs & African Brands so feel free to talk to me. Are you interested in Yoga? Visit my Yoga Tribe & ask for Classes. Interested in African Brands or do you own one? Visit us at ISOKO AFRICA or visit the website www.isokoafrica.com to find out more. You can also listen to our podcasts on iTunes, Soundcloud or our website.

Love & Light.
Tope Hassan