Depression and Anxiety Four Years Later

Depression and Anxiety Four Years Later

NOTE: This was originally published May 22, 2014, on Insightful Accountant, but I’ve updated it to reflect unwanted punctuation and title edits, and update on what the state of my depression and anxiety four years later.

Here I am, writing about depression and anxiety four years after my first article on the topic was originally published. I’m still having the same discussions and personal struggles with depression and anxiety. While I know there are a bunch of blog posts and articles being written about this recently, I haven’t seen many in the accounting space. Frankly, I don’t think we can talk about it enough.

Depression. Anxiety. Historically most people haven’t been too comfortable talking about either. In fact, when I first wrote this piece, I asked no less than 7 other fellow accounting professionals who I knew at that time were either currently suffering or have in the past with these issues if they’d let me quote them in this article, and only one was comfortable enough to say yes.

This time, I put a call out to see if anyone would be interested in sharing their experiences and the result was even lower. Only 2 people were willing to share, and here’s the story from the first one; she asked to remain anonymous:

Screen Shot 2018 06 14 at 1.43.48 PM

I get it – I totally get it. Many people still perceive depression as something you can just “get over”. Or as a sign of weakness. Or… whatever. In the accounting industry, I think many  are worried that our clients won’t have the same confidence in us if they know we have these sort of struggles. Or worse – they won’t trust us with their accounting needs.  It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, right? Some people still dismiss depression, or don’t want to talk about it. Luckily, that is FINALLY changing. I’m seeing more people sharing their stories on social media, and the supportive response from complete strangers fills my heart. The conversation is shifting and it’s about damn time.

The second person I spoke to was Amanda Hinzmann. Here’s her story:

Screen Shot 2018 06 14 at 1.46.59 PM

I recently read one of the most accurate descriptions of depression: “Depression is a thief. It sneaks into your heart and steals from you your passion: not only your power to conjure enthusiasm but also those exact things that once, that maybe all your life, excited you.”

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about how it can be hard for me to find the time to get in a bike ride every day. While I was talking to some colleagues, I mentioned that for me, finding that time isn’t about looking good in my favorite pair of jeans – it’s about my mental health. Getting on that bike or going for a hike in the woods as often as I can is a crucial part of the way I treat my anxiety and depression.

Depression and anxiety run in my family.  I’d never experienced either until after our daughter was born in 2002. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a serious case of postpartum depression. It wasn’t until our son was born in January of 2009, and I was finally diagnosed with PPD the following summer that I realized I’d also had it with our daughter.

After our son was born, it took me a while to recognize that something was wrong, even though the signs were there all along. One major sign was that I would panic if I couldn’t get to my breast pump every two hours to pump milk for him  – even though he took a bottle of formula or milk – he didn’t care, he just wanted to eat! Another sign was that I wouldn’t carry him in my arms over concrete – I would only carry him in his car seat to take him to the car or in a baby wrap when I had to go in the basement, because I was afraid I would drop him. Let me repeat that: I was afraid I would drop him. I’ve never dropped a baby – mine or anyone else’s – but I was 100% positive that I would drop him each and every time I stepped foot on concrete. The most fucked up, irrational, anxiety-is-in-control-of-my-brain part of this? WE HAD HARDWOOD FLOORS EVERYWHERE ELSE, so dropping him anywhere else in the house would have been just as catastrophic.

Then there was the utter pit of despair I fell into when I thought I might not pass my QuickBooks Desktop Advanced Certification Exam. Because my go-to defense mechanism is humor, I make jokes now about how it made me cry because it was a difficult exam, but the reality was that more than once during the test I broke down sobbing. I mean unable to function, couldn’t catch my breath sobbing. Not just because of the exam, but because my brain was telling me that if I didn’t pass, I would lose all my clients, my business would fail, and my family would end up living in a van down by the river.

The final straw – or straws, I should say, was when my son started daycare; I would have these debilitating anxiety attacks if I wasn’t at least in my car to go pick him by 3pm, if not already there by then. For the record – that time deadline came from nowhere. There was no reason that I was required to get him at that specific time. Our daughter got out of school at 4pm, and I could pick him up either before her, or after. It didn’t really matter. But because of my depression and anxiety my brain told me that it did matter, and it was crippling.

I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t focus. I was forgetting to finish stuff for work and then remembering at 3am – which meant getting up and working in the middle of the night. With a new baby and minimal sleep, I struggled to keep myself and my business together.

