Spending years of your life in a career you don't enjoy but not being able to figure out how to make a change or indeed even knowing what the right career is can create a lot of stress. This caused me personally to spend large chunks of my life dealing with bouts of depression/frustration - I could never quite distinguish between the two. Frustration leading to anger which in turn led to feeling pretty low about things.
I was desperate to find something that I actually enjoyed and that had some sort of meaningful purpose.
I realise that some could perceive this as being fairly trivial thing - that I should just grow up, be a man etc (advice various people gave me) but ultimately if your problems are real to you - then they're real. Regardless of whether there is an official medical diagnosis. They were real enough to cause various stress-related physical pain over the years ranging from heart burn, insomnia, deafness, jaw pain, teeth pain and many more.
I thought I would share my own experiences of this in case it may they be of value to someone else. Things I did to facilitate change and the coping mechanisms I developed to manage stress/anxiety. Things that I've realised I still need to do every day to feel ok - even though I've now resolved the career problem.
Of course cold water and swimming play a big part in being ok but along the way I picked up a few other habits which have helped.
This isn't scientific advice and anyone who is really feeling low should find someone to talk to - I'm lucky that I have an understanding partner who puts up with all my moaning/introspection.
While never suffering from clinical depression - I could always get out of bed - equally I could sulk for days about my lot in life and wonder what the point was of doing anything.
From the outside I still probably looked like everything was fine, I like to think I'm a relaxed guy - funny even (on occasion) but internally in terms of work/what I wanted from life I was a mess. There wasn't a day went by when I wasn't down about my job - it's quite hard to switch off from it when you have to go there 40 hours a week.
To be clear I had what would be considered a good job - so I'm aware that I'm writing this from a position of relative privilege and although I'm not from a particularly wealthy family - quite the opposite in fact, I do have parents who always support me and told me that anything was possible. I had a good education and Linda and I both bought houses at a relatively good time - in order for us to later use this money towards the business.
However, depression/anxiety/frustration doesn't really care about any of that I've realised from my own experience. Our own personal problems are very real to us even if to others they may seem trivial as I mentioned above.
My lowest point was definitely just after our daughter was born which although was amazing - I felt more and more and pressure to be the kind of parent that our daughter could look up to. Rightly or wrongly I felt a big part of that was having a parent who loved their job - who was doing something meaningful. A parent who was willing to take risks to find that job - not one who was simply going through the motions each day to take a pay cheque. (There's nothing wrong with this by the way - happiness is a very personal thing. I just personally wanted more).
It was during this period (probably not helped by many sleepless nights and the stress of being a first-time parent) that for the first time in my life I could relate to people who have committed suicide. When the voices in your head about what a loser you are won't go away and are endlessly nagging at you - you start to consider anything that will make them stop.
My mental health has been improving steadily over the last 6 or 7 years or so. Mostly since I decided to try and sort myself out and put some systems in place to help - once an engineer always an engineer.
I feel lucky that I had systems/coping mechanisms in place pre-pandemic as it's helped a lot over the last 12 months particularly. We love running the business and feel like we've both finally found our passion but there are lots of downs for all the ups at the best of times and the last year just amplified that massively.
We launched officially just 2 weeks before lockdown, our dog went blind 2 weeks after lockdown, we had a baby a month or so after that and home-schooled our daughter for the best part of 9 months and I lost my Grandma - most likely from Covid.
In terms of managing my own mental health it’s definitely something I need to work on daily and especially so after the last 12 months.