Today I was deeply saddened to hear that Kate Spade a beloved designer took her own life. She was 55.
I always feel a tremendous sense of loss when I hear about anyone taking their own lives. Suicide is extremely tragic and complex, always leaving a deep sadness in my heart for the person who struggled for so long. Being both a mother and an entrepreneur like myself, this struck close to home.
I have experienced both tremendous joy and loneliness as a mom and entrepreneur.
Since beginning my journey as a mother 5 years ago, I have gone through emotional highs and lows. I have gone through periods of absolute elation and being in love with my babies, but I have also had a really difficult time mourning my “old life.” Two weeks ago I was struck with a deep longing for the past. And what was it that I was longing for? I was longing for Sundays the way they were while I was earning my Undergrad in residence at Wilfrid Laurier– Which was waking up and just studying all day. Taking a few breaks to eat and hang out with my roommates, but really spending the majority of my day reading and just absorbing knowledge and learning.
So simple, yet so impossibly out of reach.
And so are many of the things that I want from time to time because my current reality just doesn’t have space for those things, and sometimes it’s really difficult to accept that and maintain a positive mindset.
Do you know what helped me feel better that day? Being able to say those words out loud. Being able to talk to someone who could empathize with me without judgment and just let those feelings out. Once I said them, I was amazed at how much lighter I felt. I was able to move on with my day and enjoy my children because the feelings weren’t eating me up inside anymore. That day it was my husband who I had to talk to, but I am also lucky to have a sister, my parents (also entrepreneurs) and some great friends I can call too.
When it comes to life as an entrepreneur, it can also be a really lonely place.
When I had a traditional job, I went to work, I performed my assigned tasks, and then I received my salary and some other great benefits along with it. I worked for a very big corporation, and so I had many colleagues to connect with, share the challenges of my day, brainstorm and generally unpack anything work related and get great feedback and suggestions.
But, pursuing my purpose of doula work had been pulling on my heart for many years, and when I finally found my way back to it and made the decision to resign my job, the weight of the world (and my family’s financial responsibilities) came crashing down on me and it was a really scary place to be. Being an entrepreneur, you are everything- you are marketing, you are networking, you are finance, customer service, sales, everything and that is a big role to fill.
Kate was all of these things too. She built a multi-million dollar company world-wide, and yet the deep crushing unhappiness of her life was simply too much for her to bear any longer. These are often taboo feelings and topics and it’s really time to break the silence on maternal mental health.
I know many other mothers who are entrepreneurs, and we all share many of the same struggles including the loneliness and that feeling that we are not enough.
Sadly in motherhood and in the world of self-employment, mental health is not something talked about often. We will hear more about it now for sure, but it will be brief, and our culture will go back to placing the weight of the world on women’s shoulders.
Are you a mom or an entrepreneur or both?
Whatever brought you to this post today, I hope you find what you need. Maternal mental health is an important topic and there are things we can do to help ourselves or help those who need it.
- Have a list of friends you can call– whether they are mom friends, or entrepreneur friends- sometimes you just need a listening ear. I have people on both those lists that I can call if I need advice, support or I really just need to vent, and it has been all the help
- Get your partner more involved if you have one- partner engagement can make a huge difference in your mental health and well being as well give you daily companionship to help you feel loved and supported.
- Find places to go or communities you can be a part of–there are tons of mom or parent focused meetups on meetup.com or you can join parenting groups that share your values such as La Leche League of Canada. In my life as an entrepreneur, I am part of a great business mentorship program run by my doula school, as well as a great group of mama entrepreneurs called Mamas & Co. (If you’re a mamapreneur check them out!) and a great group program run by my personal coach Hina Khan. These three groups have been immensely important to me as an entrepreneur and mother because I have been able to find great support and advice to help me feel supported, confident, and know that I am not alone in this journey.
- Call a support line if you need to talk and you feel that your friends or family are not the right ones for the problem you are facing. There are many options in Peel Region, you can check out my resources page for some great ones.
- Be sure to take care of yourself. This is SO important, I cannot stress it enough. Think about what you like to do that nurtures your mind, body and soul. It doesn’t have to cost money. It can but it doesn’t have to. I have a list of things, some free, some with a cost. Maybe it’s going for a walk, getting a massage, reading a good book in the park or meeting a friend for lunch. For me, it’s meditation, reiki and massages. Calming my mind is the ultimate nurturing action I can take for myself, and I make sure that I do it daily for maintenance and growth and then treat myself to a healing massage and reiki session once per month.
I hope that we can all start to talk more about the struggles of motherhood, entrepreneurship, and the pressure of doing them both that many of us face. We need to focus on maternal mental health and give it the attention it deserves.
If you today, are feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and it feels too much to bear, please pick up the phone and talk to someone you love and trust. You are loved, you matter.