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Dealing with depression as a freelancer

by Zac Nielson 🏴 2 years ago in depression
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Choosing to be your own boss and become a freelancer is a huge commitment. You are in charge of your sales, you are in charge of your benefits, you are in charge of everything. This can be an intimidating feeling, even if just the other day you felt so motivated and ready to rule the world.

One day you can wake up and feel empty. You feel like you are nothing and will never accomplish your goals or provide for yourself or your family. That is just a part of this field. You have no guarantee of getting the income you need to survive, but that may just be enough motivation for you to ensure it happens. It has been for me, at times.

But a lot of the times a mix of other life factors and experiences can create a deep and dark space of depression. I know many other freelancers and designers that have dealt with these battles including myself.

Depression can and will cripple your design ability, your business ability, and your living ability. It is vital that you take control over the hindering hell we call depression.

The first important step is to understand the facts of depression. Do your research and learn everything you can about the effects and popular treatments. There are tons of support groups and people to talk to about your issues and of course there is always therapy and other medical treatments if needed. And of course, what I have to say on the subject Is not an end-all answer for your depression. It’s my experience and my advice to help you move forward each day as a productive freelancer with depression.

Getting started… the daily battle of depression

For me, the biggest struggle can often be getting started on work when you feel so unmotivated.. but here is the thing. Motivation is not something you get just by watching videos or even reading articles. Motivation comes from deep inside your being. It comes from accomplishing small things every day. It comes from working toward the goal, not even accomplishing the goal itself. It mostly comes from the process.

Working toward your bigger goals at all times must become your life's mission.

Often, we get confused about what we want in our lives, careers, businesses, everything. Focusing on all of the problems you are having and soon going to have is a surefire recipe for depressive episodes and seemingly laziness to set in. This is only natural, your body wants to protect you from highly stressful situations and in many cases can go too far in shutting down your productive mind.

There is however a solution, planning and making the first step every single day. Create battle plans for your days, weeks, months, and years. It takes many missions to accomplish a higher goal, it's vital you track progress, what needs to be done (the missions themselves,) and that you take at least one step toward the bigger goal each day. There is a science behind this, your body is constantly releasing chemicals that control everything you are feeling and doing.


Visualizing progress is one of the best ways to release Oxytocin, the chemical that basically makes you feel good, as you can see what you are accomplishing. This fights off depression, elevates your mood, and even helps release Oxytocin to those around you. Battle-plan. Every. Goal. You. Have.

Whether your biggest goal is total health transformation, business growth, or getting a promotion... It all works the same way In your head. Life is a constant battle for your attention and therefore your brainpower. Make sure you are the person in charge of that power.

So many of our problems can be solved by simply slowing down, focusing on the foremost problem, building a battle plan for long term goals, and tracking your progress. Even depression can be fought off with this powerful yet so essentially simply task of planning and tracking progress. Do not underestimate the power of your own mind.

Depression is not the definition of you. Depression is a struggle within you, as a self-employed person, depression can be life-shattering if you let it take over. Luckily, you are the commander in this struggle. You have the power to counter-attack depression. You must plan, execute, and move forward, no matter the pace. Forward steps are always better than standing still in a dark place.

It affects not only yourself but all of those around you. Creating and improving yourself shows those that you care for, that change is possible. That growth is necessary, and that you love them far too much to succumb to your problems.

Depression is a serious problem and should not be ignored. Accept that there has been something(s) in your life that have created this problem for you, accept that you are not powerless and can achieve great things regardless. The struggle of life is constant, but your willpower can and will destroy any obstacle in your path. Including your own depression.


About the author

Zac Nielson 🏴

American designer, entrepreneur, father.

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