I was plagued with self doubt, and had no motivation. I had mysterious physical aches that made it so that I was barely able to get out of bed. When I look back at my year over year P&L,2009 has the lowest numbers in the all the years I’ve had my business. It wasn’t hard just because I had a new baby. I had plenty of friends, family and a fabulous daycare to help with him. It was hard because of the depression and anxiety. I wasn’t working as fast as I normally do, I had to check my work more often, I was struggling to make basic business decisions, and didn’t have the motivation to go out and get new clients. It was completely overwhelming.

depression and anxiety

I finally went to the doctor and explained what had been going on, and we decided, at the time, to try Wellbutrin and therapy. We tried a low dose, and chose Wellbutrin specifically  because it had the least amount of side effects. Within a week, I remember texting my husband and telling him: “I love these meds. This must be how normal people’s brains work.”

After just a few weeks, I noticed the difference. Better concentration, the anxiety attacks were dwindling, I had more motivation and the therapy was giving me the tools to deal with the attacks when they did happen and to recognize and avoid triggers. I was more efficient at work, seeking out new clients, looking at streamlining the processes I had in place, and rewrote the ongoing five year plan I had for Kildal Services LLC.

My doctor had mentioned that because of my family history, I would most likely be on some sort of medication for the rest of my life, but at 36, I wasn’t really ready for that as an option. Don’t get me wrong – if that’s what it takes, then I’m a firm believer in Better Living Through Chemicals. However, in 2012, I approached my doctor and my therapist and asked what we could do to start weaning me off the medication. After much debate and research, we decided on a plan that involved drastically changing how and what I eat, adding some amino acid supplements and rigorous physical activity, and the key, we decided, was that it had to be something I LOVED. There were some false starts – like when I hired a personal trainer and didn’t enjoy or really benefit from it, but I finally found a routine works for me, and that just getting on a bike and going one thing that really helps.

Depression and anxiety fours years later

When I first wrote this, I had been off meds for about a year. Things have changed in the 4 years since then. I had to have a couple major surgeries in 2015 & 2016 that required a bit more recovery time than expected, and after a few years of no medication, my doctor and I decided that I should take something to help me sleep. The combination of all these factors resulted in a perfect storm – the anxiety was pretty much under control, but since I couldn’t exercise as much as I wanted or needed to, I ended up gaining weight. Combining  that with some new found food allergies and my depression sidled right up beside me again, and like the thief that it is, it slowly stole my motivation, enthusiasm, curiosity and joy. You’ll notice that this is the first post here on in months… and that sneaky thief is the reason.

We’re currently working towards finding that sweet spot that many of us with anxiety and depression take so long to find: what prescription (or combination of prescriptions), combined with therapy, exercise and diet will help reduce my symptoms, and offer the least amount of side effects?

Back in 2014 I wrote: “I try to ride 8 -12 miles every day, but that doesn’t always happen. I rarely have anxiety attacks, I’m probably happier and healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I can, however, tell when I haven’t been on a bike in a few days – less focus, I’m jumpy, I snap at my kids more and slack off from work – I can literally feel myself sliding down that slippery slope. All of that doesn’t mean I won’t someday be taking Wellbutrin, or something else. I’m pretty sure that I will.” The difference with my depression and anxiety four years later is that I think I’m worse at recognizing it. With all of the recent suicides in the news, I’m seeing a lot of “ask for help” advice. The problem is that sometimes it’s hard to even recognize that we need help, let alone have the energy to ask for it.

It’s always a good time to talk about mental health. If you know someone that suffers from it, check in with them, and make sure you have contact information for other people that are close to them. I’m lucky as hell and so grateful to have a best friend that checks in on me whenever he sees me sliding down that slippery slope – and he’s not afraid to reach out to one of my sisters on Facebook or text my husband to give them an alert.

I’m not sharing all of this with you because I think everyone should exercise to get off meds – or that everyone should be ON meds – that’s missing the point. I’m sharing this because I think depression is a common issue that makes people squeamish to talk about and I wish it didn’t. I’m sharing this because I’m hoping that if you see parts of yourself in my story and the stories that others were willing to share with me, that you’ll take the first steps to seek out someone to ask for help.

The Club Penguin Shut Down Helped Me Put Things Into Perspective

The Club Penguin Shut Down Helped Me Put Things Into Perspective

Yesterday was the day. The day of the Club Penguin shut down. Expected for weeks, possibly even months, it still was a rough day at our house. Our almost 15 year old daughter has had her account for nearly 10 years, and our 8 year old son has had his for nearly half of his life. Because of their age difference, it was one of the few things they two of them still do together.

