As a Life Coach who specialises in mental health, I often refer to my clients fondly as the ‘successfully depressed. They are people who have invested time, effort, and money into building successful careers and businesses. They are entrepreneurs, business owners, academics, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and the list goes on. The one thing the majority of my clients have in common is they have been or are challenged by their mental health, whether stress, anxiety, or depression. Having worked with these clients for a few years now, I have identified seven wishes the majority of them will make, some wishing for one or two, others keen to make the whole list come true. In this article, I’ll explore each of the seven outcomes a client is looking for as well as the challenges leading them to want to achieve them. In a future article, I’ll attempt to provide tools and techniques you can utilise which may mean you do not need to seek the support of a coach. As someone who identifies as ‘successfully depressed’ I’ll use the term ‘we’ throughout the article.
Have your mind work with you rather than against you
Clients will often share they feel their mind has begun to work against them. For so long we have been determined and focused on achieving specific set goals and now find ourselves well on their way to achieving them, or have achieved them, we do not feel the sense of reward and recognition we expected. While we can ‘see’ our success in the career we have, our house, our family, our holidays, etc. We do not feel the emotional reward we expected, often because we were seeking these things to create happiness where other areas should have been focused on to achieve this. Leaving us feeling a lack of direction, a loss of motivation, and increased procrastination. No longer sure of what our goals are but believe we need to set higher and more grandiose targets. Or not knowing how to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves with a loss of determination. All the while asking ourselves one of the deepest and darkest questions…
What’s this all for?
Create a stable mindset and feel less impacted by ups and downs
No different to the majority of us, something a client might have experienced throughout their life and career are ups and downs. These will impact us all in different ways but for those experiencing anxiety and depression, the impacts of these can, if left untreated, be debilitating – this leaves us asking, why are they now seeking to mitigate the impact of the highs and lows when they have experienced them throughout life? Because the highs are higher and lows are lower. When you have built a successful life and career, it feels like you have so much further to fall. As we continue to strive to ever-increasing success, the highs we are aiming for can seem so extreme in comparison to what we were working towards when we first started, and this can prove overwhelming. We all want to achieve balance and equilibrium on which we live, where we have a healthy relationship with the highs and an equally healthy relationship with the lows. Achieving the state of Icarus, flying just above the water and just below the sun. More on Icarus and why better is enough, in this article:
Manage times of change and uncertainty with confidence, and resilience
When the ups and downs strike and life begins to seem uncertain what we need is to be able to be confident in taking action and quickly, it also requires resilience to first get back up before boldly stepping forward. When we feel we have so far to fall, it can often be a very uncomfortable landing and having achieved success up to this point; failure can seem like a very new and uncomfortable bedfellow. It can be challenging to get back up as we often measure ourselves against all the work we have done up to this point and feel disgruntled and begrudging of this recent failure. We will often catastrophise and be unable to see beyond these recent challenges and therefore fear there is no way out. If we can identify a way out we may question why we even want it.
Why can’t we settle for what we have?
If we do find our resilience and choose to move on, we can suddenly begin to lack confidence in our abilities and begin to compare ourselves to others around fearing we are falling short.
Switch off from your business and engage with your personal life, without begrudging it or feeling guilty
More people than we imagine are workaholics and assign success solely to being that which they are achieving at work or in their business. Therefore, taking time out to focus on something else, such as your home life, can leave you fearing you should or would rather be working on your business. It can be a hard admission to make, but many successful people feel like they are ‘better’ at their job than they are at being a partner or a parent. Often home life is outside their comfort zone and stretches them uncomfortably so. While we know we should want to spend time with our partners, our family, and our friends, we often feel we are doing so at the detriment of our success. Add to this one of the things we would most like to talk about is work, and others wither seem disinterest or don’t seem to understand. Leaving us having conversations feel empty and pointless.
Many weekends end with us feeling guilty for taking time out and feeling guilty for feeling guilty for taking time out. It’s a cycle that can prove difficult to escape.
Feel engaged with the world around you, building and maintaining positive relationships
Many of the previous ‘symptoms’ I have mentioned can leave us disconnecting from the world around us and faking it with those with whom we should most be ourselves. Particularly if we are experiencing anxiety or depression, which can cause us to start to build walls between us and others. I often describe these walls as glass, where we can see the people on the other side, we can’t seem to connect with them – this will often leave us questioning why we can manage our career relationships but fail to be able to manage our home relationships. Something else I experience personally but have discovered in some of my clients is not putting a high value on friendships and much preferring my own company; this, for a long time, left me feeling like there was something wrong with me, whereas now I see it as my natural introversion. I and many others crave meaningful relationships, and this may mean having smaller, more in-depth social networks.
Find your mission, commit to it and make it happen
Mission and purpose are becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people seeking their ‘why’. No longer are we able to keep working to make money and buy possessions, we are rightly seeking to make a difference, and this is often beyond ourselves and impacting the lives of others. We want to see the work we are doing is for the greater good and want to connect to the outputs of our work more readily. While, in the past, we might have achieved this objective through charity work, faith, involvement in our wider community, we are now less connected to those around us, specifically in a physical sense. At the same time, we are now more connected digitally, and therefore, globally, than we have ever been. We now have more of an opportunity to create and measure the impact we are making and we primarily want to do this through our work. One business network I am part of focuses on supporting entrepreneurs to align their business goals to one or more of The Global Goal, details of which are found here: https://www.globalgoals.org/
Overcome your stress, anxiety, and depression; and build a better life
As I specialise in mental health, one of the primary goals a client working with me is aiming towards is to overcome their stress, anxiety, or depression. While I do not think we can ‘cure’ these, I do think we can build mental wellbeing will prevent us from experiencing them again. As clients review their life in its entirety, they will often see the impact their mental health has had on them throughout their life and how these might have informed the decisions they have made, both good and bad. Often the ‘successfully depressed’ will have built their career or business as a way to self-medicate their depression, increasing the dose of success regular enough to keep the illness at bay, with the promise of better things to come.
It is arriving at a level of success and reflecting upon it; we can come to the realisation it wasn’t what it promised us it would be and more work is required – this is work of a very different kind but the most rewarding.
If you’re keen to know if you’re ‘successfully depressed’ you can read my article on seven signs you’re ‘successfully depressed’.