I wake up to my alarm ringing and the cat sitting on my head. I look across and my husband is still blissfully asleep. It’s six o’clock. It’s freezing. It’s dark, and I have to be at work in an hour. It takes me twenty minutes to walk, or I can take the rammed packed bus that stops at every single stop along the way. Either way, I have to be out the house in under forty minutes. That’s the problem. Trying to do anything that early in the morning is like wading through treacle and time has this way of feeling like it’s on fast forward. You might have realised that I am most definitely not a morning person. I never have been. Getting up this early in the morning does not agree with me. It’s too early for me to eat. If I have anything before 10 I’ll feel nauseous, and I might even throw it back up. It’s like my body’s way of shouting at me “What are you doing being up this early?! Go back to bed!” So no breakfast. I won’t get back from my shift until mid afternoon and won’t get a lunch break.
I’ve been toying with the idea of going freelance for the past year. I’ve been slowly building my writing portfolio over the last three years and recently it’s escalated. I’m getting actual paid work. It’s work I enjoy and I’m proud of. The problem has been juggling my writing with my part time job. For a while it worked quite well, but I found myself at work wishing the time away. It might be because I had a deadline looming, or I had some great ideas I needed to pitch, or I needed to update my blog with a new post. I’ve also started a podcast this year and honestly I haven’t had enough time in my schedule to record regular episodes. On top of that I was looking after my niece once a week. I had all these ideas and not enough time to implement them.
You’re probably thinking; but you only work part time, how can it be so difficult to find time to write? I find it difficult to go from serving coffee and chatting to customers for six hours, to then sitting down and concentrating. I find it hard to focus when I’m switching gears so suddenly. I also have to be mindful of how much pressure I put on myself. Stress and tiredness are the number one triggers for me for a manic episode.
The one thing that scares me about going freelance is money, or the lack of it. I’m not a materialistic person – one of my favourite dresses is nine years old, so it doesn’t bother me if I can’t buy new things. If I can pay the bills and my husband and I can still go out and see friends and have date nights, I’ll be happy. Where I’ve been working for the past year and a half I’ve been on minimum wage. I’ll miss that steady income but it’s not like I’m going from some high earning job to unpredictability. Plus, my job was shift based, and I was on a zero hour contract. That meant I never had a guarantee of regular work anyway. I’m used to living in uncertainty.
Then there’s the big one. The one predominant, constant issue in my life; my mental health. Could I manage making my own routine and sticking to it? Could I deal with the stress of working for myself and managing my time? I’ve been mostly stable for the past year, besides a few wobbles here and there. One of which resulted in my psychiatrist not taking seriously my suicidal thoughts. I felt there wouldn’t be a better time than now to take the plunge. I’m aware that such a big change in my life and routine could be a trigger for an episode of mania or depression. I’m going to look out for the warning signs and make sure I’m taking care of myself.