Being an entrepreneur is challenging; it requires a determination and dedication that those on the outside would describe as insane. No lies told so far. But what happens when you throw depression and mental health issues into the mix? We interviewed Latoya Lovell, an entrepreneur and influencer who openly suffers from depression to find out her coping mechanisms.
For many of us, discussing our mental health is still taboo. Holding yourself together as the strong woman you’re known as doesn’t mean you need to suffer in silence. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness – it is preparation for healing.
This is something that Latoya discusses in our interview, as she admits where she felt herself slipping and what helped her get back on track, as balancing life, mental illness and entrepreneurialism can sometimes disrupt someone’s inner peace.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Inspirational, empowering and creative.
What do you do for a living?
Well, I like to call myself a content producer because I come up with my own content. Content Production is what I do because I come up with my own content and then I will do visuals.
You have previously written about your depression. Can you describe your experience of this?
Well, if I were to state it in simple points – my father and best friend’s mum passed around the same time and shortly after I entered a very toxic relationship. During and after it ended, I fell into this dark spiral. I think I felt like I kept disappointing people. So, I thought it was better for everything if I wasn’t around anymore … I sent texts saying I couldn’t do it anymore, but then my mum got involved. She looked after me for about three days and then took me to a doctor. It was hard to face my depression, sitting down with a professional and a family member helped me get my life back in order.
So how would you say having depression has affected you in your life as an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I cried today because I felt so tired. But you have to kind of realise that the only person that’s going to bring you out of it is yourself and you kind of have to find the strength to get up and keep going. Now for me, I have a psychology degree, so when I was depressed, it was like that was another reason I didn’t want to reach out, because in my head, I knew all the techniques that they were going to give me, so how is someone else going to help if I can’t even practice those techniques?
What are some of your coping mechanisms?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is something I learned about at University. It’s reminding yourself to replace the negative thoughts with the positive ones, like this morning. What I did was I cried because I felt so tired, but in my head, I said, ‘you know what, Latoya, it’s okay to feel tired; you’re going to feel tired – however, tonight, you’re going to make sure you go to bed early’.
As an entrepreneur, you work like 13 hours a day, working more hours than the regular person and trying to fit in having a life as well. It’s hard to juggle stuff but at the same time, it’s just a case of reminding myself. I’ve even tried to incorporate them into my son’s life – and he’s only ten so he doesn’t realise – but because I realised these techniques work for me now, I’m teaching him these techniques from a young age. On the back of his door, he’s got a chalkboard and it says, ‘Be Kind, Be Caring, Be Great, Be Anton’… it’s good to be reminded of what you’re working towards because often we forget that.
So, what would you say to a fellow woman entrepreneur who is struggling with depression?
That it’s okay to ask for help. I would direct her to MIND. They’re quite discretionary and you can phone, you can speak to a counsellor and it’s confidential.
As women, we take on the world, but when does it become too much. At what point should she take action?
When you think you can’t cope, for me that’s the point where most people realise that they need help. I had friends around me that could see certain behaviours and were like ‘this isn’t Latoya’. I cried more, was always tired. I didn’t even realise I was depressed until someone highlighted it to me.
We as women take on so much, like maintaining a home and going to work. We are not super women and at some point, something will give, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. I think it’s just being realistic with yourself because you have to be in a place where you can do that. If you know yourself enough and you can be honest, nine times out of 10, generally, you can think ‘OK, I’m emotional’, or ‘I don’t want to get out of bed’; those aren’t normal ways to think.
Because where we all might not want to go into work, but to not physically be able to get out of bed because everything seems too much, is a big red flag.
When you speak to other women, you realise that there’s a lot of women out there that are going through the same battles.
If you need help and support with your mental health, please contact MIND