We all know endometriosis can be isolating. But what happens when you have this chronic illness and you also work from home?
Last week, I wrote about about my journey to self-employment, and the very real benefits I have experienced from this change. Yet, changes like this do not go without their own challenges, and I wouldn’t want to lure you into believing that the self-employed world is always as glamorous as movies like to suggest, (Although, it’s admittedly pretty cool.)
I thought when I became self-employed, it would all slot into place straight away, and in some ways it has. The opportunities have come in, which was really my main concern. But what I didn’t think about was how I’d have to tackle feelings of isolation and anxiety, in ways I hadn’t encountered before.
When I was employed full-time, and even part-time, I longed for the silence I had at home. My brain was so tired of the constant internal questions, wondering when my boss was going to call me in to fire me for being ill. There was the background noise of a busy office and the general social anxiety I was beginning to experience because of my depression. I just wanted peace and quiet.
The thing is, when you’re home alone working, it feels great when you’re not doing it everyday. You really appreciate the silence, you can work more easily, despite having endo-brain fog, because there’s not another 10 things pulling at your attention, and you don’t have to pretend you’re okay when you’re really not.
Yet, when you’re doing it every day, the silence can turn into loneliness. We are social creatures; we move in packs, we thrive off the energy of others. If you’re spending your weekends at home or seeing friends less, your working weeks might have been the thing stopping you from becoming even more isolated. But becoming fully self-employed may take you that step farther into isolation.
It took a couple of weeks before I realized this was happening to me. I had more energy and I was able to see a few more friends on the weekends. So, in that sense, my connection with others was increasing on a social level. But during my 9-to-5, it was just the laptop, me, and Lana Del Rey set on repeat.
Eventually, as my energy levels have crept up, I’ve started wanting to work from cafés and workspaces, and even at some of my clients’ offices. Before I made the move to self-employed and was doing these bits and pieces on the side, I couldn’t stand going to my clients’ workspaces – I couldn’t cope with the noise, the people and the journey. Cafés were distracting and workspaces never seemed worth the effort to get to them and I could never get on the Wi-Fi anyway.
Now, the local coffee shop staffers are my colleagues. Workspaces are places I use following meetings, when I’m in town. When I want to be around my clients and really chat things through, I go to them. Other days, I’m literally working from underneath my duvet.
And that’s what makes the days out doable, and even enjoyable. Those days when I need to recharge and be alone, I can; the days I want to be around others and bounce off their energy, I can. Because I’m no longer fighting the noise, because I know I can retreat to my home whenever I want, the change of an airy work space and the low background noise of a quiet café or of several other freelancers typing away is refreshing instead of overwhelming.
So, if you’re considering making the move to the freelance world to help mange endo, my suggestion to you is do some research beforehand. Find some cafés that are quiet enough to work in, but lively enough to not feel like your living room, find out about spaces in town that are happy to let freelancers jam all day and always charge your laptop, in case you’re stuck without a socket!
The first few weeks you might just want to relish the silence, as I did. But when things begin to start feeling stuck, or you feel like you’re too far in your own head, perhaps then is the time you may want to venture out, even just for an hour, to brave the rest of the world again.
It has taken about six weeks to find the balance (and to find the seats nearest the charging sockets), but I think I might have just gotten there. Lana can take a rest for a while.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.