In today's interview, we will hear from Jon Dulin on how to overcome depression and anxiety. Jon runs the blog Compounding Pennies.
Jon's blog is pretty unique. He started as a contributing writer. In 2014, he bought the blog. Though Jon does the bulk of the writing, he continues to work with contributing writers. These writers give the blog a variety of writing styles and viewpoints.
Here are a couple of Jon's articles that I like:
Real Estate Investing is the Absolute Best Way to Build Wealth
5 Secret Ways Advertisers Get You to Spend
Jon's story is more common than we realize. Millions of people suffer from depression. Often, they suffer in silence. Jon openly and honestly tells his story of battling and overcoming depression and the anxiety that comes with it. I hope you find as much encouragement and hope in his story as I did.
Here's Jon to tell it.
How to Overcome Depression and Anxiety
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Jon Dulin. I live outside of Philadelphia, PA. I am married to a beautiful woman and have two precious daughters. Life is great.
But it always wasn’t this great. About 18 years ago, I became depressed and hated life. At the time I would have never thought my current life as possible. But through personal development and professional help, I was able to overcome my depression and live an incredible life.
This is my story, and I am telling it in the hope that it helps others who are suffering from depression as well.
As bad as your life is right now, it can get better. I am living proof of this.
I know you’re a successful blogger now. Tell us about your career path? In addition to your blog, do you work full-time?My career started with me not being able to find a job after graduating from college. The economy was in a recession and jobs were hard to come by.
Eventually, I landed a part-time job at Circuit City working as a customer service associate. After three months working there, I landed a temporary position with Vanguard for tax season. I was answering the phones and helping investors with basic Vanguard related questions.
The temporary job ended without the option of getting hired full-time, so I was back to relying on my income from the part-time job at Circuit City.
Then two months later, I landed another temporary job with another financial services firm. This job had the option of turning into a permanent position. After five months, I was brought on as a permanent employee.
I worked for this firm for the next six years in various roles due to promotions. During this time, I quit working at Circuit City as I was interested in having my nights and weekends free. Overall, I worked for Circuit City for a little more than one year.
I eventually left the financial services firm for a couple of reasons.
The first is that I wanted to be helping people with their money. In my roles with the financial services firm, I was doing mutual fund accounting, taxes, and reporting. I wanted a position where I was more involved with the specifics of people’s financial lives.
The other reason was that the firm had changed. Management lost the vision of the company and was being driven by other factors. As the years passed, the company wasn’t the same great place it once was.
Financial services to financial planning
My next job was with a high net worth financial planning firm. It was a great change of scenery and pace from my previous job.
I worked there for three years when I was laid off. The layoff was a surprise, but I was in a transition at the time. My current duties were client facing, and I wanted to work on building plans more.
Unfortunately, the option to transition wasn’t there, so I was let go.
During my time with this firm, I was working on a personal finance website, which I enjoyed writing for and was making some income from.
I had to make the decision to either look for another traditional job or try to turn my website into a full-time income.
Thanks to saving money and no longer being in debt, I had a financial cushion that allowed me to try full-time blogging for six months.
It has been five years now, and I’ve never looked back.
The past five years have been great. I’ve gotten married, moved and have a 2-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old daughter.
Deciding to work for myself was one of the best decisions I ever made.
After reading a couple of my interviews on overcoming adversity, you reached out to me about a struggle you had. Please share that with us.
As I mentioned, after college I couldn’t find a job. When I graduated, I had this idea in my head that I was going to move back to my hometown and land a high paying job.
From there, I would enter into the next chapter of my life, which was finding a partner and starting a family.
But in 2001 the economy went into recession and finding a job was hard. I was sending out resumes every week, only to get replies of “thanks but no thanks”.
This led me to get depressed. Only I wasn’t aware of it. I just thought I was sad because I couldn’t find a job.
With my free time, I ended up at the mall to window shop. This window shopping slowly turned into actual shopping, and I began to buy new clothes and electronics.
Buying things made me feel good and helped me to forget about not being able to land a job. It also allowed me to live in the fantasy that I had a job and I was able to buy things and enjoy life.
But without a real job, my spending habits quickly led me into credit card debt. This further pushed me into a depressed state.
I went to college for finance, and my friends and family all looked to me for answers with their finance-related questions. I felt like a fraud answering them since I couldn’t even keep my finances straight.
Credit card debtUnfortunately, the good feelings I got from buying stuff was strong, and I kept going. I eventually maxed out my credit card and opened up a second card.
I lied to myself saying this was a way to save money. The new card offered a 0% balance transfer offer, so I was going to save money on interest.
But not long after transferring the balance, I started spending on my original card. A few months later, the scenario repeated.
I opened another card for a 0% balance transfer and ended up spending on the original card all over again.