It was also the day that I let go a well loved member of the Kildal Services team.

 My son took the Club Penguin shut down the hardest.


As I was talking to him, I mentioned that he didn’t really play it all that often any more; he replied that it was the first game he’d ever played and “what got him into video games.”

When I brought up that he’d had weeks, months even, to prepare for this day, he told me: “I know, but TODAY is the day that it happens. It’s not any easier because I knew.”

I couldn’t help but think about the parallels the Club Penguin shut down had to my situation. The person I let go got me “into” aspects of my business I wouldn’t have without that relationship. I’ve known for weeks, even months, that the working relationship was nearing it’s end.

After we’d recorded his last session before Club Penguin shut down forever at midnight, and grabbed some screen shots of my daughter’s house, I reminded them both that now we’ll always have those memories.

After the kids went to bed, I started thinking about how hard it is to let things and people we care about go; how each time we do, the choices we make about how to handle it and how we carry that hurt become pieces of the people we are.

This morning, I made a list of the valuable lessons I learned from that team member – both about my business and about myself – so that I can keep those memories, too.


9.5 Things This Successful ProAdvisor Does Every Day. Sort of.

9.5 Things This Successful ProAdvisor Does Every Day. Sort of.

Ever read those articles? You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones titled something like “47 Things More Successful People Do Before You’ve Hit Your Snooze Button for the Third Time”. Or, you know, something like that.

I had sort of crappy day the other day, and was in a rather pissy mood and was not making things better by reading one after the other of what successful business owners do every damn day. As I read each list, I thought: “Nope. Don’t do that. Also? Not that. Aaaand I’ve never done that.”

I decided to write my own list of things that I sometimes do, yet still manage to be rather successful.


Here it is:

  1. Forget to take a shower until 2p, if I remember at all
  2. Eat what’s left on one of my kids’ plates for dinner
  3. Don’t get all of my work done because I get too caught up in that one Law & Order where Stabler loses his temper
  4. Stay up WAY too late, setting up goodies in Neko Atsume to lure Lady Meow Meow to visit
  5. Check email every 3 minutes, because I can’t focus

I got this here.

  1. Bitch about having to wake up in the morning, and then ask my husband if we can just lay around all day
  2. Get seriously jealous of my cats when I see them laying around all day
  3. Feel an enormous sense of satisfaction as I cross off things on my To Do list at the end of the day…  And then add them to tomorrow’s To Do list
  4. Send at least 3 selfies throughout the day, of whatever I’m doing at that moment, to my friend Richard
  5. Sorry… I got sucked into another episode of Law & Order, I can’t remember number 10… Maybe something about using QuickBooks Online?

My point here is the one I try to remind everyone when they get down on themselves about not being as productive as they think they should be every waking minute.

On occasion, I consider getting nothing done a very successful day.


It’s important to have goals, and to bust your ass to reach them. It’s important to be a successful business owner, because otherwise, what’s the point? But sometimes? It’s also important to not be productive every second of every day, and just eat ice cream* for lunch, standing in the middle of your kitchen. 

*Gelato can also be defined here as a very successful standing-in-your-kitchen lunch.

10 NEW Ideas Every Day? Seriously?

10 NEW Ideas Every Day? Seriously?

Last month, I ran across this article: “24 daily habits that will make you smarter“, and I since I ask my husband at least once a week if he remembers when I used be smart*, back before we had kids, I thought I’d try it.

I wasn’t sure if the article was saying that I needed to do ALL 24 of these things every day, or just a few, so I decided to do what I do and just go all in and do them all.

Or, you know, try to… So here’s how it went.

1. Come up with 10 new ideas every day. Really? REALLY? Do you have any idea how hard this is to do EVERY SINGLE DAY? With 2 kids, a rental property to maintain, a household to manage, 2 businesses to run… Man. I have a LOT of shit going on, okay? By the 3rd day, my “new ideas” were centered around how I could incorporate my kids’ Snackeez in dinner prep.


Ten new ideas. New.

2. Follow your questions. Which questions should I follow?  The one I ask myself 4000 times a day: “Where did I leave my phone?” or the ones I ask my kids: “How many times do I have to tell you guys to throw away your mini muffin wrappers/not to eat ice cream for lunch when I’m doing a webinar/flush the toilet when you’re done?” And do I really want to see where they take me, if I do follow them?

3. Play devil’s advocate. I think almost every person that knows me would encourage me to NOT do this on a daily basis. That being said, oh hells yes, I upped my game on this. Pretty sure I’m approaching genius levels because of it.


