Overcoming burnout from mental health & reversing diabetes took me 2 years - Issue #49
Me looking at the window after 2 days of design sprint in a hotel room at Johor Bahru in Malaysia & also finishing the client website. I have so many to-do tasks, “Juggle-Struggle Look.”
Here’s the breakdown: Stress > Anxiety > Burnout > Pre-Diabetes > Type 2 Diabetes
My story on focusing myself on a better life:
It all started from doing hard work. Who would think doing hard work leads to all these? Back in the year, I had a few client's works to be done, datelines were back to back, I had many big projects to deal with and also dealing with some toxic connections with people. I had some struggles completing my tasks as well from web-designing, coding, video editing, graphic design, consultancy, marketing, and sales. I don’t have any breaks, I’m always on the laptop and rarely exercise. I feel like entrepreneurship is not for me anymore!
As a seasoned solo founder is great to have a team to do this all for you but to build a team is hard and something I have yet to master. I tried to build a team 3 times while building my business and hoping to get things done better so I can focus on other important things for the business. I thank a few people in the team & community who have helped me in the past in trying to build a profitable business. Now most of them either work full-time or run their own business or being self-employed people. Glad what had happened to me was to bounce back higher today to share my story.
In the past, I overcome living with sad life in 2012-2013 when I lost my late mom, dad, and brother. It was about 2-3 years I was struggling with emotions to be positive. In 2014-2017 I pick myself up and I went through a life-changing journey and started a new business after that, doing multiple things that I love to do and it was doing okay and well until something happen in 2017.
Back in late 2017, I had some challenges which I face. (here are some I can remember)
TOO MANY THINGS WERE GOING ON.
- I was broke after broke
- projects were not paying me well & I got low-balled
- My MacBook Pro laptop got thermal issues and dead
- I had to deal with some debts
- I had client small and big projects ongoing to finish
- I had to borrow a laptop
- I was involved with toxic people
- I had some really good people around me too thanks for that
- I had panic attacks because I was very stress and is hard to manage
- I had sleepless nights and at times I shut myself down by sleeping more
- I ate a lot of food in a day almost every week and I didn’t realize I was very stress
- It was lonely, is hard for me to speak to anyone about what I’m facing
- I had tons of bills to pay and it sucks to run a business and I hate what I’m doing
- I feel like giving up because I felt everything is just a waste of time.
- I try to ignore everything and focus on myself each day.
- there we also some problems with toxic people: never let things go, can't move forward, bully, intimidate, lie, create drama, play the victim, act out of fear and insecurity and so much more.
In 2017-2018, One tweet I remember that I posted. I got active on Twitter. Started to focus on myself more.
Each time I try to be positive about it and is just so difficult. By nature or in real life I’m a very energetic and positive person. So when I face this, I had panic attacks and difficulty in breathing. I don’t know what the heck was going on. Later on, I realize I was burnout, from extrovert to introvert and it was not normal for me, I don’t talk that much anymore and I just tweet my pain when I got stuck.
2018 was tough, 2019 I overcome my mental health
I did this by building a connection with people on Twitter, Slack, Telegram, Discord, and some websites I sign-up for related to my industry. I build tons of micro-communities and keep talking with people just to keep myself busy and to make sure I’m not alone in this world. This was the only way I think to make me feel better! I started making telegram groups and help more people. I don’t know why suddenly I’m doing this? I felt that that’s the only way to overcome my mental health I guess. I don’t need some Doctors, Psychiatrists, or Specialists. I just need to connect more people with the good vibe, like-minded and people who are in the same industry I’m in. I try to help as many people as I can.
I thought I was alone facing this, little did I know I met other bootstrapped founders, creative entrepreneurs, and some independent creators/makers/hackers who went through the same struggles as me. I question myself, did I just found like-minded people with a good vibe? Yes, I did. The tribe I’ve been finding to learn more about entrepreneurship and share my struggles. I felt that my journey was lack of community & support as a business owner. So I was very active on Twitter and I join some slack/telegram groups to chat and also a community on a website. I started to build more projects in public, share my learning experience with others. Day by day I get to talk to many people and it was an awesome feeling. I keep making different types of side-projects from designing, helping others, read tons of articles and try many different software products on the internet. I fell in love again with what I do. Suddenly I met so many nice people in my life but I was still having panic attacks and stress. I just watch others do things online, I give more time to myself and manage to overcome it from time to time. I pause my businesses only do little work, I take more breaks, learn more latest design and technology by upskilling my skills, build the best personal site I ever made for myself with some tweak and hack, connect more people online, travel more and meet new people in life.
2019 I got pre-diabetes and was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes
One of the weekends while I was on the laptop, I got pre-diabetes symptoms. It was a horrible feeling for that 1 week in my life.
Health Warning: I was facing all this in at once!
