Did you know that one in four women is on some kind of anti-depressant medication? To me that’s a major red flag about women’s mental health in this country.
I believe most women have struggled with anxiety and depression at some point in her life. I certainly did when I was living in New York. I was in a job where I felt very stuck. I was living paycheck to paycheck trying to keep up. I wasn’t sleeping and like many other sleep-desperate insomniacs would resort to sleeping pills. They left me feeling groggy and hung over.
Many nights I was up until 5am, then I would get up at 7am to run.
I look back at the girl that I was and I feel sad. I feel sad that so many other women suffer from anxiety and depression–two sides of the same coin.
Anxiety and depression result from a feeling of hopelessness. I didn’t have any mentors, let alone female mentors. I didn’t know where to go for career advice, finance advice, life direction advice or guy advice.
The medication helped for a little while, but the medication wasn’t what eventually helped me heal from what I was really running from.
Medication does not help you find the direction you seek in your life. Medication can’t tell you you’re on the wrong career path. Medication can’t help you build up better self esteem.
I’ve been off medication for a few years now and through a lot of soul searching, some great teachers and wonderful mentors, I’m back on a clear path I feel very good about. I no longer lose sleep.
For so many of you out there that suffer in silence, I would encourage you to ask for help. Feelings of depression can stop people from asking for help, but I want women to feel ok about asking. I want women to feel ok about admitting they’re scared, they don’t have the answers, or they need more emotional support than they’re getting.
Here are some of the things I encourage you to do if you are experiencing anxiety and depression, and you’d like to get help:
1. Find a good therapist, even if you can’t currently afford it. Ladies we spend a lot of money on our nails, our hair, our clothes and our gym membership. Having strong mental health is more important than any of these services. I would strongly encourage you to find a therapist by looking at reviews online, or even asking for a recommendation from a friend. It’s very important to have someone to unload on each week that isn’t your mom.
2. Find a career coach. When I wanted to leave my job I had no clue about how I would ever transfer my skill set into another career. I wish I had sought support rather than just keep myself busy so I didn’t have to think about it. If you can’t find a career coach, set up a dozen phone calls with women who you think are interesting, and are in roles that you would want to be in. Find out how they got there. This will help you feel much better and give you some strong ideas on how to move forward in your own career.
3. Watch who you spend your time with, how much you shop, and how much you drink. For some reason in New York City getting wasted every night isn’t considered being an alcoholic. It’s a very social city, there’s a fine line between social drinking and abuse. When you’re feeling lost, taking time for yourself can mean the world to your recovery and growth. Rather than spending time out drinking, seek out networking events–especially groups of other women who are in a similar demographic to you. You’ll feel much less alone when you see how many other women are in the same boat as you. Find a support group. I used to attend Weight Watchers meetings every week. I enjoyed the support group, and the opportunity to vent in a safe space.
I believe women turn to medication because we take on too much trying to be the perfect girl. We are taught never to complain, and to always keep up appearances. Office politics and culture challenges can leave us feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and hopeless. Whether you’re jobless, stuck in a job you hate, or an entrepreneur trying to find her footing–you’re not alone! We all experience feelings of anxiety and sadness time to time–but when it’s crippling your ability to thrive, you might want to stop and evaluate what’s happening.
And I’m here for you.