Friday, 8 February 2013

The less sunny side

The hardest part of being self employed and running my own business, for me, is not the lack of, and subsequent search for, time, money, knowledge or customers but the 'something' within my self which makes me prone to bouts of depression.

Much is written about the subject, and many people suffer with depression at some point, so I will just write briefly about how it affects me and my attempts to be a self employed cut flower grower.

It's been a long term problem for me, although I wasn't aware of it's existence until just a few years ago. I always assumed all my negative thoughts and feelings and my deep, dark moods were who I was, part of my personality. I wish I had been more aware, or that someone had picked up on my problems - especially with postnatal depression - because I can see now that the illness has cost me a great deal in terms of relationships with friends and family and my own ability to enjoy life. But it has always been a family trait to keep one's thoughts and feelings locked away, so that's what I did.

In the past, work has been my saviour. Working in retail, in a close team, in busy shops, it's been a relief to put on my happy face and be a confident cheerful person for the duration of the shift. Lots of friendly social interaction and feeling wanted/liked/useful is a real boost. Returning to work after a long time off being a stay at home mum was unbelievably good for me. I suppose that's why I always enjoyed that type of work, a temporary respite from what I was struggling with deeper down.

So working on my own for the past two years has been difficult. Its fantastic to be outside in a wide open space, listening to birds, feeling the breeze, doing something I really enjoy - on a good day. Horticulture has great theraputic benefit: we are supposed to be the happiest group of workers. On a bad day, however, the solitude and enforced conversation with myself just magnifies all problems, worries and insecurities to unreasonable proportions.

The depression affects my business when it tells me I can't do things, when it removes any confidence I have in myself, when it fills me with doubts and the feeling that I'll never do well or be any better than I am now - so why bother trying. At the end of some days I'm filled with ideas and get-up-and-go but in the cold light of the morning after, it's another story. I'll procrastinate, dither or simply give up the idea, feeling stupid for ever thinking I could succeed at anything.

I don't know what the solution is, if there is one. At least I'm more aware of the situation now, I can distance myself from the thoughts and feelings sometimes, look down on myself and see that it's just the depression talking and it will pass soon enough.

And I feel better for longer lately, this winter has been a breeze compared to ones in the past. There are a lot of triggers around Christmas and New Year and into January and February. Talking is good but it's hard to start the conversation, and I don't know many people I would trust or feel comfortable talking to. I do like talking and being with people - going back to my 'other self' of sociable shop girl! I'm glad that my new plot of land is going to bring me into regular contact with other people. I miss having some banter, and it's always good to get other perspectives on situations which would otherwise leave me chuntering away to myself.

I must keep in mind there are brighter days ahead, literally and figuratively. A little success and encouraging progress in flower farming will give a great supportive push from behind. Of course there'll always be darker days, everyone has them, but I do hope I'm going to have fewer.


  1. I suffer from depression too and have spent 15 years in catering as I also find being around people & having to smile hugely helpful. I don't run my own business but I have heard/read that Doubt is a constant when you do, regardless of whether you suffer from depression or not. Turn the Doubt companion on it's head & prove to Doubt & your self that you can do it when it's trying to make you think you can't.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment Charis, I will keep that in mind.
      Best wishes to you too :)

  2. Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know that other people have similar issues sometimes. Xx