Depression and Living the Life of Your Dreams

I had my first major depression in 2003. I had opened the first Fresh Collective location just a few months before it hit. It started with anxiety so strong I couldn’t sleep for a couple nights.

I was crying a lot, feeling completely overwhelmed and terrified that I had made a huge mistake in opening that store.

I felt trapped and alone. Deeper in debt than I ever imagined, and so afraid I was heading for bankruptcy. And there was no way I could let anyone know how much of a loser I was.

After a few days of crying, I noticed I stopped. But I felt even worse.

Depression was horrible. It felt awful to be in my body.

Even seeing puppies didn’t help- after all, they all die eventually. I was so raw and sensitive it was hard to exist in the world.

Long hours were spent on the phone to my mom, crying about how bad I felt, until she convinced me to go see my doctor.

“You take care of your best business asset – yourself.” ~Verna Bernhardson (my awesome mom)

I sat in my doctor’s office and sobbed for 30 minutes. She prescribed me Ativan and Celexa, and got me in fast to see a therapist.

Ativan took the edge off the anxiety so I could sleep properly and got me through the days while the Celexa kicked in.

During this time, I also saw a therapist once a week, was introduced to mindfulness and meditation, dragged myself out for walks and occasional trips to the gym, and (on my mom’s dime) treated myself to weekly massages as that was one hour of feeling good that I could look forward to.

As I recovered, I remember days of feeling empty and numb, but then having glimmers of hope or happiness. I’d see something and feel a bit of joy. Or my mind would wander to an actual plan for the future that I could get excited about.

These moments felt like heaven and I worked to expand on them. Anything I could do to create them or extend them in time became my mission. If I could turn a minute of joy into three, I was getting better!

It took me about 4 months to feel like myself again, that time, and I’m truly thankful my trips to the dark side tend to be that short.

Since then, I’ve had maybe 4 bouts with depression again. And it sucks every time.

But, I have built up a resilience that I didn’t have that first time around. I know it’s not real, and it’s not going to stay. I know how to get help, how to recognize early signs and step away from the edge of the pit before I get sucked right down.

I also know more about how to plan my business so things are more predictable.

That insurmountable debt from 2003? That huge mistake?

It all turned out fine- the business grew to 3 stores and an online store. I went on to open more businesses and become a Business Coach. Turns out I wasn’t a total loser and really bad at business.

What I was though, was alone and unprepared. I didn’t know how to do a budget for the start-up so I guessed at numbers and prayed for the best.

And I didn’t have a community of people to share the journey. Biggest mistake ever.

This pain I went through is part of what fuels me as a coach. I know what it is to be an entrepreneur – especially one who is creative, sensitive and wants to make the world a better place.

Who knew that my darkest times would end up having such a purpose? I know those times taught me the most profound lessons in life.

Most of all, I learned how resilient we all are and how we never have to go it alone.

Join my free Facebook community Ladies Creative Collaboration Society.

This group is a place of support and love for whatever you’re going through. A strong community is key to living the life of your dreams and making it through with your sanity intact. Hope to see you in there!


Hi, I’m Laura-Jean, a business coach with over 20+ years of experience and a passion for helping women thrive in their businesses. 

I believe in blending strategy with passion to help you build not just a business, but a lifestyle you love. 

With a mix of practical wisdom, personalized guidance, and a big scoop of creative joy, I’m here to support you every step of the way.

Ready to unlock the potential in your business? Let’s chat.

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