Saturday, September 10, 2016

Anxiety in Creative Business: Tara Swiger and Encouragement that You Can Move Forward

This podcast on Depression and Anxiety in Creative Business from Tara Swiger caught my attention, and I wanted to write about it. Tara also sent this introduction to a follow up webinar:
Studies show that 1 in 5 adults deal with mental health issues at least once in their life.
And yet, there's so much shame and stigma about talking about this.And still, in the last few months dozens of students and friends have told me about their depression, anxiety, or struggles with their kids health.
I understand not everyone is called to talk about their experience publicly...but when we ALL stay quiet, the stigma grows strength. So today on the podcast, I'm getting honest.
You’re not alone in this.
You are NOT alone in struggling with this. And as I share, I want you to remember – whatever you’re struggling with, not only are you not alone, but you can also move forward WITH IT. Exactly as you are. People are doing it. You don’t have to be different, better, or “more together” to make a business thrive.
I have a creative business, and when I have anxiety, sometimes I come to a halt in the belief that I can't move forward WITH IT.  But the truth is I started creating art in the depths of my anxiety, and went on to start my Etsy shop in 2007 just a few months after I began Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for my OCD.  The Exposure for me was to create the shop without knowing if it was "perfect" or the right photos, or the right descriptions, or whether anyone would ever want to buy anything. 

Tara describes how reading about intolerance of uncertainty resonated with her when thinking about her own anxiety, and this is a key theme of mine as well.  All those What If questions, the desire to know how things will turn out before they happen.

Struggling with manually creating Wordpress website for my business was the next step to realize I was compulsively researching how to do it, when in fact, I needed something simpler, and the anxiety of letting go of the idea that I needed to know how to do things before I knew how to do them.  

A turning point was at a craft show, when a woman spent a long time checking each of my items for the most "perfect" one.  The piece that the craft show customer liked the best wasn't the most flawless in her eyes, so she told me she was choosing another one that had no visible defect.  Talking with my ERP therapist, I recognized myself in this woman.  Shopping for anything would drag on because I couldn't decide if a "flaw" would mesmerize me forever or eventually fade, and I would get angry at myself for latching onto such tiny things.  

It was huge to know I was making imperfect art, but that I wanted to do it anyway.  That I did not want to walk away from something I truly loved, because it was flawed.  I now work full time in my creative business, and yes, when anxiety flares up it is difficult, but part of the difficulty is in believing that I must entirely banish the anxiety to accomplish anything, and that it is a sign that I am a "bad person" if I feel anxious. The underlying premise of Exposure Therapy is that you can move forward through the anxiety, that it is possible, and for this encouragement, I am grateful. 


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