Entrepreneurship: Tips for Women Battling Mental Illness

Entrepreneurship, is the process of setting up a business. For, entrepreneurs, battling, mental illness, controlling their, emotions, is their superpowers, when it comes to building a business of our dreams.

My guest today is Scout Sobel. She is the author of the “Emotional Entrepreneur” and we are going to be having a very interesting conversation today on, mental health, specifically the, mental health, of entrepreneurs.  As you consider, entrepreneurship,  you need to understand how our, emotions, guide you in everyday life.

Download and Listen to the full interview here:

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Bio

Scout experienced her first depressive episode at the age of 14 and was formally diagnosed with, bipolar disorder, at the age of 20. Living with a, mental illness, brought an onslaught of symptoms: anxiety, hypomania, depression, catatonia, psychosis, and, suicidal ideation.

Her perception of her life weighed down on her so poignantly that she dropped out of college, could not hold a job or internship, was hospitalized, experimented with medleys of prescription medication, and went through two outpatient programs.

One day her husband (then boyfriend) looked at her lovingly and said, “I don’t care if you’re depressed. If you are depressed and hopeful, I can be in this relationship. If you are depressed and hopeless, I can’t do this with you.” 

Book Emotional Entrepreneur

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That was the moment her life changed. She started infusing her life with hope and began to take radical responsibility for her emotional state. And after intense, self-development, work – support groups, holistic healing modalities, prayer, routines, and physical wellness, she found, entrepreneurship. Through, entrepreneurship, she learned to unconditionally love her life through the pain, challenges, and celebrations. She learned that she wanted to be here.

Today, Scout is the Founder and CEO of Scout’s Agency, a female-focused PR agency that specializes in getting women as guests on, podcasts.

Her debut book, The Emotional Entrepreneur, provides the, mindset, and, emotional tools, she learned from managing her, mental illness, that have helped her succeed in business and, entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship and mental illness

Myrna: I want to start off with something you say in your book “The Emotional Entrepreneur”, you said that our, emotions, are our guiding superpowers when it comes, entrepreneurship, and building a business of our dreams. How did your, emotions, guide you to become an, entrepreneur?

Scout: Very shortly after I was diagnosed with, bipolar disorder, my husband said those sentences that changed my life and I started infusing hope into my days. Which beautifully led me to faith through that process of showing up to support groups, writing gratitude lists etc. My gratitude list and my journal, every single morning reading every self-help book Barnes and Noble had to offer.

I was sitting with my friend at a coffee shop and we were looking through an Indie magazine (I love fashion magazines). I just looked at her and I asked do you want to start a magazine with me? She said yes, let’s do it. We were going to print it at Kinko’s and pass it out to our friends for free. This was going to be a borderline arts and crafts project.

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Transform your Mind Podcast Index

What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur

Suddenly, something in my mind just flipped and immediately I went home. I got the Instagram handle, I searched for printers in the area and then set up five appointments with all the best printers in 50 mile vicinity. I went to see them and then they quoted me ten thousand dollars. I said to myself, ‘I have to find ten thousand dollars’.

Then, I started a kick starter campaign and fast forward, our second issue was picked up by national distributor and sold in newsstands across the country. I was 22 at the time.

The third issue had musician Halsey on the cover and I woke up to an email from Barnes and Noble asking if they could distribute my magazine as well.

So, in that three-issue process of, entrepreneurship, and  running that magazine, I went from the girl that had to pull herself out of bed, to becoming an, entrepreneur, who was in charge of everything. It was like walking through quicksand.   I couldn’t deal with responsibility. I became the girl that over functioned. I became the girl that went the extra mile in such a short time.

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Becoming an Entrepreneur

I found out that, entrepreneurship, was two things that I felt:

  1. Entrepreneurship, has the same highs and lows as, bipolar disorder.  My mind could really understand the emotional pattern behind it.
  2. I was unable to show up for the responsibilities in my life, because I always had a psychiatrist note that could excuse me.  I didn’t have to go to friend’s birthday party because I had a, mental illness.  All my friends would understand or try to understand etc.

I really used my, mental illness, as a, crutch, to avoid responsibility and avoid showing up in my life in the ways that I really needed to, but when it came to, entrepreneurship, there was no note a psychiatrist could write out because I couldn’t tap out of it .

If I tapped out, the whole thing would fall apart, so it was almost this contradictory paradox.  I had to have all the responsibility on my shoulders in order for me to show up, I had to be completely present in every aspect.   So, I found in the beginning of, entrepreneurship, that I showed up because I had the freedom to create what I wanted to create and I couldn’t call in sick, that didn’t work anymore.

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Myrna: I also believe that, happiness, is working towards a goal and there is no better goal than when you’re working for yourself and you’re trying to grow your business as an, entrepreneur.  I also like your confession that you were using the doctor’s notes as a cop-out in life.

A lot of people do that, they lead with their illnesses. It doesn’t even have to be, mental illness, it could be a physical illness and they lead with that. Oh! I can’t do this because of this, mental illness, it’s a cop-out because we know being in the inspirational space, that people overcome challenges all the time.

