The stress of losing everything can break you.

Hitting rock bottom. Crash and burn. Down and out. Dead in the water. Up in smoke. Hitting the skids. In dire straits. There are many ways of saying you find yourself in stormy seas. No matter the severity of the storm, it could bring your entire world crashing down.

It happens so fast that it is practically unavoidable. Let’s say a mountain of debt arrives where once there had been a money-tree sprouting bills. Any business man will know that a couple of bad decisions can quickly lead to financial ruin.

And it doesn’t need to be finances that dispatches the depression. It can be a rancorous divorce, a lengthy legal battle with in-laws, retrenchment or unemployment, a bad business deal, an online scam, a dreaded disease, or an unexpected death in the family.

A meltdown comes at you like a freight train and always catches you off-guard. Things spiral out of control. Every effort to stop it, simply makes it worse. While you run to catch up, you damage trust relationships with mates, colleagues, and family. Your tale of woe reaches a level of Jobian proportions.

Where your partner looked to you for guidance, now she feels quite prepared to do everything on her own. It’s like she has ticked over to survival mode and you didn’t get the memo to do the same.

Before you know what’s happening, you cease to matter. Things sort of carry on without you. You shuffle things around, prioritize and try to adapt, but nothing yields fruit. It seems impossible to weather the storm.

How do you fight your depression and get back up again?

Whatever the situation and however it came to be, you are in it now. It’s a dark and lonely pit – and you need to get out of it. Depending on your willingness to accept the magnitude of the task which lies ahead, you can get out of it within a year, or wriggle out of it a decade later, alienated from your loved ones and looking like you’ve been mauled by a bear.

Enemy number 1: The burden of shame

What exactly do you have to be ashamed about? Were you once the entrepreneurial stalwart others admired? The community leader and businessman of the year? So, what? How will it benefit to hang your head in shame and to coast through the remainder of your life without giving it another go? The only way out, is through. And that will take some effort.

Warning, here comes a Branson quote: “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

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Enemy number 2: Have you reached the end of the line?

If you keep asking this question, you are in trouble. You have NOT reached the end of the line. The end is not even in sight. You are allowing circumstances to dictate your future. This type of thinking could drive you to a catastrophic result. There is no coincidence that suicide rates in men normally spike during a recession. Don’t even go there. Your family needs you.

Five steps to fighting stress and getting back up again

You need to take care of your body, your mind and your soul, not always in that order. You need to be a good husband and an even better dad. I say again, your family needs you! Here are the five most practical things to help get your ass into gear and escape the hole you are in.

Be selfish

For the sake of your family, stop sharing yourself with people who rob you of your spare time. If you can avoid them, then do so. Your personal space is of paramount importance now. It’s not quite as tragic as rediscovering yourself (though, that might just be the case.)

You are chasing solitude for the sake of evaluating your situation. You are seeking clarity. This is how you obtain it. It is not complete isolation, just a momentary avoidance of noise and rush. This will also help separate friends from acquaintances or leeches.

Get fit

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Think Rocky 4, where our hero escapes to a cabin in the woods. He begins a rigorous training routine to defeat the formidable Ivan Drago. I’m not saying bulk up and try to fight a pissed-off Russian with biceps the size of tree trunks. Your fight is a different fight. Get your life back. You need to be fit to do that. A good fitness routine clears the mind and gives one purpose and direction.

Despise negativity

Ths is easier said than done. Negativity will find you. Read positive things about inspirational people. You must become the enemy of negativity. Read books that hold a positive tone. Not Moby Dick or Grapes of Wrath. Leave the classics until you are back on top of things.

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80/20 your problems

This one I am borrowing straight from Alexander Heyne because it just makes sense. In business the Pareto Principle (known as the 80/20 rule) states that roughly 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. Somehow, I found that this is applicable to life as well. Roughly 80% of your stress spawns from 20% of your problems. If this is true of your circumstances, then get cracking on that 20% of your problems causing the most stress.

Get social

Join groups or communities for dads who might be facing similar trials. The DILF Club is a fantastic example of what you are looking for. This is a community for men with young children. From social gatherings where the kids have a play or just discussions within the groups, this is what you need. There are area-specific groups already set up across Australia. While you are down, this is the type of social safety zone that could protect you from doom prophets or from further depression.

James Fouche is an author, travel writer, entrepreneur and silly daddy of three. He also writes about parenting and wine, whenever his kids allow him to.

This article first appeared in The Brag Dad Australia.

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