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When You Talk, Does Anybody Listen? ⋆

I thought I was good for a long time. Over ten years. But as the days went by, I realized I wasn’t.

One of the biggest catalysts in my entrepreneur journey was also my greatest burden… the memories of working in New York City on 9/11.

I didn’t die. I was only really scared that day, so I had a hard time accepting that it brought me pain and sadness and anxiety. It made me feel guilty. When I brought up what happened that day it seemed to make people uncomfortable. I got that, and it also made me wary of mentioning it. So I bottled it up.

It was around six years ago that I finally got to a point where I thought I needed some help. It was my first visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and I was overcome. I felt really irritable and claustrophobic.

It really bothered me how jovial some people were in what I thought should be a very solemn place. And then I saw a bunch of people mugging for the camera in front of a destroyed fire truck. I had to get out of there.

Damaged fire truck in the 9/11 Memorial Museum

I verbalized to myself shortly after that I was going to find somebody to talk to about it. I went to Yelp to look up therapists who dealt with PTSD.

My choice was a psychotherapist because I just wanted someone to talk to about things vs. a psychiatrist, who could also prescribe medications.

It felt so good to have somebody to talk to about things I felt like nobody wanted to hear, or I wasn’t comfortable talking about. As I worked through lingering 9/11 feelings, I also began to talk to a lot about work and the toll it took on me.

That whole entrepreneurial story that people idealize, but that can be isolating and scary more often. The failures and self-doubt, while putting on a brave face, and the tricky balance of being an entrepreneur with healthy relationships and outlets.

As I spoke to a therapist about personal and professional struggles, I found it beneficial in a number of ways.

First, there was having a safe and private place to talk about sensitive issues. No judgment, nobody taking offense. It was a foreign feeling to have somebody just listen and share their perspective without their feelings or biases intruding.

Second, it was an avenue to discuss how to improve sleep, nutrition, and physical activity patterns. These new, healthy behaviors and habits all had quick impacts on my physical and mental well-being.

Third, my relationships became more satisfying with an understanding of the need for better communication and fewer assumptions.

Finally, I became more mindful, less stressed, and more relaxed. I always heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses,” and I finally started doing it.

Our toughest struggles are just that – they are ours and the toughest things we are dealing with. Don’t worry about measuring them against others or worrying yourself about the stigma of getting some help. We all need somebody who will listen.

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