- Sudden Weight loss (I lost 2kg)
- Sudden thirst & can’t control (drank 4 coke bottles, 1 soda bottle & 6 cans of red-bull)
- Frequent urination (I urine more than 20x a day, yellow in colour and I hate this!)
- Sudden Fatigue (i sleep 24hrs) & (I was very hungry and ate a lot)
- Sudden Excessive Itch (On my groin area, I keep scratching and hard to stop)
- Blurred vision (i can’t see clearly on my phone/laptop, I was very sad)
- I feel numbness on my left wrist all the time it was annoying
So what I did was I rest and started intermittent fasting. I saw some helpful links online and went for screening at the clinic. https://screenforlife.sg/ for Singapore and I read tons of articles. I then decided to sign up the screening quickly on my 2nd week. Got my blood test result, it was horrible and I was afraid I could get a stroke. I ask the doctor to refer to the government polyclinic and went for other screening like diabetic foot check, eyes, ECG and did another blood test. I got my results and I was sad yet angry, I didn’t take care of my health all this while. I have a family history of chronic diseases. I’m thankful my medical bill was subsidized
From August-September 2019 I did whatever I can to change my lifestyle
- I lost weight by cooking my own healthy meals
- I shop healthier groceries by looking at the nutrition facts
- I try to eat organic food and also more greens
- I change my food to fewer carbs and more protein
- I look for gluten-free or low-gi food
- I did intermittent fasting from 8 pm-12 pm (16hrs fasting just water)
- I learn to swim better and do 10 lapses every week + do walk like 10,000 steps
- I had trouble with hypoglycemia because I had to take glipizide (blue colour pill)
- I have to prepare honey always or some sugar if I have low sugar in my blood
- Side effects like sweat, stammer, I speak and move fast, hard to control myself
- I had to do the food prep and make sure everything is in order
- I change my t-shirt size from XL to L and it motivates me
- I had to buy some fitness clothing
- I try to sleep before 11 pm every night
- I also reward myself by eating cake and some nice desserts from time to time.
- I did not strict myself but no sugar or salt but I have some nice food dressings
- Whatever I ate it is all in a portion size
- I drank a lot of warm water
There are many things I did too, best tips here:
Every 3 months of a medical check-up at the gov polyclinic.
I did whatever I can for 1 year and each time I went for my appointment the doctor advised me on based on my blood test result. Glad they cut down my medication, no more glipizide pills and now I’m only on metformin pills 2 times a day. Its been a journey but this means forever in my life. You can beat diabetes by reversing it but you still need to keep up with it. It was all well until another challenge came up.
I also had a hernia for 10 years in my left bottom groin area, I finally can go for surgery said the doctor before covid19 but due to covid19 it was postponed and I lost my diet/lifestyle momentum. Some people might think is easy but I have to think about the recovery stage too as well as I’m diabetic said the doctor, that should be aware if there is an infection if not careful. Also thinking about my work and my things to do.
There is more I want to elaborate but let’s just not just give up and keep progressing and make it better. I was recently upset about my MacBook Pro data is gone and had to fix it. Some things are unfortunate, you can read the tweet thread. Some of my important work and video files were gone. Glad the maker's community help me out quickly but everything was about 1-month plus to settle financially. I was mentally disturbed as well. I lost my momentum doing my work online too.
Due to recent Covid19 measures and regulations, it was challenging for me, the first 3 months was okay but later on all this anxiety, fear and stay home change my lifestyle. I lost my momentum and other personal things happened as well.
Thanks to all indie makers community who have supported and created an impact on my journey. Especially people on Twitter, Slack, Telegram group, producthunt.com, getmakerlog.com, indiehackers.com and many other entrepreneurs I met online. I don’t know what to do but writing this article will remind me to keep reversing and get that lifestyle right back again.
I try to be more positive by writing more articles hopefully, make some podcast, ship & launch some nice products soon! 😃 💜 🚀 I do share my progress on if you need to see a quick update on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Telegram. I can’t fit everything here on the newsletter or article posts. I suggest you follow you me on social so you can probably see me building things in public. I’m also working on multiple things, you can visit https://fajarsiddiq.com
If it wasn't because of the indie-maker community I met online on Twitter from all around the world and people from all walks of life, I would have already given up in skills, knowledge, experiences in entrepreneurship, quit tech & design and probably be basic, find a full-time 9-5 job and do nothing beneficial. Mental health & chronic disease are both combinations of a huge major problem in work-life balance. If you can fix & reverse it, you are strong enough to go through anything in life.
These are few important characteristics of an entrepreneur: grit, resilience, and resourcefulness.
Grit - passion, and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles.
Resilience - Process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors
Resourcefulness -The ability and the means to meet situations effectively by finding quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. Be open-minded, have confidence in yourself, think creatively, take action now, not later, never, never, never give up, see the glass as half full.