How My Mental Illness Impacts My Small Business

I have a depressive mood disorder. I was diagnosed in 2014 but I will admit that I had a few tumultuous years as a teenager and young adult. My mental illness at that point just went undiagnosed and untreated. I started medication soon after my diagnosis, along with therapy. I worked to create stability, developing habits and tools for my mental health.

During my depressive episode in 2014, I was forced to step away from my job at the time. I took a six-month medical leave, relying on EI, along with still taking photography jobs. Now, I work full-time for my business and I’ve had to reckon with how my mental illness may impact my work and my income.

I have to be very honest about my capacity because my capacity may be less than my counterparts in the industries my business inhabits. I need to create systems that support me during seasons of lowered capacity. And I especially need to practice having grace for myself through each season.

Of course, my mental health will affect my business but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s a neutral factor that must be considered in my planning and operations. The expectation to always work at the same capacity is ableist and unrealistic. I am much more than my business; I am human.

What do this awareness of my capacity and the factoring-in of my mood disorder look like for my day-to-day? It means that I carefully vet projects I want to join, and even clients I want to accept. It means that the threshold for accepting jobs is not a fully packed calendar, but a carefully guarded pot of energy I dish out to ensure that I can be at my best for each client. It means outsourcing when I am able to. It means pricing myself in a way that can sustain my business with a smaller workload when needed. It means sleeping in. It means regular therapy. It means surrounding myself with furbabies. It means keeping rest a priority.

My mood disorder has taught me to appreciate every day, little things that bring a smile to my face and calm to my body. My mental health journey has tempered my ambition in the light of my humanity. It is a part of me and therefore a part of my business.