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Erik Trautman

Technical entrepreneurship, business strategy and product development

Xkcd philosophy (1)

Startup Depression and the Search for Meaning

TLDR: I actually expected to get depressed, it still surprised me when it finally happened and I'm rather suspicious of its apparent resolution.

A few weeks ago, I couldn't focus, get stuff done, or even remember simple things. Work felt purposeless. Relationships seemed shallow and fleeting. I couldn't get more than nominally excited about things I'd normally jump to do. I felt like a ship drifting without an anchor, unable to latch onto anything for stability despite the supposed familiarity of the surrounding landmarks. All the usual ways I might find comfort -- leaning on community, taking pleasure in the challenge of work, experiencing the wonder of the outdoors -- were bereft of their power.

It sucked and it had been building for months.

For the last couple of years, I've kept a wary eye on my mental health. You probably know that I'm an incessantly optimistic ball of energy, particularly when you're still groggy from lack of coffee in the morning. I have a high natural frequency and, for the last several years, I've chased the high-energy thrill of starting a business with reckless abandon. At the same time, I've also been keenly aware of the phenomenon of "Startup Depression". I've seen a number of friends spiral, sometimes for many months, through deep bouts of depression that seem to counterbalance their otherwise ebullient energy.

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