Founder depression, and a meetup proposal.

As both a capital-F founder and developer, the last 12 months have been tough. I have personally been stuck in some pretty deep lows, and of the assumption that I was the only one struggling with a lot of questions about who I am, what I am doing, and whether I’m good enough to do it.

The last couple of months have been a lot better, triggered by a few things:

  • Going to the doctor: who said lots of nice things like “what you are doing sounds really hard”, “the most common thing I see in this room is depression”, “yes it looks like you have mild depression”, “here’s some practical things you can do that aren’t drugs”.
  • Speaking to an (off-duty) counsellor: possibly the most “productive” hour I have spent in a long time.
  • Writing that blog post

But the most powerful thing has been opening up to a number of different founders and developers about what I’ve been going through, and them replying with “wait, I say those things all the time too - I thought I was the only one”. The following relief of finding someone else going through the same stuff has been palpable for both of us.

A proposal

As a result of this, I am thinking of starting a meetup/support-group in Edinburgh to help founders, developers, and anyone building products share some of their personal experiences with this stuff and learn from each other.

I haven’t got it all figured out yet - so I’m looking for feedback, but here’s some rough thoughts:

  • Non-technical/business: we have plenty of technical meetups, this is a place to reflect on our selves rather than code/biz. Clearly a lot of our emotions are affected by the work we are doing - but the focus is definitely on the personal stuff.
  • Open to anyone related to running businesses/building stuff (not just founders)
  • Confidential: at the meetup: share, otherwise: shush. :)
  • Supportive, not dismissive: I think this goes without saying. None of this: “oh, sure, that’s easy, you can just fix yourself by … eating more! My problem is much more serious!”
  • Small: I’m not sure how we would manage this if the group became a run away success, but I think at least initially it would be good to try and keep the groups small as sharing this stuff is hard enough as it is.
  • Format: As a first meeting, I am thinking I would talk about some of the stuff I’ve been going through, and see if we can use that to kick-start a bit of a group discussion and take it from there.
  • When/where?: I’d like to have a first meeting soonish, but I haven’t got a venue - so if anyone has any thoughts for somewhere that’s free, I’d love to hear them.

So what do you think? If you are at all intrigued, I’d really appreciate it if you’d fill in this quick form just so I can gauge interest (and collect feedback if you have any). Thanks!