I am a self-employed writer and artist who works at home, aside from the days when I am better off at the library (because there’s nothing else to do there but work). Mostly, it’s just my Chihuahua and me until the kids get home.
I’m not complaining; being home equals freedom! Leaving my newspaper job after 10 years was like getting paroled. I still had to work, but it would be on my own terms. No longer would I have to contemplate whether I’d call in sick or well---as in, “Forgive me, but I feel too good to come to work today.”
It’s been about 15 years now that I celebrate my freedom. I’m free to wear (or not wear) what I choose and take as many breaks as necessary. Some days are just one big break. But it’s OK because I have no employers breathing down my neck or scrutinizing my methods, like the incessant need to listen to the radio on Apple TV or to take the laptop from the couch to the bed to the deck outside, or commenting on how long I’ve taken for lunch. Or to write a little, then paint a little as my attention span and creativity ebbs and flows.
But no matter where you work or how you work, if you’re not rockin’ that mental health and clear focus, your work will suffer. Sometimes I have trouble writing a coherent sentence and to get through it I have to read everything aloud to make up for not being able to hear the words in my head. The writing life is solitary. Social outlets must be designed. If you don’t like quiet time, you’re in the wrong business.
So far, I’ve enjoyed about 15 years of freelance writing. I’m happy to say I love it, though it’s not all about hanging in my jammies listening to Apple TV radio with my pooch. If I don’t work, I also don’t get paid, and Verizon doesn’t care why not. It can be rather anxiety producing when the only thing I accomplish in a day is self-analysis, and squashing negativity with affirmations. It’s a good day, like today, when I decide to create a blog out of such analysis. It gives me a chance not to feel so alone, to know I’m sharing my experience to either commiserate or give others a mini-break from their own experiences. Sometimes I wear myself out. I am constantly strategizing---mostly through lists and doodling while in deep thought---about my life’s plan. I’m 46. Yet, I still ask myself: What do I want to be when I grow up? And furthermore, will I ever feel grown up? Maybe I should hope not! Another day older means closer to death. Squash that! Life is beautiful. Of course it is and every minute I’m creating a life worth living. But….
How can I feel better, avoid a painful menopause, exercise more, guide my kids better, avoid depression, manage my anxiety (stop beating myself up for everything), work harder, make more money but have more free time, make sensible yet interesting, delicious meals and shop for food when I’m in that we’re-all-gonna-die-someday-anyway mentality?
Let’s be honest. Being human is a challenge from start to finish. And by now I’ve come to accept the fact that I might be in oodles of trouble if I had to work for someone else.
The Forbes’ news recently revealed that employees with untreated mental illness cost employers billions of dollars each year. The Center for Prevention and Health Services reports that around 217 million days of work every year are lost because mental illness doesn’t often boost productivity. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
If that’s not enough bad news, mental illness and substance abuse disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.
There’s help, if you want it, around every corner. If you need it, be your own parent, and go get it. Be your own best friend who asks, “What can I do for you today? How can I help you feel better? It’s true we’re all going to die someday, but that day isn’t today. Today is for living!”
And I remind myself of this every day. Sometimes just the reminder is enough to give me the confidence to write another sentence. And then another. And before I know it, I’ve written an entire blog.
- Deposits or Withdrawals?...
- Arbor Day...