How to work at home and not to drive yourself into depression: the story of one freelancer
Source: The guardian
The unpredictability of income, minimizing communication with people and excessive dependence on social media lead to the fact that self-employment complicates the lives of people with mental health problems even more, writes The Guardian.
I remember that day when I decided to become independent. It was in 2015, I was working full-time, I was not happy with it, and endless reflections about it literally choked me.
In my mailbox, there was an offer of a short-term contract that would give me the freedom and flexibility that I craved. I saw it this way: in the morning I cook healthy breakfasts and jog before work, enjoying the fact that every day can bring new, unexpected tasks and challenges.
I am one of approximately 4,6 million freelancers in the UK and, like many of those dreaming of a career as a freelance writer, I was tempted by the idea of working in country coffee shops or in bed with a cute fluffy dog next to me. The only thing I didn't expect was reality.
I have an unhealthy relationship with social media, this is true; I spend hours looking at people whose life seems to go much better than mine, and I fall into a state of insecurity.
The transition to freelancing increased my dependence on social networks - as well as the feeling that I should appear on the Internet myself. I joined Facebook for freelance colleagues and read the news every morning on Twitter. I began to notice that other freelancers are posting photos of their published work on Instagram, and began to worry: have I promoted enough?
At that time, I had been freelancing for six months now, and the contract I had originally taken had expired. I worked from home full-time, and although I had enough income to pay all my expenses, the lack of a routine made me feel like I was losing control of my life.
It was doubly difficult for me to cope with this, as I suffer from depression. What should have been my dream began to destroy everything around me: I scrolled Twitter again and again just to see that other young freelancers were more successful than me.
I was so seduced by an Instagram freelance idealized on Instagram that I didn’t think of negatives, such as sporadic and unpredictable income, a large reduction in contacts with people and excessive dependence on the Internet.
What I felt was far from new. A 2007 study by German freelancers in the media industry found that among freelancers there is a very high rate of self-esteem decline due to unfavorable psychosocial working conditions. The study also showed that men suffer from this problem more than women, but I think this is not accurate data, as I read countless discussions that the main problem of freelancers is a lack of self-esteem.
They talk about it in Facebook groups for women freelancers. Every week, or even more often, one of them complains about unaccepted materials, or that it's hard for them to talk about a pay rise.
It was possible to get out of the dive when I realized several things: that I was not alone in my feelings; that support was available on social networks if I participated in positive discussions. And that the routine, which I resented at full employment, was incredibly important.
Instead of allowing my depression and free-lance feelings to feed each other, I made concerted efforts to control them. I limit my periods online to 20 minutes, I cease aimlessly scrolling Twitter feeds from people I envy, and, waiting for an important email, do something else instead of staring at the mailbox and worrying.
It's also important to know when to take breaks. I realized that taking on too much means not working at full strength.
Sticking with a routine and getting up early can be a gigantic task, especially with depression. But freelancing can be cruel and uncertain. However, I decided that I would not allow him to defeat me, and now I understand that the Internet can be my ally in this, and not the enemy.