Then one day I was at the mall looking at a jacket to buy. The proverbial light bulb went off and I asked myself why I was buying another jacket when I had a few at home.
I put the jacket back and did a lot of thinking on the drive home. It was during this drive that I admitted to myself I was unhappy and wasn’t enjoying life anymore.
I decided to get professional help. It was around this time I finally landed full-time work and I began the slow process of paying off my debt.
How did this affect your life? Did you feel embarrassed? Shame? Did you isolate yourself?
I was incredibly embarrassed. Again, everyone I knew came to me about personal finance questions. I hated when they would ask me questions because it would force me to think about my debt.
It hurt too because I love talking about personal finance so much and now I was avoiding it at all costs.
I also hated looking at the mail. When you are in debt and not in a good place emotionally, it feels like credit card bills come every other day.
During this time, I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom watching TV and movies. I disengaged from my friends and family.
Basically, if I wasn’t at the mall buying things, I was alone in my room. I remember going to bed at 8 pm and not getting up until noon because when I was asleep, I didn’t have to think about my life.
Do you still struggle with depression? If so, how do you deal with it? If not, how did you overcome it?I no longer struggle with depression. Going to therapy was a great decision. I learned a lot of things about myself and was able to establish a healthy outlook for my life.
Therapy gave me the tools to identify when I might be going into the downward spiral and the resources to stop the slide.
Specifically, I write a journal every night about my day and reflect on the previous days before writing. If I see a negative trend, I know to address whatever issue is happening in my life.
I also look for the positive in all situations. The more I focus on the positive things in life, the happier I am. Bad things still happen, but I always take the time to find the good. This is tough at first, but it gets easier with time.
So easy in fact, that you will be able to do this instinctively. Note that this isn’t ignoring the negative and thinking everything in life is sunshine and rainbows. But by finding the good in the bad, you limit negative events that affect your thoughts and your mood.
Next, I surround myself with friends and family. I enjoy quality time with these people and the good times and laughter help to keep me happy.
Finally, I have a short video on my phone. It makes me smile and laugh every time I see it. When I get sad about something, I pull out my phone and watch this video to make me laugh and forget about my issue.
Sometimes I only need to watch it once. Sometimes I have to watch it 10 times. But I watch it until I laugh. This gets me into a positive mindset, and I can address the issue I am facing while in a better state of mind.
What encouragement would you give to others dealing with depression?
Depression is a serious thing, and many times you won’t realize you are depressed. I just thought I was unhappy, but I was more than simply unhappy.
Isolating myself from everyone and only looking forward to sleeping were red flags waving in my face. But when you are in that state, there isn’t any number of red flags that will alert you.
Too many times when someone is depressed, they have blinders on and only see life in a certain way.
I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be depressed to get professional help. If you think you are unhappy, take the first step and talk to someone just in case it is more serious than you think.
Getting professional help isn’t something to be ashamed of. I loved going to therapy. It allowed me to talk to someone I trusted with zero worries about the topic or details.
As much as you can talk to friends and family, you still feel there is some level of judgment. With a therapist, you don’t have to worry about this at all.
Finally, if you are thinking of suicide, know that this isn’t the solution. Life is amazing and beautiful. You just need to get out of the fog of depression and back into the reality of life.
With professional help, you can do this. It won’t be overnight, but you will make progress and the journey is worth every moment.
And no matter how bad your life is currently, know that with help it will get better. And in most cases, better than you imagine it could ever be.
Thank you, Jon, for sharing your story so openly and honestly. Like everyone I've interviewed for this series, I know the reason you told it was to offer hope and encouragement to others. Rest assured, you did that.
I too have battled depression for years. I too have been in therapy many times over the years. Depression keeps those who suffer in the dark. For me, therapy along with anti-depressant medication allow me to live a normal, healthy life. I would offer the same encouragement as Jon for anyone who thinks they might be depressed. Don't be afraid to reach out for professional help. Depression is an illness just like any other. It isn't a sign of weakness or lacking. It's very treatable and manageable for most people.
Don't suffer in silence. Reach out for help as both Jon, I and thousands of others have done. Your best life is waiting for you.
Now it's your turn. Have you overcome depression in life? Did you find encouragement in Jon's story? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
Fred started the blog Money with a Purpose in October 2017. The blog focused on three primary areas: Personal Finance, Overcoming Adversity, and Lifestyle. During his time at Money with a Purpose, he was quoted in Forbes, USA Today and appeared in Money Magazine, MarketWatch, The Good Men Project, Thrive Global and many other publications.
In April 2019, Fred, along with two other partners, acquired The Money Mix website. To focus his time and energy where he could be the most productive, Fred recently merged Money with a Purpose with The Money Mix. You can now find all of his great content right here on The Money Mix, along with content from some of the brightest minds in personal finance.