I’m the Founder of a Tech Company, I Have Clinical Depression and I’m Grateful for It


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Did you know that it is estimated that about 5% of the population suffers from some form of depression? So there is a good chance that you will meet someone who is suffering from depression, or it may be something you personally deal with. Maybe you don’t know you’re depressed, like me. Having depression has changed my life … in a positive way. Yes, in a positive way. Let me explain.

With the wick lit, the wick would burn in a calculated and effective way by making ruins and making its way to the end. And when the force of shock shocked the target, remorse and embarrassment inevitably went away. That was my life. It was not constant. He was often happy, normal, just one of the boys. But inside, the smallest of things, the nominal insults, the outlandish comments, things that most people would ignore, became the party that lit the wick. My anger never turned into physical expression, because I knew that would be the end of my career, my relationships and me. But I just couldn’t turn it off, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how irrational I knew it was. He was always inches from another explosion.

My name is Collin. I am the founder and president of New Era ADR, a VC-supported startup in the legal space. Prior to New Era, I was the attorney general for Reverb.com, a marketplace for musical instruments that we sold on Etsy in 2019. Prior to Reverb, I was an Oracle internal attorney and spent more than 10 years as a litigating AmLaw. 200 companies. Why am I telling you this? Not to expose my resume. It’s because, by some measures, I’ve been successful in my career. Despite this slow-burning temperament, anger boiling beneath the surface, I was always able to bury it and move on professionally. But I’ll be honest, as if a hot stove was burning me, it hurt. You can only internalize your emotions for so long before they take away your happiness, your drive, and your being. Like a mask, you put on a smile every day waiting and praying that you can pass without anyone seeing your real self, because your real self is ugly, visceral or maybe even dangerous.

Related: 4 Tips for Coping with Founder Depression

I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know where to start. From what I remember, I just happened to be a real life Harvey Dent. I was strong, optimistic, and self-sufficient (as if this were a good way to live). Sometimes I think that happiness is an illusion, that it can be too cynical, but at the very least, it is a fleeting and necessary emotion that balances you and makes your life worthwhile. I didn’t have it. I was burning inside. Worse, I was confused and completely lost in what was happening to me.

My episodes got worse. I found it difficult to live, even intolerable. Finally, my wife asked me for help. But what did that mean? She was clear. I meant therapy. And this is where it gets interesting. You see, I’m a big boy. I played football from high school to college. I still play competitive hockey (my friends would say this is pushing it as an adjective). A few years ago, I had an MMA gym and I still train when I can. In other words, I am a comically stereotypical male archetype. In a vacuum, I would be the person who would make fun of the simple suggestion of therapy. It would show weakness and fragility. It would make me less of a person, or so I thought. But since there were no other clear avenues for help, I opened my mind to the idea, and what I learned was that all my preconceived ideas were complete and absolutely absurd.

I spoke to a friend who is an occupational therapist to see if she had any ideas. He researched a bit and suggested I talk to a therapist at his hospital, Teri Hull. Normally, I would keep this anonymous, but Dr. Hull literally changed my life. We met, I explained my symptoms and in the first 10 minutes she calmly explained to me, “You have depression.” It was like an anvil hitting my head. What? What does it mean? Depressed people walk in the fog, don’t enjoy life, get drunk and can barely function. It was good. It could work.

But what I didn’t know is that depression manifests itself in many different ways, and two of the main manifestations are anger and rage. It can also include attacks of sadness or confusion. The thing is, you can’t be sure how you can express yourself in your personal situation. The reality is, however, that instead of being upset or confused, I felt an overwhelming relief. It wasn’t crazy or malfunctioning. He was not a broken soul or a bad person. There was something wrong with me. He had a name. It was definable and maybe even biological. And most importantly, it was treatable.

Related: Startup founders can’t afford to ignore mental health

I have been in therapy constantly for almost three years. For anyone unfamiliar with therapy, it can range from a wide range of services, but at its basic level, it can only be talking to someone and getting their unfiltered view of your feelings and feelings. circumstances in your life that make them manifest in a certain way. It’s not always about lying on a couch and repeating the pains of your childhood. I’ve never dedicated myself to the Hollywood version of therapy. Instead, for me, it’s about talking about what happened yesterday and today, and making sure I have the coping mechanisms in place to prevent this light from coming on.

I’d love to think I’m a pioneer in talking about these issues, but the credit goes to the top athletes who have spoken openly about their mental health struggles: Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, DeMar DeRozan , Kevin Love, the list goes on. On the world stage, these athletes had the courage to say, “It’s okay not to be okay.” Even the strongest and most talented of us are human. They are not impervious to problems and helped make the search for help socially acceptable. They deserve applause for being human rather than for being great athletes.

I am still far from perfect. My wife would tell you. My friends would tell you. But now I’m very functional and I can see above the clouds that once dominated my life. I still fight often. I’ve thought about medicine, but I haven’t followed that path. Not because there are any mistakes, but it didn’t make sense to me. Instead, I use the tools I have learned in therapy to try to think and address these episodes when they happen. My therapist taught me one of the best coping mechanisms, and I’m here to pass it on to all of you, for free, sorry, Dr. Hull. When something bad happens and you find it overwhelming, take a step back and evaluate how bad it really is. Is it really catastrophic? Does it have the potential to impact you, your family, or your life? The truth is, while something may seem overwhelming right now, the consequences are really rare. And when they are not, say to yourself, “This is not an emergency.” Repeat until you are back on your feet and can respond appropriately. I use this tip two or three times a day and it works. If you work for a startup or a start-up company, you understand how difficult things can seem at times. Remember, “This is not an emergency.”

Believe it or not, I’m grateful for my depression. This may sound ridiculous, but it is true. Before I knew what was going on with me, I assumed I had some inherent flaws. It was broken in some way. Now that I know what’s going on with me, I’m grateful, because it has given me a limitless perspective. I have more love for the little things. I look at my son in amazement, because he can find joy in almost anything, and that makes me happy. I have more empathy for friends, classmates, and even strangers, because I have no idea what might be going on. Remember, 5% of us care about that. Good days seem even brighter while bad days are more manageable.

I am a lawyer. I am a professional. I am a founder. I have depression. But I’m not broken, nor am I ashamed. I am human and I am grateful.

Related: How this entrepreneur overcame depression when self-help didn’t work



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