I remember the first time I experienced a depressive episode. It was October 2008; we had just experienced the financial meltdown of the stock markets, the Canadian dollar started to plummet versus the US dollar, banks slashed our Line of Credit, and I felt utterly helpless. My business partner and I were forced to make a series of rapid-fire decisions, where the future of our business hung in the balance. I struggled to get out of bed each morning, my mind was foggy, and I didn’t have the energy to do anything. We had a business to run and families that depended on us. My partner told me I needed to be stoic, for leadership is the barometer for the company. I recall wanting to lock myself in my office. I had to suppress all these feelings of fear and panic. At the time, I had no idea that I was experiencing anxiety with a heaping helping of depression. This is a reminder that we can all feel overwhelmed at times, but if one or more of these symptoms occur, be mindful to listen to your body and mind that there may be more than you acknowledge.
Not Sleeping or Oversleeping
It was 2 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep again. I had been tossing and turning for hours, my mind racing with anxious thoughts. I had no problem initially falling asleep. My problem was staying asleep. I was exhausted, but every time I closed my eyes, I felt like I was suffocating. As the minutes ticked by, my anxiety turned to despair. I felt trapped in a dark tunnel with no way out. I was constantly flipping over, trying to find the cool side of the pillow. Finally, around 4 a.m., I fell into a fitful sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely get out of bed. I dragged myself through the day, my body feeling like it weighed a ton. This wasn’t the first time this had happened – for the past few weeks, I had been either Sleeping poorly or oversleeping. And I knew that something was wrong. If you’re experiencing similar symptoms, you must recognize the signs of depression.
You Can’t Focus or Concentrate
I talked to my GP earlier this week. I told him that I thought I had adult ADHD. There are days when I have so much to do but feel like I can’t accomplish any of the tasks on my never-ending to-do list. He reminded me with everything I had on the go that, it could be stress, anxiety or overwhelm. At times, I do find it hard to concentrate at work. I sit down to write, and I can’t clear the thoughts in my head. I would sit down at my desk, staring at my computer screen for minutes at a time, trying to will myself to start typing. But the words wouldn’t come. My mind was blank. I couldn’t focus on anything. Eventually, I would force myself to start working, but it was a struggle to get even the simplest tasks done. I began to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Everything felt effortful and pointless.
Eating Too Much or Too Little
I noticed a change in my appetite about a month ago. I started craving carbs and sugar. I must be keeping the Bagel House around the corner in business lately. I also noticed that I was more irritable and had trouble concentrating. This is a classic symptom of brain fog. What we eat definitely determines how we feel. I’ve always seen food as comforting. I wish I were one of those people who lost their appetite when stressed, but I’ve always been one to feed the stress and not starve it.
It started small, just a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I tried to push it aside, but it kept creeping back up no matter how much I wanted to ignore it. Soon, I felt agitated and restless all the time, unable to concentrate or find enjoyment in anything. The littlest things would set me off, and I got frustrated and angry at myself. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit it. Eventually, though, I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was dealing with another episode of depression.
Negative Thoughts About Yourself
Depression is a thief. It steals your joy, your motivation, and your vitality. It convinces you that you’re worthless, that your life is meaningless, and it deprives you of feeling grateful. Depression is a liar. It tells you that the world is dark and cold and that there’s no point in trying. But depression is also a survivor. It has been with me through my darkest hours when I thought I couldn’t go on. It has been my faithful companion through good times and bad. And it has taught me one important lesson: no matter how low I feel or how much pain I’m in, I will always find a way to keep going. Depression is a part of my identity, but it does not define me. I am stronger than my depression, and I will never give up. I’m also wise enough that I can’t always manage on my own.
We all feel stressed or overwhelmed on occasion. It impacts our sleep, appetite, motivation and outlook on life. I love to push and challenge myself; this and the events of my life may make me more predisposed than many others to depressive episodes. This blog post reminds us that we need to listen to our bodies and minds; these are warning systems that we need to be mindful of and not bury in the back of our heads.
The end of summer and back-to-school time can be stressful for kids and parents alike. This can also act as a beacon to ensure I get out for at least a couple of fifteen-minute daily walks because sometimes that’s all I’ve got in the tank. It reminds me to walk past the chips and candy aisle, or in my case, the ice cream freezers. Sometimes it means having a glass of water and not another coffee. It’s turning off my phone or computer to shut down my brain so I can sleep soundly. It’s waking up in the morning and thinking about all the things and people I have to be grateful for in my life. It’s listening to my body and mind, and what it’s asking me. Most importantly, it’s about talking to a friend or therapist to ensure these thoughts don’t manifest into something bigger.
To say Chris is passionate about youth mental health is an understatement. Since he lost his 14-year-old daughter, Maddie, to suicide, he’s been trying to coach parents with similar struggles with their kids. He’s talked to hundreds of parents with struggling kids. In many cases, these parents are barely holding it together too. He knows because he was one of those parents. He is relentlessly ensuring another family doesn’t experience the loss his family has endured.
He is Co-Executive Director of How Are You Feeling, an online, scientifically-based teaching program that makes kids understand their emotions and how to properly deal with them before they become “big feelings.”
Chris has been an entrepreneur for most of his career. He also runs a financial services company called The Finish Line Group, where he helps support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional journey.
Chris has written extensively about his experiences with his daughter and has been featured in numerous print and online publications and radio and television media. He has been a keynote speaker at several entrepreneurs and mental health conferences.
His personal “Why Statement” is “To openly communicate the lessons learned from his past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”