Self Care October 18, 2020

Dealing with depression while indie hacking

Raquel M Smith @raquelmsmith

I wanted to bring this up because it's something that I personally deal with, have been dealing with recently, and that frankly doesn't get talked about enough.

The entrepreneurship / startup community is full of tons of motivational stuff like "Just get out there and do it!" or "Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just do what needs to get done." And there are a lot of people who benefit from that kind of thing.

And then there are the people like me (and maybe you?) who, while sometimes benefiting from the motivational quips, mostly just feel like the biggest hurdle is not something I can willfully overcome.

Depression. Anxiety. Depression & anxiety in a whirling pool of doubt.

I have great self-esteem. I'm an incredibly capable person. I have a great life and family and all my basic needs are met. And yet depression still gets me down. It mostly comes in waves surrounding life events in which I feel stuck. Fortunately once I see a path forward the waves subside. But when I'm in it, man is it real.

I just wanted to put this out there, to see if there are any other makers here who feel the same and who could use a supportive community. I am here for you!

What's your story?

  1. 2

    Perhaps this doesn't apply to everyone but i can share my experience with motivation.

    Depression, not in a clinical way, or feeling stuck means i'm not doing what i want to do. Anxiety and all those negative feelings come to me when i'm in a situation i don't want to be in.

    You can push your way through it by "swallowing" down your feelings but its not sustainable.

    In contrast, when i'm doing something i believe in i enjoy the process no matter the challenges.

    My solution to this is to try and be more honest with myself.
    Do i need to be here? Do i like these people? Am i working on something i want to work on? Why am i doing this?

    1. 1

      Awesome questions to ask. I find those questions valuable but sometimes you really are stuck. I've found therapy helpful but yeah, getting out of the situation is oftentimes the best fix. Thanks for sharing your story @xyz_crypto!

  2. 2

    Don't worry, you are not alone! I have been having similar thoughts very often, but now it gets a lot better. I had to find what things bring these thoughts to me and I have tried to prevent them in thee future.

    I am same type of guy, I hate all those motivational stuff. I hate when someone is sharing all the hype on the socials when it's clear that they are just sharing the same stuff all the wannabe entrepreneurs do.

    But it was my problem I couldn't motivate myself and stay positive. Therefore I wrote down all the things that make me happy and wrote down all the things that bring my mood down. And simply left just those positive things.

    Activities that are generally positive are:

    • excercise
    • learning new stuff
    • meeting people you like
    • meeting positive people
    • going outside
    • having non-business hobby

    Glad you wrote here, it's good to talk about all of this.

    1. 1

      I wrote down all the things that make me happy

      Sounds like a really great exercise, thanks for the tip!

  3. 1

    Hey Raquel,

    This is a great post... you're lifting the lid on the 'real' feelings—something that isn't done enough.

    We're all here to build and grow, but it can be lonely, tough and a real fight of a journey.

    I had volunteered with some services that supported those who were highly distressed and wanted to bring those skills of being able to listen and empathise to the startup/founder space. Not as a mental health service, therapy or coaching, but as a 'listening and question asking' service. Giving founders, makers, builders and Indie Hackers somewhere they can go to talk.

    I also think peer support and the likes of this site provide a great support for each other.

    Wishing you well,


    1. 2

      That sounds like an awesome service! I fortunately have super supportive friends who are great at listening and asking questions so I know how valuable that can be if you don't have that.

      1. 1

        Thanks! Glad to hear that you're so well supported... it makes all the difference!

  4. 1

    I feel we should embrace our melancholy, not reject it.

    The go to response in anyone experiencing anything negative is, "I must not feel this way, what can I do to feel better."

    We really should stop doing that.

    Life is rife with tsunamis from which no man is safe.

    You would never offer motivational quips to someone who was just crushed by one.

    You don't willfully overcome a tsunami.

    You might survive. You might not.

    You wouldn't recommend such a person to "just be happy and do stuff!"


    You would offer them support, be it medical assistance or empathy.

    Some go through life never experiencing any tsunamis at all.

    Others like myself experience them young and in continued succession.

    Life's not fair.

    The pertinent solution is to accept that some waves will crush you and learn how to be with that pain.

  5. 1

    These were very helpful for me, hope it can help others:

    1. do daily meditation, not only when the wave starts. Make t a daily routine. minda is free app.
    2. Add exercises and workout to your morning routine
    3. Avoid any Facebook or LinkedIn visits
    1. 1

      I haven't been able to get into meditation but I'll see if I can give it another go :)

  6. 1

    This is definitely something I've struggled with, both in my life as a day jobber and working as an indie. These feelings were a big part of the reason I wanted to become an indie. I didn't want to get swept up anymore in the (IMHO) harmful gogogo culture of burning oneself out to "change the world".

    For me, I've come to realise there are two competing motivations behind my work:

    1. I love making things. I've always just loved the thrill of bringing a new thing into the world that didn't exist before.

    2. Fear of inadequacy. This one has taken a long time for me to realise, but this is the one that burned me out. Sometimes it's like I'm making things just to prove my worth as a person to the world. This is even trickier in indie hacking, because there isn't the easy regular paycheck as society's confirmation of "worth". I worry that a lot of the motivational material out there is really aimed at this part of people. Or perhaps it's just that people like me who are susceptible to it take it on in a more harmful way.

    When I'm in a good mindset I'm driven more by the first, I'm much more creative and I feel pretty great. But when I'm down in the dumps I find I'm driven by the fear.

    Nowadays I'm trying to increasingly surround myself with motivational material that encourages the creative spirit - for example following inspiring artists and creatives - rather than the type of material that encourages the fear.

  7. 1

    I totally feel you on the rah rah-ness of Hustle Culture - eventually I got so fed up with it I made my whole company the antithesis of all that as a community that prioritizes rest and self-care. I like to call it productivity for the rest of us, since the usual advice is so neurotypical and most people...are not that.

    The number one thing that's helped me is working on my expectations of myself, learning my limits and triggers, and building systems to avoid them.

    1. 1

      How did you make your company the antithesis of rah-rah culture? What do you do differently?

      1. 1

        It's built on the ethos of becoming more productive by resting and playing more instead of tropes like working smarter or managing time better, because Hustle Culture gets us so obsessed with work that we forget it's not the only thing that matters. Its promise is "helping you find a better balance between work, rest, and play."

Recommended Posts