They defy odds and do amazing things with no hands and no legs.

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Are you addicted to your mental illness

Scout: I think it’s important. I don’t know if it’s touched upon enough and it’s something I say that can ruffle feathers or maybe trigger some people. I was addicted to my, depression. My, depression, my anxiety and my, mental illness, while it kept me in such distress and pain and chaos and crying fits and, anxiety attacks.

It kept me in my comfort zone, it kept me in the predictable, it kept me in what my body was used to. So, in many ways, it held me back from my healing because it said “no, that freedom out there, that’s unknown – (we don’t know what’s going to happen over there).

Let’s just stay in the pain so we can predict what’s happening, we know how this is going to go. It prevented me and allowed me not go through my formative early 20s not assuming responsibility for my emotional state.

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Taking responsibility for mental illness

So my, mental illness, was very real and tangible, and loves to visit me at times when I would prefer it not to.

There was a lot of moments and I think most of my suffering came from the fact that I allowed myself to play the victim.  I blamed the cards that I was dealt on my despair and suffering. The minute I realized and took responsibility and accepted that these were the cards that I was dealt, I started to use my emotional landscape as my superpower.

Today, ten years after being diagnosed with, bipolar disorder, and  16 years after having my first depressive episode, I feel wildly safe in my, emotions.

I think they are my biggest teachers, mentors and guides. They have helped me with, entrepreneurship. They are the reasons I am successful with Scott’s Agency. I also started recognizing that when I got into, entrepreneurship, this game was a, personal development, game. It wasn’t a play, it wasn’t a market strategy (those are all parts of it) but at the end of the day, successful, entrepreneurs, are successful because of their emotional strength and their, mindset.

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What does it mean to be an entrepreneur

I saw that so many women who had the resources, the education, the access to funds, are not getting into the game of their dreams because of self-doubt, because of fear and anxiety. That’s when I woke up. My, bipolar disorder, primed me to walk through emotional hell, to gather the strength and the tools that I could then apply to living out my purpose (which is running Scouts Agency, writing books etc).

So, once I realized that it was the emotional landscape that was holding us all back from success, that’s when the light bulb went off in my brain.

Myrna: Yes, it’s true our, emotions, dictate the quality of our lives which is basically why I named this show “Transform your Mind to transform your life” because if you believe that you can, you can. And if you have this, crutch, that says you were born poor or you were born black or you were born with a, mental illness, or you were born with whatever, crutch, that you want to tell yourself, that prevents you from moving forward, and your life is not going to be transformed.

Scout: Everyone can find a, crutch, no matter who they are, no matter if their life is technically great on paper or technically really unfortunate circumstances, we can all easily rely on a, crutch.

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Entrepreneurship and the emotional ride of uncertainty

Myrna: How can, entrepreneurs, handle the emotional rollercoaster and what kind of, mindset shifts, that they need in order to become a successful, entrepreneur? You talked about your purpose and the fact that your, bipolar disorder, with your highs and lows allowed you to have the emotional strength to become an, entrepreneur.

Let’s talk about the, entrepreneur, that is doing everything. What kind of advice would you give to that, entrepreneur, (female) let’s say that wants to start a magazine or a hair salon or something and has to deal with all the aspects of, entrepreneurship, and the uncertainty?

Scout:  First cultivate the belief that you’re safe in your, emotions, and then unconditionally accept that uncomfortable, emotions, are highly part of this game and that you will survive them.

That you are safe in your, emotions, and that you can reduce the suffering above the pain. What I mean by that is if you can limit the, anxiety, about the, anxiety, or the sadness about the, depression, we can work with the root cause.  Uncomfortable, emotions, and really understand what it’s trying to tell us, that makes you an, entrepreneur.

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Don’t expect entrepreneurship to be fun

So, before you jump into the game, understand that you’re going to be juggling all the hats.

  • You’re going to be the customer service expert,
  • The graphic designer,
  • You’re going to be the social media manager
  • The sales manager.
  • The website designer

All these roles that you have to figure out.  On top of that you’re going to have to walk through the uncomfortable discomfort that comes with that responsibility. So, know and accept that’s part of the game.

It’s really suiting up and really pulling in from your personal power and strength. It’s not expecting that, entrepreneurship, is going to be easy, fun and glamorous.  That you’re always in alignment, you’re flowing with creative ideas and your courses are selling out with six figure launches automatically etc. The fires will come more often than the successes.

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Entrepreneurship is living from the end

Myrna: As a Lifecoach, I understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s a very hard pill to swallow, because people go into, entrepreneurship, with the dream of riches and wealth and they don’t necessarily go into it thinking of the fires. They understand it’s hard work, but it’s very hard to smile and say I’m going to walk through the fire.  Tony Robbins, make you do the fire walk and I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s setting you up for that you can walk through the fire and not get burnt.

I follow Dwayne Dwyer and he talks about, living from the end. So let’s say that you become an, entrepreneur, for a certain end purpose or end game.  When you’re walking through the fire, if you can see that end then it will give you the strength in order to not chuck it in and to move forward.

