5 Lessons from the Trenches – Rolling Stone

if you are scrolling Through social media, you might think everyone is crushing it, especially entrepreneurs. He has a perfect life: all rainbows, sunshine and nine-digit ratings. Each day brings a new deal, a big win, and a perfectly crafted LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram post to celebrate it. But beneath this thin veneer, there likely lies a person struggling with everyday life just like you and me.

Want to be real for a second? Let’s be real Starting a company is really challenging. Life is really hard. And all kinds of people are struggling every day, even when they’re doing great.

I’m sharing my story because I want you to know that it’s okay to face challenges with mental health. It doesn’t come down to who you are or what you’re trying to accomplish. And I want you to know that this is totally normal.

hello i’m dan

Looking back, it is clear that I have struggled with mental health for most of my life. But it came into sharp focus when my mother passed away in March 2019. We were very close.

When he died, I was shaken deeper and deeper to my foundation and have been working ever since to get back on my feet.

Toss in a global pandemic, some chronic back pain, an inordinate amount of work stress… and I was really struggling. Normally highly risk-tolerant and outgoing, I became withdrawn, depressed and anxious.

I’ve kept it mostly private, sharing only with close friends and family. I was concerned that sharing my mental health challenges would damage my company and my professional brand. I wondered if people would treat me differently.

But as I began to open up and share my experiences, I found many people with similar stories — people who felt alone in their struggles. That’s why I’m here to help normalize these issues. My hope is that by sharing my challenges and some of the things I’ve learned, others who may be struggling in silence may be able to seek help and open up. Or at least, help them feel a little less lonely.

Some time ago, at the recommendation of my sister (who is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon), I sought help in the form of therapy and psychiatry. These days, I see my therapist once a week and my psychiatrist twice a month. I’m still working through my challenges, but I have a strong network of support and I’m so grateful for that. I still feel depressed and anxious at times, but I know I have a safety net. It is a great thing.

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1. Surround yourself with resources and support

There is something uniquely valuable about therapy. It’s one thing to talk to friends and family about your struggles — friends and family are great. But it’s a whole different experience working with a professional who has no agenda other than listening and helping you.

Start by taking the first step toward finding a professional who can walk this path with you. Ask for doctor referrals from people you trust. Then take the second step by writing an email and making a phone call. It can be hard to find someone you connect with, but don’t be discouraged! There is help out there and it makes a world of difference.

2. Start Where You Are

This may seem obvious but bear with me. At any given moment in time, you are where you are. Think of it like a trail map with a big “You Are Here” dot. You probably don’t want to live there. You may want to be somewhere completely different. You may feel guilt or regret for past decisions that got you to where you are. But you are where you are at that moment, and you cannot be anywhere else.

Start there and then decide where to go next.

3. Think About Managing More Than Solving

It’s natural for entrepreneurs to approach problems through the lens of solutions. That’s all we do. But some things just aren’t meant to be resolved (at least not yet). The process is critical to progress. There is no magic bullet for relieving depression and anxiety. Instead, work each day to manage your way through it.

4. Embrace life to the fullest, even the hard parts

That’s easier said than done, especially because some of the hard parts are really, really hard. But that is what makes life, life. There are a lot of experiences in the human condition and you are going to face them all: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Wrap your arms around the totality of your life. Resisting the hard parts only increases the pain.

5. Recognize Resistance and Be Soft Around It

It is a great thing. It is natural to feel resistance to difficult material. We don’t want our loved ones to die. We don’t want to miss work. We don’t want to have difficult conversations. We don’t want to struggle with our mental health. There are many things that we do not want in our lives, but they are all the same.

Step 1: Look and identify your inner resistance. No judgement, just observation.

Step 2: Don’t fight it. Your instinct may be to resist resistance, but it won’t get you very far. Instead, try to soften around him. Let the resistance melt away.

Bonus Tip:

Just be gentle with yourself. It’s a tough job and you’re doing your best.

And finally, if you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Feel free to reach out to me on social (I’m easy to find) and I’ll be happy to be a resource to you and help in any way I can. Life is tough, but it’s better together.

If you, or someone you know, is in crisis, here are some free resources for 24/7 support:


• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.

• Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741. Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

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