Overcoming Depression and Anxiety
Overcoming Depression and Anxiety to Pursue My Passion
My depression and anxiety became apparent in my teens. Some of these feelings of depression and anxiety were caused by genetics and life situations. My parents both became disabled when I was around 15-16 years old. My stepdad had a stroke and my mom lost her hearing. However, I didn’t even begin to understand what depression and anxiety meant until I was in my mid-twenties. When I started my healthy living journey with a goal of losing weight, in the summer of 2014, I started to look at my whole self: physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual. Some of it was not intentional but it all shed a lot of light on how and why I went about certain things in life.
As I discovered my own inner strength, I decided to pursue my dream of being a writer. This started with a blog which I hoped to monetize and turn into a business. I kept it going for six months before depression and lack of motivation got to me and then I let it go. There were periods of time in there that I didn’t blog as well. Then this past summer, we had a cross country move, and after we got settled into our new apartment, I was finally able to refocus and rededicate myself to my career as a writer in many more forms than I could ever imagine.
My new blog took on a more comprehensive direction, one that was more important and easier for me to maintain as it included writing about my passions as opposed to what I felt I should write about.
It all started with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
In the year prior to NaNoWriMo, I wanted to write a book about my healthy living and weight loss journey and all the progress I had made so far. From the time we arrived in our new apartment in our new city in California, I was reeling from all the change and fighting bouts of depression. Even though it hadn’t taken over my life completely, it was there in the background, threatening to keep me from pursuing my career.
NaNoWriMo was in November of that year and offered me an opportunity to be inspired and feed off of the energy of other writers. I was not writing a novel like nearly everyone else, but I wanted to ride the wave of excitement and the rush of having deadlines. The experience itself was such a blessing as it gave me a reason to push through the feelings of depression and anxiety that had been holding me back before, and thus showing me that depression and anxiety would not get the better of me after all.
It was almost two weeks into the month when I started my new blog, "Inspire the Best You". Starting the NaNoWriMo quest gave me the inspiration and motivation to actually go for it and finally get started, after months of playing around with names and having a bunch of false starts. I kept putting it off, but the experience of writing my book showed me that I still had it in me and gave me the push to do it.
I discovered the value of being a part of Facebook groups.
As I got involved in NaNoWriMo, a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a Facebook group of writers called Ninja Writers. Being a part of that group really showed me how much value there was in reading others’ posts, responding and helping out where I could, and asking for help myself when I needed it.
That group was like having a support group and a network of writers all in one. So as I got started with my new blog, I discovered some blogging and business groups on Facebook. Some were created by bloggers that I admired like Melyssa Griffin and byRegina, but there were so many others as well.
All of these groups showed me I wasn’t alone and I had people to reach out to if I needed it. I really feel like these groups helped me keep my depression and anxiety under control in order to continue pursuing my dreams, stay inspired and motivated, and get the help I needed to keep things going.
It was time to pursue my dreams of becoming a professional writer.
While my ultimate dream has always been to become a novelist, nonfiction has been my passion so far in my career. I am more than open to writing fiction and have many ideas for this, but so far I have got my hands full with nonfiction through my blogging, freelance writing, and writing the book about my healthy living journey.
I knew a good way to start my writing career that was more immediately profitable was to become a freelance writer. At first, I didn’t know how to go about doing that though. Then I found an article by another freelance writer named Elna Cain called “20 Ways to Find Freelance Writer Jobs as a Beginner.” It was enlightening by providing me with many options to get my name and the fact that I was looking for freelance writing work out there in a way that worked for me and I found very doable. For instance, some of the topics she covered were:
- Cold pitching and how that works.
- Guest posting and including in your bio that you’re for hire as a writer.
- Using Craigslist to advertise your services and apply for positions.
One of the themes of my healthy living journey and my pursuit of my writing career was to do what I could with what I had, and in a way that works for me. I believe this helped me as a person, but also helped me keep the depression and anxiety from taking over control because I wasn’t allowing myself to get too overwhelmed in my pursuits. So when I saw at least a few things in Elna Cain’s post that would easily work for me, I was pumped up and eager to get started.
I posted to Craigslist offering my services and started responding to people who were seeking writers. At first, I wasn’t super diligent, but as I got the hang of it, I got a lot better at communication and also at responding to their ads.
I also offered my services in various places in some of the Facebook blogger and entrepreneur groups I was a part of, wherever it was allowed, and have gotten a client as well as a couple of potential clients that way as well.
My advice to anyone who deals with depression and anxiety, and wants to pursue their passion as a career:
- Do your best to focus on the positives as you pursue your career, and celebrate every little success. Push through the feelings as much as you can and deal with them as they come.
- It is always a good idea to remember what is actually important. Prioritize, get done what absolutely needs to be done, and let go of what you can’t control or get done. None of us can do all and be all, we need to take it one step at a time and work on making progress in the right direction.
- Another piece of advice that I feel strongly about is to not compare yourself to others. We are all unique and we all go at our own pace. Not only that, but we may approach things differently, and that is actually a good thing.
- As I learned from being a part of the Facebook groups, leaning on other people that understand where you’re coming from, either with your mental health or with your goals, can be so valuable and inspiring!
- Most of all, do what you can with what you have and in a way that works for you because that will carry you much further than trying to do it all at once and ending up burnt out!
Bio: Bonnie McConaughy is the owner and founder of Inspire the Best You (www.inspirethebestyou.com), where she writes about weight loss, healthy living, self-love, and personal growth. If you are interested in those topics, stop by and read her blog! She is also a freelance and ghostwriter (www.bonwriterfreelance.biz)