Are you a manager? Director? Pastor? CEO? Speaker? In the public eye? Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness? If so, I understand you. I understand the challenges and joys of living with the stigma, or as some might say the “gift”.
In many areas of my life, I take a leadership role. I love it and thrive on it. At work, I am the Coordinator of Community and Family Services, I am on various leadership teams at my church and lead a small group. I also volunteer in leadership roles within the community. And of course, being a mom, I help co-lead my family. Yep, I’m a leader. But, as you’ve read in throughout my blog, I also suffer with mental illness.
Truthfully, as you may have read, I’m just coming out of a low season of my life. It’s too bad, because (like most people), I have a lot going on. I didn’t feel as clear and tended to get overwhelmed more easily than normal. However, I managed through it. I understood when I need to step back, take a break and recharge. This is one key in managing a leadership role. For me, sometimes a simple walk in the woods helps rejuvenate my soul. Yet other times, it takes much more.
Yes, I do unfortunately still feel shame. I know I shouldn’t, especially since I write about it and tell others they shouldn’t. It’s something I’m still working on. I “should” be able to handle running the programs and campaigns at work. I “should” be able to handle my family. I “should” be able to handle life. And you know what? I can and I do! But I don’t do any of it alone. In all areas (work, church, community and home) I do everything with volunteers, friends and family. That’s how we were made…to live in community together. We do life together. It’s pretty awesome. We need to surround ourselves with people we can trust and be real with. I have my incredibly supportive family, a close circle of trusted friends and recently a wonderful new mentor. All of these people help advise and encourage me, as well as, most importantly, listen. Since I am the one that many people come to for direction, having people in my life to listen to me without judgement, is key.
And you know what else I’ve discovered? It helps me to help others. I know when I step away from my own issues to listen and understand others, it really helps me. Now, that’s pretty awesome!
There are many leaders in the bible who dealt with potentially depressing circumstances but still went on to do great things (David, Paul, Jeremiah, Job). Clearly, they put their hope in God and trusted Him alone to completely guide and direct their lives. That’s what I do. I don’t know God’s plan for my life, but I do know I must trust Him.
There are also many other world leaders that suffered with a mental infliction of some form. Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill J.F.K. to name a few. Not only were they great leaders, but through their depression/mental illness these leaders were able demonstrate a greater degree of empathy and a greater concern for how others think and feel . That’s an advantage in leadership.
So, overall, there are 5 key items of consideration that I do to provide self care in a leadership role:
1. Rest and recharge
3. Know my limit
4. Help Others
5. Trust God
Are you in leadership and suffer with mental illness? How do you manage?