It’s easy to attribute the struggles we have between our ears to various external factors but at the end of the day, it is we who should take full responsibility for our own mental health. Kim Sutton knows this from her personal experience of having to struggle as a mother and entrepreneur at the same time. In the age of social media, it is very easy to fall victim to the comparison trap, subject ourselves to unattainable standards of success, and suffer mentally as a result. In what ways are you struggling with mental health as an entrepreneur? More importantly, what are you doing to address them? If you aren’t already, it’s high time you should.
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Why You Need To Take Responsibility For Your Own Mental Health
We’ve been talking about emotional and spiritual wellness. In episode 702, we talked to Christy Whitman about how to get what you want in life and business. In episode 701, we talked with my friend Marc Stern about the difference between listening and hearing. In this episode, I’m going to go deep and vulnerable with you and talk to you about how we need to take responsibility for our mental health. In the very early days of the show, episode 5 as a matter of fact, I shared my story of sleep deprivation and what it’s done to me over the years.
If you haven’t read that episode or if you haven’t heard the story, in 2008, I experienced my first bout of sleep deprivation and wound up in the mental hospital for six days. Let me tell you, I had this experience for years. I was so embarrassed about the possible stigma attached to being in the mental hospital and I didn’t want to share the story with anybody for fear that I would be judged. People would think I was crazy. Maybe a client wouldn’t want to hire me because I might be insane.
As I’ve talked to more people about mental health, I’ve realized that stays in the mental hospital are more common than you might imagine. It’s not something that I should be embarrassed about. It’s an experience that I should be sharing so that you, my community, my friends, family and loved ones can avoid the circumstances themselves by taking proper care of themselves. That was my first experience back in 2008.
In 2016, I had my first and most serious bout of anxiety and depression following a 16 to 18-month period where I was only sleeping 2 to 3 hours a night. My twins were born in January 2015 and while a lot of people who know this may assume that it’s because I was a sleep-deprived mama, this is not the case. My husband is an amazing dad and he’s an amazing husband. He would get up 4 to 5 times. I would have to say more times during the night than I would. Using him as an excuse for my sleep deprivation then is not at all accurate.
What is more accurate is that I was looking at what so many other people were doing on social, or what they were declaring, pretending and wanting the world to think that they were doing, and measuring my success against theirs. This was entirely unfair to me. I’m not saying that it’s unfair because they did anything. I’m saying it’s unfair because I shouldn’t have put expectations on myself based upon what I saw people were doing on social media. Social media only shows us what the people who post want us to see. If we judge ourselves based upon what we see there, we’re setting unreasonably high expectations for ourselves. In my case, it led to me pushing myself to work around the clock, seven days a week.
By June or July 2016, I was so sleep-deprived that I was facing major anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, which is a trigger warning for you. I did not act on those thoughts. If you are having any such thoughts today, I want to encourage you to please reach out to someone who cares or somebody you know who will listen. I’m going to be so bold here to provide you with my email address so that if you need somebody that you can shoot a message to and you don’t feel safe sharing it with anybody else, you can message me. My email is Kim@TheKimSutton.com. Please send me an email and let’s talk through whatever struggles you are experiencing right now.
I am not a therapist, a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I am just somebody who cares and knows that taking action in our lives is not the option. What we need to do though is take responsibility for our mental health. This is where it gets vulnerable. My husband, who you know I love dearly, struggles from PTSD. He is a disabled veteran and sometimes he can be verbally and mentally rough on himself, and that sometimes spills out to the people around him.
I want you to know that I am safe. I am physically safe. My children are safe and my husband is safe. However, when my husband is having one of his dark days, I found that those days could deeply impact me as well. Finally, I realized I needed to find a therapist. While I have frustrations with my husband and he wants me to talk to him about those frustrations, there are times that it would only cause major arguments, and I don’t want that to happen. I wanted to come up with coping mechanisms so that I’m not living in a constant state of worry inside my house for expressing how I feel. I hired a therapist. That therapist has helped me to start seeing things with more perspective and approach my husband in ways that may be less confrontational, less accusatory and may seem less hostile to him.
Along with hiring a therapist, I’ve also been more diligent about my journaling. If you’re not quite comfortable journaling, either because you’re afraid of putting your thoughts down on paper or you don’t trust the people around you to not read your journal, I get it. My first husband went through my journal behind my back all the time, and that is something that you should not allow to happen. If you don’t feel like you can have a paper journal where you write with pen and paper, I want to encourage you to perhaps try a locked online document. I know this might seem scary as well. My husband refuses to because he’s convinced that his deepest thoughts that he puts down in an electronic document will somehow be leaked out. He’s a conspiracy theorist. He’s convinced that Big Brother will be reading and all of his thoughts will get out.
From my experience, allowing my thoughts out of my head and getting them onto paper has been incredibly therapeutic for me. I rage onto paper sometimes and it allows me to sleep in peace. The next morning, I have more control over my thoughts, actions, goals, focus and everything. When you’re taking responsibility for your mental health, I do want to put one caveat in there. If you hire a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist, you don’t need to stick with that person just because you’ve hired them. I have had bad therapists. I’ve had a bad psychiatrist. We have to know when is the time to let go and keep moving forward with our search for a better doctor and better therapist. I hate to say it, but even sometimes to a better significant other or no significant other at all.
I am not looking to leave my husband. I just want to put it out there, but there are times when we had to be ready, willing and able to cut the cord with people who are not the best for our emotional state. This can be parents, siblings, friends, significant others, and as much as I hate to say it, sometimes it might be our kids. Toxic people will bring our lives down and we have to take care of our mental state and address the problem. I should have thrown clients in there too. We have to be willing to cut the cord with clients no matter what they’re paying us. I’ve had a client from hell and even if they had paid me $1 billion, it wasn’t worth the toxicity anymore.
Take responsibility for your mental health. You deserve to be happy, healthy and whole. If your brain is being overcome with thoughts about anxiety, depression, stress and the toxicity of others, you’re not going to find the peace and prosperity that you’re looking for. I would love to hear what you have thought about this episode. Please take a moment to head on over to TheKimSutton.com/pp703 and let me know your thoughts. Our next episode will be Pause, Breathe, Choose with Naz Beheshti, so be sure to check in. I hope you go forth and make it a positive and productive day.