See what I’m saying? I PAID to have this photo taken.

4. Read a chapter in a book.  I have a hard time reading just a chapter. My books are my trophies, and I’ve been known to read a book in day and can often be heard saying: “Just let me finish this chapter and then I’ll make dinner/come to bed/take you to school/insert whatever other important thing someone is asking me to do here.” Right now I’m reading this, just some light, fun summer reading!

5. Watch educational videos instead of TV. Law and Order counts as educational, right?

6. Read the newspaper. Believe it or not, I love reading the paper. We recently let our newspaper (yes! real paper, delivered to our house) subscription lapse and have been reading online. I sort of miss getting the paper, but I’m finding I’m reading a wider variety of news sources now that we don’t get it. But I won’t give up real books. You can’t make me.

7. Check in with your favorite knowledge sources. I do this via social media and a fair amount of texting/instant messaging. Quite a few of them are via Twitter and some other online forums, but I find that working from home, this is one way to also stay in touch with other life forms besides my cats and my kids 🙂

8. Share what you learn with other people. Considering it’s summer vacation for my kids, and they’re the “other people” I spend most of my time with, I try to do this every day. I’ll just say, it’s super awesome to be completely ignored

9. Apply what you learn. Well, what’s the point in learning something, if you’re not going to DO anything with it??

10. Write an “I did” list. I didn’t write the list; I did it this way.

11. Start a “Stop Doing” list. I did not do this one time. Not once. I thought it was a horrible idea. See #10.

12. Write down what you learn. Well, duh. If I don’t write it down, then I forget that shit approximately 11 seconds after I learn it.

13. Stimulate your mind. This I found to be very generic.  Isn’t that just… life?

14. Take online courses. Does teaching them count?

15. Talk to someone you find interesting. I tend to find most people are interesting in some way, if you just shut up for a few minutes and listen to what they have to say.

16. Subscribe to feeds of interesting information. This one was easy.  Medium is fun, Product Hunt usually has a few cool things. I like to read The Next Web, find that Refinery29 can be a delightful timesuck, and I’m a huge reddit lurker.

17. Play “smart” games. I love board games. We love some of the games from when I was little, Stay Alive is a big favorite here. And I just bought this, as politically incorrect and unsmart as it is, it cracks me up every time – my kids, notsomuch. Words With Friends is smart, right?. Peggle probably doesn’t count. I also play 2048, I’m not sure if it’s smart, but holy f**kballs, it’s addicting and if you just downloaded it, you’re welcome and I’m sorry.

18. Use a word-of-the-day app. I’m calling it: Words With Friends has a word of the day, so I get to cross this off my list.

19. Do something scary. I didn’t do this EVERY day, but I’ve done it once a week for the last 4 weeks. I launched my training program. I’ve laid open how we run Kildal Services to train my StacyKAcademy attendees on our tools and processes. Terrifying.

20. Explore new areas. New areas of what? My basement? My psyche? I did both, and I’m cool on exploring both for a while, thankyouverymuch.

21. Hang out with people who are smarter than you. I’ve been doing this all summer. I happen to think both my kids are far more intelligent than I am, and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch how their minds work.

22. Set aside some time to do nothing. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

23. Adopt a productive hobby you can practice on a daily basis. My hobby this summer has been perfecting the homemade slip and slide.


This is v2. The final version is reusable and has shower curtain grommets so the stakes don’t rip the plastic.

It’s killing our grass, which is bumming out my husband.

dead grass

According my 13 year old, the dead grass, visible from space was “Totally worth it.” I’m pretty sure that 30 Helens agree**.

24. Exercise and eat a healthy diet. This, I do not to be smarter, but because I’m almost 41 and I have no freaking choice. I feel like I’m dying if I eat anything that is remotely unhealthy and if I don’t exercise, I sort of start to lose my mind. #goodtimes

So there you go. I found some of this ridiculous, some of it helpful, some of fun. Mostly, there’s just no way to do ALL 24 of these every day. I think picking a few is a good plan to create some balance, but as for getting smarter? I’m going to say not one bit. I still lose my phone 4000 times a day, and yesterday, I told my niece: “I’ll leave the booster seat here, so you can bring Arik home.”

Then I immediately walked out the door and did not leave the damned booster seat. It took all of 7 seconds for me to forget to do that. So, there’s that.


