I was honoured to share my story with the Queensland Times about how running a small business can trigger those deep feelings associated with depression and anxiety. You can read about my dance with depression in the full article here
The Bank of Queensland commissioned a study to see how small business owners handle the task of starting and running a small business. It was surprising to discover that 1 in 10 small business owners experience some degree of depression. This statistic connected with me.
When Abbey was 4 years old, we made a trip to a Melbourne Hospital to obtain her diagnosis after years of guessing and managing without solid direction. The diagnoses was CDKL5 encephalopathy…a gene mutation that causes multiple disabilities and hard-to-control seizures. It is great to have a name for her condition, but has not provided the opportunity for us to streamline her therapies or medical procedures.
We are still guessing what would be the best course of action for her. That is hard to manage as a parent, emotionally and mentally.
After this Melbourne trip I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Why? The hospital visit was quite traumatic as it included seeing my girl in a worse condition than I ever had before and my own inabilities to care for her as I developed food poisoning on arrival. It left me in a place of despair and helplessness. After a few months of gradually withdrawing from our community and my family, not finding fun in anything I use to, and not coping well with basic day to day tasks, it was time to find help.
Help came in the form of a counsellor, psychologist and family. Coping strategies and questioning my own assumptions helped me move forward. After a year with this assistance I took a big leap and started my own small business to see if we could provide a financial future for Abbey.
Caring for Abbey is going to be a long road and we don’t want to miss out on the adventures other families can so easily engage with. And this is how Apikali was born.
Apikali means Abigail in Polynesian and everyday I go to work it provides a reminder why I am here and what my goals are.
Starting any small business there are challenges. From having to learn so many new skills from marketing, PR and customer service. The first year was easy. It was exciting. The second and third years it became messier as I tried to take on too many roles and please so many people.
My dance with depression went up a tempo as I managed a business, a family and my girl.
Thankfully I had the coping strategies I could call on and I knew what my triggers were. I could manage for a time, but found I had to go back to my psychologist to touch base and obtain a firmer grip on my thought processes.
At this time I reached out for more support within the business, welcoming Trudy and Sally to our Apikali Family.
Now we are 5 years into our Apikali adventure and we made another dramatic change to accomodate my mental health and the care that Abbey needs. We have down sized the scale of our operation. Of course we have done all of this in consultation with our community, our business coach and looking at our finances.
Its empowering having the courage to lead the dance with depression. Its also very frustrating that I need to manage it. And when these thoughts arise, I know its time to employ my strategies, call on my support team and to choose another tune to dance too.