From Depression to Startup – Part 2

Part 2: Redefining Myself

This is Part 2 in a series of posts chronicling my journey starting up my business, Brilliant Socks, and my continued recovery from depression. Click here for Part 1.

While I struggled through a depressive episode for six years, I often told others that “I’m not feeling like myself.” Now that I’m feeling better, I find it uncomfortable to say what I believe a person is supposed to say in my situation: “I’m feeling more like myself again.” After not feeling like myself for such a long time, I am left to wonder who I am any more. The person I used to be six years ago feels like a complete stranger to me.

He was someone who had his life planned out quite neatly in front of him. He held down a steady corporate job. He made a good living. He was able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle — eating out often, buying nice things, and travelling plenty. Yet despite all that, he was severely depressed.

Now this isn’t to suggest that a traditional corporate lifestyle was what led me to becoming depressed. Far from it. In fact, my work provided me both structure and security, which often served as an invaluable buffer from life’s more difficult challenges. I also worked alongside some amazing colleagues, who were of great support to me during the moments my mental health began unravelling. In other words, my job didn’t make me depressed. I feel that I was predisposed to depression based on how my mind was wired — often over-analytical to the point of brooding. And if I didn’t overcome this brooding, I believe I would have cycled in and out of depression the rest of my life.

It took time to get better, albeit much more time than I had initially anticipated. If I were to even consider re-entering the corporate labour market today, I would have to try to explain away a six year gap in my life. Before my depressive episode, I used to be very proud of my resume. Now, I move forward as if it never existed. If anything, starting my own business — as challenging as startups are known to be — seems easier than having to deal with the red flags on my resume that my absence created.

In ways I would have never imagined, it has become quite liberating starting from scratch. I have been able to take the weighty expectations I previously had for my career, and comfortably toss them aside. I have also been able to reexamine the very characteristics I used to define myself by. I have always wondered whether I could consider myself to be creative. Building my startup is a great way to find out that answer.

Best of all, I don’t have to try moulding myself into a person who can rise to the top of a corporate ladder. The ladder is gone. I have the freedom to choose the things about myself that I would like to work on. So here I am, a blank canvas if you will. And with this blank canvas, I’m extremely excited where the next six years of my life will take me, and who I’ll be on the other side.

I’ll end with a small progress update on my startup Brilliant Socks. I’m currently in the process of assessing suppliers in Korea that will help me manufacture the stylish, high-quality dress socks I plan to offer to customers this coming January. Stay tuned for more information about the company’s launch, as well as my continued recovery from depression.

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