*It’s true, I SWEAR, I was really smart. And I use to totally remember… stuff.
**That’s a Kids in the Hall reference.
Sometimes, it’s the simple ideas that take the most practice

Sometimes, it’s the simple ideas that take the most practice

A few weeks ago, I was out in the woods, listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, and the interview was with Hank Azaria. He was talking about something his psychiatrist taught him – the Principle of Validation.

As someone that has historically tended to immediately finish a webinar, or a speaking engagement – or just any regular day – and just focus on all the things that I totally fucked up and then obsess for days about all of those things, I instantly fell in love with this idea.

It’s ridiculously simple.

First: acknowledge yourself for the good things you did. Not just something like “I did that batch reclassify demo really well”  but also acknowledge the fact that you even did it, that you’re doing something. You’re out there trying to make things better for people somehow. (And yeah, it’s okay to be making money while you’re doing that.)

Then there’s the Principle of Correction. You take a little bit of time, to go over the stuff you screwed up; you get to review (relive?) them no more than 3 times, then imagine how you’ll do better the next time.

StacyK 085bwAnd then that’s it. You move on to the next thing in your life.

Holy shitballs… this takes practice. Lots of practice.

I tell my coaching clients to start using the things I teach them using baby steps. Start by using the client email format with all your current clients. Use the new engagement letter to renew an existing client. For the next implement the QuickReview™ process. Eventually you have this great system that all works together.

That’s what I decided to do with the Principle of Validation. Baby steps. I started with something simple, and something I know is not one of my strongest points: doing a prospect call back.

The next time I had to do a call with a prospective client, after I hung up, I applauded myself to just doing it – for not procrastinating. Then I went through the things that went well with the call: how I was able to clearly explain how our QuickReview™ process works, why we do it with each customer, taking great notes. Last, I went over the parts that I could improve on: not interrupting, setting more time aside for the call.

Then I let it go. I did the follow up with the client, and I found the next client call was just that much better, because I’d taken the time to do this.

Now, a few weeks into this, I don’t use this process for every little thing in my personal and professional life. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing it at the end of the day, after my kids are in bed, and my day is winding down. I use it after specific events, like webinars or live training events.

It’s to the point now where I almost don’t even realize that I’m doing it. It’s a habit, like brushing my teeth before I go to bed.

Such a simple little thing that helps me recognize that I may have made mistakes – which is absolutely okay – but that I can’t change what has happened, I can only change my behavior in the future.

More important – it helps me recognize that I kicked ass at more stuff than I didn’t.


Innovation (noun): something new or different introduced

Innovation. I’ve been hearing this word so much lately. From Sesame Street to Intuit to an article on CNN, it seems to be all everywhere.

I’ve been planning on writing this post about my experience at Intuit’s Innovation Catalyst event last month at their Mountain View, California headquarters – what I call “The Mothership”, but kids, work, other writing assignments and life in general just got in the way.

But then I read that CNN article, and one little comment really stuck in brain. I mean, stuck – to the point that I couldn’t finish the article because the mindset behind it bothered me so much.

“…customer-service representatives who aren’t going to be driving innovation at the company anyway.”

Who can say where innovation will come from? Doesn’t It makes sense that the most public facing employees have the greatest insight into the next big thing that will wow customers? Since they’re the ones interacting with them every day?

I read this Harvard Business Review article right after I was invited to Intuit’s Catalyst, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical. It sounded a bit like a bunch of corporate obscuration.  However, when I got to Intuit, I was really surprised at how completely fascinating I ended up finding the experience.

To get details of the process, I recommend checking out The Design for Delight Series on the Intuit Network.

You can also see an example by checking out this video, featuring our group (including Brandon Cotter of ZenCash and Dawn Brolin) from our day at Intuit:


Our task was to encourage play and physical activity among Intuit employees to promote a healthier lifestyle. We went from talking about scheduling basketball tournaments to coming up with a simple solution that could be very easily implemented at ANY company: putting rugs/carpets in with a hopscotch board drawn on them. Just that little bit of old school play at random times during the day would get them moving physically and make them just that much happier – and ultimately a little healthier.

I can’t remember whom it was that suggested we offer hopscotch, and it doesn’t matter. Which really is my point, and the reason that comment bothered me so much. What if most of us in the group had dismissed some of the others? Automatically assumed that their ideas wouldn’t be valid?

My experience at the Intuit Catalyst proved that anyone can have a great idea – you just need to follow some simple rules: everyone is a designer, be present, everyone has an equal voice, work as team and most importantly: share what you learn. Even the muppets that live on Sesame Street know this stuff 🙂

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