At this point, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Time by Ben Folds.
The melancholy in his voice always calls to the melancholy in me.
And then there’s the point just before he launches into the chorus one last time.
The notes of the melody are a bit too staccato, distorting it all through a looking glass it doesn’t want to go through.
I know that feeling, too.
The song devolves into a glorious mess. There’s some kind of hope there I can’t put words to. But if you listen closely, it’s there. It’s the answer to the song.
By the time I find myself in this song, any tears I’ve shed are dry. People seem less painful. And I’m not hiding quite as much.
The depression is lifting, and I’m starting to breathe.
But here’s the thing, unlike Ben Folds, I don’t have time.
I work in social media. People have questions they want answers to now.
There are posts that can’t be colored by the darks and the grays.
Clients need to see you smile like you have everything under control.
And there are a million scary scenarios running through my head of how everything is going to fall apart right now.
By no means do I have the answers to it all. I just know what it’s like to be in depressive mode.
Whether it’s minor or major, it’s scary.
With the holidays upon us, the world may be extremely scary for many right now.
So, how do I deal?
Not perfectly, but maybe there’s something here that will make the world a little less scary.
Hang Around Other People
What I do is pretty solitary, and that solitariness can be the enemy.
The more you seclude yourself, the more the voices of doubt can take over.
And the idea of talking to people can sound like a million little pinpricks at once.
But funny enough, there’s a middle ground when you hit this point.
I settle into my seat at Panera Bread and put my earbuds in like I’m listening to music. But I’m not.
I am taking a whole lot of conversations in.
And people talk about so many things when they think no one is listening.
From business gripes to intimately personal details, I regularly eavesdrop a whole host of topics.
Sometimes, I let it take me down a creative path I wasn’t expecting, or I just let it be what it is: a sort of reconnection to the world.
It’s a start, and a building block to something else.
Break It Down into Steps
It’s so easy to focus on all of the ways you suck and aren’t out there saving the world.
The bar is so high when you’re in one of these states that it’s tempting to pull an F. Scott Fitzgerald and never leave your couch.
But maybe look at just taking it one step at a time.
I once had a coach who came to realize the entire process of going to a yoga class was setting the bar too high for me.
For some reason, it induced an anxiety attack.
So we broke it down into what we called “one steps.”
One step was getting up at a certain time and staying awake. That was something my brain could do without anxiety.
The next step was getting ready. But, it wasn’t necessary if I didn’t want to do it.
And next was driving there and then, walking in.
After that, the steps were all the different poses I could choose to do.
By looking at it in steps and giving myself permission to quit at any time, the tasks became doable, whether business or personal.
Lean On Others for Help
As a communications professional, it can be easy to slip into a “do everything yourself” mindset, especially if you’re a perfectionist like I am.
And if you’re solo, it can seem like it’s only you anyway.
But there are ways to lean on others when you’re experiencing a moment where you need to.
The smartest thing you can do is find someone in similar circumstances before you need them.
My buddy, Dave Fluegge, works in the same industry as I do. He performs similar work and is primarily solo.
Despite this, we don’t compete for business. It’s a dream situation. I found a person who understands everything I’m going through.
And therefore, I can get amazing, quality advice on work subjects (and vice versa, I think). He’s great at giving me perspective when I get too far into my head.
(Don’t tell him this, but Dave is my company’s most invaluable resource.)
So, how do you find your Dave?
A great place is the Spin Sucks Community on Slack.
There, you can find other communications professionals from various industries and in various situations. It’s very likely you’ll find the perfect person for you within this group.
Another place is Facebook industry groups.
The tourism industry has a Facebook group dedicated to those who work in social media, and many of those members have become like family. I’ve been on the phone (dark ages, amirite?), chats, and sent many, many messages to people who’ve needed help in some way.
And thanks to this, I have a whole network of people willing to help me when Dave *gasp* goes on vacation.
Basically, you need to get out there and be helpful now. Eventually, that help will result in finding your perfect person to lean on when you need them.
Anxiety and Depression: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Vulnerable
Chances are you can take what you’re feeling and use it in a positive or uplifting way.
Maybe you can write a blog post on how you deal with episodes of depression, and that might propel you into writing other blog posts.
Maybe it’s posting on Facebook and saying, “This is what I’m feeling right now,” so you can hear others say, “Me too.” There is something comforting about realizing you’re not the only one dealing with this.
Or maybe you have client work which could benefit from a dose of feelings (though, I’d recommend re-reading that work when you’re in a better frame of mind, before presenting to a client).
Know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
But in the meantime, it’s okay to figure out how these feelings may be useful as your own personal superpower.
So how do you handle your anxiety or depression when dealing with work and the holidays?
Please share your story and maybe you’ll help someone else at the same time.