Living With And Managing Depression And Anxiety In The Midst Of Owning A Small Business

Just over thirteen years ago, I really didn’t consider working in the capacity of an Entrepreneur, nor did I believe that owning a small business was my destiny. If I was going to take a huge leap into this thing called Entrepreneurship, I quickly decided to reinvent myself! After all, my plan was to launch Powerful Play Experiences, Positive Workplace Mental Health… For Teams! as a bonified business.

At that particular time, I was employed in the field of career & employment training, helping Albertans to find the work they love. I was a workshop facilitator, delivering workshops on career planning, work search strategies, and finding the right post-secondary education. I eventually took some time off to contemplate my next move. I wanted to do something that was fun, inspiring and driven by creativity. I decided to start my own business, Powerful Play Experiences, based on something that inspired me in my college and university years – Cooperative Play.

With the amazing support from the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS), I launched my business with the intention of helping individuals and teams create positive change while having fun doing it. Very quickly, my clients began describing me as “The Play Guy” who facilitates workshops based on Cooperative Play. Two years later, this changed, and my clients then described me as “The Fun at Work Guy” who inspires workplace teams to have more fun at work.

Today, fully engaged with my business for just over 13 years now, fun at work continues to inspire all who play with me, but my business has evolved and so have my intentions. I’m all about driving home the message that Positive Workplace Mental Health For Teams is actually quite easy to attain at work, but when, and only when Leaders take that bold step to commit to more fun at work and happier & engaged teams!!

Navigating my life as an Entrepreneur has never been a simple journey, nor a straight-line journey from point A to point B. Yes, there exists 4 generations of mental illness in my immediate and extended family. Yes, I am very open to sharing with you my story of living with and managing depression and anxiety.

I’m also very open to sharing with you my conviction in calling myself a Mental Health Champion. Quite recently, a colleague of mine in the Field of Career Development Facebooked me. Cindy, who also lives with and manages depression and anxiety, wrote a most poignant definition of Mental Health Champion:

“Defining the Mental Health Champion! We face adversity. We find ways to deal with it. We use the support we have around us. We speak our truth when things don’t go well. We function in the wacky world of work where disappointments can be inevitable. We move on. We validate our feelings. We look for ways to maintain our daily personal wellness. Yes, We are GREAT! We are Our Own Designated Survivors”!

Poignant, to say the least!

If there’s one thing that has been absolutely certain during my crazy ride as an Entrepreneur, it’s that my life has changed and that my life will keep on changing. Mental illness has impacted both my work life and my personal life. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that throughout my journey as an Entrepreneur and owner of a small business that I have often found myself overwhelmed, stressed or challenged by the pressures to make sure Powerful Play Experiences IS a successful business.

A recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association regarding the mental health and well-being of Canada’s Entrepreneurs, concluded that 62% of business owners feel depressed at least once a week. Nearly half of the respondents, 42%, said that mental health issues interfere with their ability to work. To learn more about this recent study: link.

But through it all, I continue to surround myself with like-spirited people. People just like Cindy. People who “get it”! People who are very close and dear to me and fully aware of my daily ongoing mental and emotional health challenges.

When I consider the demands and priorities that I need to address daily, as a small business owner, it’s quite common for me to ask myself the following, all important questions:

“How am I doing today with giving full attention and energy to be the most positive and enthusiastic person I know?”

“What am I doing to be the very best Mental Health Champion for ME?”

I am very proud of what I have achieved here and what I will continue to achieve as an Entrepreneur. I’ve also had to learn and get comfortable with the simple act of talking about my depression and anxiety and reaching out for help. My bigger goal? To be a role model for men everywhere, even men reading this article who really need to get comfortable with talking about their daily mental health to get the help and support they need.

Most significantly, I continue to trust in this journey and continue to follow my heart. Clients often say to me, “Where do you get your infectious energy and enthusiasm?” I receive this question with a heartfelt humbleness and a smile on my face while my inside voice says, “Looks like I’m giving full attention and energy to be the most positive and enthusiastic person I know”!

And when it’s appropriate, in a situation like that, I sometimes launch into a short story about living with and managing depression and anxiety. People are clearly surprised to learn that the business owner of Powerful Play Experiences, the Workshop Facilitator who brought infectious energy and enthusiasm to their workshop, is also the guy talking about mental illness. I do have fun with what seems like a contradiction for people. So, I talk about wanting to shatter people’s perceptions of what mental illness looks like, with the hope that this shifts people’s thinking about the stigma attached to mental illness.

And finally, how touched I was last week when I received an email from Cindy:

You do amaze me with your amazing marketing skills and how you keep pushing forward! You are truly a role model and great supporter of all those who suffer from mental health disorders.”

Thanks Cindy!!

Thank You Everyone for reading this article.

About the Author

Robert Manolson, BA, CCDP
Certified Career Development Professional
Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences, Positive Workplace Mental Health…For Teams
Leading Fun At Work & Team Engagement Expert
Mental Health Champion
Starting Conversations When Others Won’t


As Robert heads into his 13th year of delivering Powerful Play Experiences Workshops, he continues to challenge Leaders at all levels in today’s always busy, always stressful world of work.


Never, ever, never doubt the impact of Fun At Work and Building a Culture of Highly Engaged & Happy Teams.

It’s the #1 Strategy to shift everyone’s mindset and shift their energy to a much better place and a much healthier place of Mental Health…At Work!

Be proactive and be mindful to the value of Fun At Work as a strategy for positive workplace mental health. Lead from a position of courage to do things a bit differently. Be the most positive and enthusiastic person you know as you raise fun levels each day and every day.

Consistently demonstrate your vigorous commitment to building a workplace culture that permeates Highly Engaged & Happy Teams! Appreciate all of the positive changes that will take place at your workplace but with an authenticity and kindness that declares to everyone, “You Matter!”

THIS is Positive Workplace Mental Health…For Teams!”

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