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Entrepreneurs need to prioritize their mental health

You said that every, entrepreneur, should prioritize their, mental health, but not every, entrepreneur, is going to have, depression, or, bipolar disorder. However, mental health, covers a gamut of things.  So what’s your advice on that?

Scout: When I wrote the ‘Emotional Entrepreneur’, it was really not for the mentally ill. I think the beauty of the conversation about, mental illness, that it is coming to the forefront in the last few years.  When I was diagnosed 10 years ago, no one is talking about, mental illness. Now the conversation is beautifully being opened. In the conversation about, mental illness, being open, the conversation about everyone’s daily, mental health, is being opened and that’s really the people I want to talk to.

All of my messages are not for those who struggle with, mental illness, it’s for those who have, mental health, which is all of us. I think, for too long we’ve been told that if we don’t have a, mental illness, then there’s nothing we get to prioritize. When our experience here on earth is based on how we relate to our, emotions, and many times we act in spite of our, emotions, when our, higher self, knows better or our, higher self, would have had a different plan for us.

Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

Mental health is not only for people diagnosed with mental illness

So, if you’re an, entrepreneur, and you are listening and you’re like; ‘well, I’m going to go through fires, I’m going to go through ups and downs, I’m going to have to figure out whatever messed up our product or makes a client unhappy. Now, I got to figure out how to make payroll and all of those things you might as well emotionally feel safe during that process because your business is going to soar if you are emotionally sound and strong within.

Myrna: I’m glad you’re saying that, mental health, is not necessary for people that have been diagnosed with, mental illness, but it’s very important to keep your, mental health, strong.

One of the things that I love about your bio is that you talk about your prescription medication for the people that have been diagnosed with, mental illness. Can you share your journey?

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Prescription medication for mental illness

Scout: This month celebrates one year of being, psychiatry medication, free and I don’t say that to promote the stigma or to promote anyone to go off their medication. I simply say because, psychiatry medication, got me to a point where I was able to go off them and then flourish in my life. Though, there were a lot of dark moments with me and my trial and error for medication.

If anyone is listening to this, and he’s considering, psychiatry medication, for a, mental illness, diagnosis or, mental health, diagnosis, and he’s feeling ashamed around that, I really invite you to end that shame and that stigma. There are times in our lives where we need to take things to physically and mentally treat our illnesses, our bodies, our spirits and souls etc. I never felt shame around taking the, psychiatric medication.

I really invite you to not passively wait for, psychiatry medication, to come save your mental state, but to really recognize that it’s just a little boost and the rest you really have to show up for. The idea that, psychiatry medication, is going to heal you completely, for me was very helpful because I wasn’t just passively playing the victim and waiting for something else to take over me and heal me. Medication really does a very small percentage of your healing for you.

Psychiatry medication is just the launching pad to healing

Psychiatry medication, can provide that launching pad, but really get ready for yourself to show up for you. I would say to really be your own advocate in the psychiatry office, ask about the symptoms, ask about what’s coming off the medication, ask about the withdrawals, do I have to ease off for two months?

I say this because I was put on a, psychiatry medication, where I was not given the correct information about the withdrawals and it was a really traumatic experience for me. So, it’s really good to ask about the side effects.

The Emotional Entrepreneur

Myrna: Can you tell us about your book “The Emotional Entrepreneur”? You said it was not written for people that have been diagnosed specifically with, mental illness, but to help people prioritize, mental health.  I like that play on words. What do you want the readers to walk away after reading your book?

Scout: The Emotional Entrepreneur is really the emotional guidebook for, entrepreneurship. If you are someone who wants to start an agency, a podcast, a product based business, a life coaching, career etc; you might be purchasing books on how to manage clients. You might even be purchasing books on how to hit six figures, you might be purchasing books on how to close more sales, deals, how to brand your website etc, this book is the emotional part of all of that. This is going to be your guidebook towards navigating fear, combating impostor syndrome and enjoying yourself along the way.

By celebrating small wins and believing in yourself, it’s going to help you reframe your relationship to your, anxiety, as you get started. It’s going to make you understand that, entrepreneurship, and starting your own business is the biggest personal development game, and you get to be emotionally supported in that.

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Conclusion

Myrna: How can readers connect with you on social media or get a copy of your book?

Scout: You can follow me on Instagram ‘@scoutsobel’, that’s the best place to connect with me. In my bio, there are links to Scout’s Agency, my podcast and you can buy the book there. You can as well get the book on Amazon when you search for “The Emotional Entrepreneur by Scott Sobel”.

Myrna: One of my biggest takeaways about, depression, was reading the book; “The Work” by Byron Katie. I mean I have never actually heard of a, depression, like she went through.  She said that she was so depressed that she had to put herself in a halfway house, and she laid on the floor and couldn’t get up and couldn’t move until one day she decided to change her inner dialogue and change her mindset.

Thank you guys all supporting the Transform Your Mind podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes if you found this content inspirational.

Additional Resources

Understanding Mental Illness: My Bipolar Life