San Francisco has some unique Mental Health needs… and I’m not even thinking about the guy on your bus this morning. We are a city of incredibly successful, innovative people, especially within the realm of software and technology. And, our city also hosts many who are financially barely scraping by, putting in 14 or 16 hour days, striving to create new technologies and successful businesses. The stress and anxiety of running a start-up can be huge. It impacts not only the start-up hopeful’s spirit, but his or her physical health and friend/family relationships too.
I have many close friends and family members—including a husband— who have worked for start-ups, some with moderate success, most without. I am often in awe of my start-up friends—-all of them, not just the “successful” ones. They embody a fiercer hope than most of us can even imagine, and they seem to intuitively understand cultural shifts and trends.
In my years around start-up workers, I’ve heard similar themes around stress, anxiety, and disappointment. Start-uppers seem to share a silent motto of “Failure is not an option.” This makes the question of “when to quit?” very complicated. What a blessing it would be if our businesses always crossed a clear line of no return, a point at which we must admit we did our very best, and move on. But so often there is a faint glimmer of hope: A little funding left, the thought that when the next version is out it will finally start gaining some users, the promise of a new hire helping us over that last hump.
Often, when a start-up worker does make a decision to move on to a different job or project, the feelings of disappointment are intense. She or he may struggle to make meaning out of so much hard work and sacrifice that did not lead to clear victory. Some of my acquaintances have started feeling some classic symptoms of depression— loss of interest in normally-enjoyable activities, over-sleeping or under-sleeping, sadness or numbness.
If you could use some help (and compassion!) with stress and anxiety either post-startup or while working for a startup, I’d be delighted to meet and hear how things are going. You can email me… or, if you’re tired of looking at the internet all day, feel free to give me a call!