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3 hours of sleep. 20 hour work days. 'Entrepreneurial disease' nearly killed Angela Ceberano.

Angela’s usual day started at 5am. Sometimes earlier.

As the owner of Flourish PR, if it was one of those “crazy promo weeks” she might have to accompany clients to as many as 20 media interviews in a day.

Often there was a show that night. As well as a post show event.

And 20 hours later, her day would finish.

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Angela remembers checking once how many hours she spent on her phone a day, between phone calls, emails and social media.

“It was just ridiculous,” she told Mamamia. “Something like 15 hours a day.”

At night, she didn’t sleep. Not really. She averaged about three or four hours a night, often waking to the pinging of her phone as international clients tried to reach her. If she didn’t make the effort to answer, it might be another 12 hours before they could be in contact again.

So she replied.

Sometimes it would be 2pm before she threw anything in her mouth. At 11am she’d think, “I’m busting to go to the toilet…” and three hours later realise she’d been too busy to go.

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“What must have been happening to me internally,” Angela said. “It was all just a second priority for me.”

When she got home from work, she didn’t have time to cook dinner. She’d eat whatever she could get her hands on.

But then, slowly, strange things began to happen

Angela found herself not wanting to go to events she’d once found exciting, and avoiding going out with friends.

“I didn’t even want to hang out with my family,” she said. “I just wanted to go home and be alone, which was very strange.”

Writing a press release, which once took her 20 minutes, now took triple the time. And Angela had no idea why.

She became plagued by a crippling lack of ambition. Whereas once she jumped out of bed, eager to get into the office, she now found herself dreading it.

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“I remember sitting in my car one day,” Angela said, “and physically not being able to start my car and come in to work. I just felt completely and utterly stuck.”

She didn’t feel like she could take a break. This was her own business. “You start looking around at other people and compare yourself,” she said, “and you start to get really envious.”

Angela was asking herself: “How come all my friends are having babies? How did they even have time to do that? I’d never be able to do that.”

She wondered if she had depression. Her stomach was constantly in knots, the cramps becoming more and more severe.

And then, one day, she found herself in hospital.

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She had severe pneumonia. In both lungs.

A doctor told Angela that if she had not gone to hospital that day, her temperature was so high, and her body so compromised, that she would not have survived another 48 hours.

Her specialist referred to what she was suffering as ‘entrepreneurial disease’.

“Business owners tend to get to pneumonia because their immune systems are low,” Angela said. “It’s because of exhaustion.”

And so, Angela was put on bed rest for seven weeks. Her husband, Phil, removed her phone from the bedroom, and her family were resolute in their position that they would not let her live like this any longer.

Suddenly, she found herself asking: “If I were to take the business away, who am I? And what do I actually enjoy doing?”

 

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Ceberano Family Christmas ????- Thanks @therealkateceberano for a beautiful evening. ????#Christmas #family #sunday

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It was something she’d never really thought about.

Her husband insisted she find some hobbies, asking her if there was anything she loved as a kid that she missed.

That’s when Angela rediscovered horse riding.

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You can’t hold a phone in your hand when you’re on top of a horse. Well – you can. But you’ll almost certainly fall off.

Now, Angela sleeps seven to eight hours a night. If she doesn’t, she says she becomes “hideous”.

She restructured her business, a process that took two years to get right. She hired more senior staff, and moved out of the day-to-day running of it.

“I did a cull,” Angela said. “Both of people in the business and people outside of the business that I was hanging out with.”

Now, Angela works four days a week, and lives in a small country cottage on the Mornington Peninsula. Life is nothing like she could have imagined just five years ago. Spending time with her horses is a non-negotiable.

Finally, she says, she feels reinvigorated.

But most importantly, Angela says she’s achieved perspective.

“There is actually far more to life than work,” she said.

You can follow Angela on Instagram right here, or check out her website, Marco & Co

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.
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