We’ve talked about what depression is, some signs and some treatment options. Now let’s look at the spiritual aspect, along with its interaction with running a business.
Is It Sinful?
I’d like to speak to the church-going / religious / spiritual crowd for a minute. Do you believe depression is a sin? A lot of people do. This article written by Bruce Hennigan, a Christian doctor, emphatically says “NO!” Depression is not a sin. He says, “well-meaning Christians who don’t understand depression (say) things like: “You just need to have more faith,” or “There must be sin in your life, or you wouldn’t feel like this,” or even “If you’d pray harder (read the Bible more, have a deeper walk with the Lord), you wouldn’t have this problem.” To someone who already feels guilty about everything, this just piles on even more guilt.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have heard those admonishments. They usually came from someone who loved God deeply, wanted to see everyone succeed, and had no training in diagnosing mental illness.
A Surprise Take
Dr. Hennigan goes on to say that depression, in and of itself, is not a sin – and neither is alcoholism.
Pausing… .because I know the hair on the back of your neck just stood straight up. Hold on and follow the logic.
The doctor says, “The tendency toward depression or alcoholism is not a sin; giving in to them, however, is a sin. The alcoholic will probably get drunk when he drinks, so the Christian who is an alcoholic and wants to stay in God’s will must make sure he never takes another drink. Likewise, the person who has a tendency toward depression isn’t at fault if his or her emotions begin a downward spiral. However, how he/she responds to that downward spiral will determine if there is sin.”
To apply this to the business owner, you must first be aware of your tendencies. If you have never been diagnosed with depression but suspect you might have it (or see some of the warning signs), getting diagnosed is the first and most critical step. If you have a diagnosis in place, you must follow your prescribed plan (therapy, medication, social life adjustments, analysis of your environment, etc.). Going forward, be aware of what triggers you toward that downward spiral so you can mitigate the trigger(s) early on. Adjust your treatment regimen as needed working with your provider(s).
The group of churches my wife and I are a member of has a website that contains a nice series of articles exploring depression and the spiritual realm. It’s some excellent reading.
Let’s March On!
Depression is a very important subject for the entrepreneur navigating the choppy waters of running a new business. By “new,” I mean less than 5 years old. That seems to be the point where the risk of the business completely folding seems to drop significantly. It seems to take that long to develop your products, services, processes, and building of your audience/customer base to the point where things get fairly smooth and you can more easily predict how good or poor business is going to be in the future.
In those first 5 years, though, very little is certain. This can be a detriment to healthy thoughts and emotions. If you were generally happy prior to starting your business, you may experience depression for the first time during a major down period. If you had some depression before starting your business, you may find it returning and/or worsening during those dark periods.
The holidays can be a challenging time for those with depression. Among the temptations are to be extremely depressed, or so over-the-top with holiday cheer it repels “non-holiday” people. At times, I have been on both ends. I feel like I’m in a good happy medium place now, fully engaged and enjoying the holiday season without being too obnoxious. My favorite thing about the Christmas season is that it’s not summer, and thus it’s not 500 degrees outside. My advice to people is just enjoy it – don’t buy into the advertisers’ nonsense about you being required to spend crazy amounts of money keeping up with the Joneses, don’t let the atheist or Grinch in your life destroy a festive spirit, and enjoy the people around you.
Hopefully you have a betternderstanding of depression at this point. It can be quite misunderstood. It’s just a health condition like a cold or sprained ankle. You just have to have a proper diagnosis and good treatment plan, and you can continue to build a great life for yourself and your loved ones.
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