Five months ago, I made the biggest change in my life I've ever made and in doing so, I took one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken too. I decided to go it alone and become a freelance designer. This was such a scary move at the time as I had no savings and no experience making a living without working for someone but it felt like the only thing I could do.
For the past six years, I’ve been working in open plan offices, which simply doesn’t suit me as an introvert. Not a single office I worked in had a quiet area or room where I could go to get some good work done, free from all the distractions, small talk, pointless chit-chat, meetings, noise and interruptions. In the end, it all got the better of me and I hit a low point as I spent the last 18 months of my time working in offices suffering from depression.
The catalyst for my depression was actually a nightmare seven month mortgage application process, where we nearly lost our ideal flat in our favourite part of London but working in noisy offices ensured my depression continued far beyond the damage caused by that. It was hell.
The constant worry about money in the first two months of freelancing made it tough but I landed a great long-term contract with a company I used to work for. I work for them for 2-4 days a week, which leaves me free to work for other clients or work on my own projects. I’m currently earning more at 3 days a week than I was in a Monday to Friday 9-5:30 job (9-5 doesn’t really exist anymore). My capacity to save money has greatly increased, so much so, my wife and I are able to save up money to travel more, which is one of our great passions in life.
This new found freedom banished my depression, almost overnight. I always knew that it would go away at some point and that I just had to “ride it out” until it was over even though my wife, who works in the mental health industry, wasn’t so sure. She informed me it was rare for someone to rid themselves of the level of depression I had without external help, so she took a month or two getting used to the fact that I had done just that. It feels like a real achievement because I had to take a substantial risk in order to heal myself but at the same time, I knew I had to do it. My wife knows how much she means to me for sticking by me and helping me get through this tough time and I couldn’t have done it without her. I love her so much!
It has almost felt like my life has been on hold for the 18 months I was ill. There are so many things I want to achieve and I have a number of different ideas I want to try and now I feel like I have nothing in my way.
If you're in the same or similar position, or ever find yourself that way, please know that it won't always be bad. It will get better but you have to do something about it. Whether like me and you make a big change in your life, or you seek external help, you have to do something. It may seem like the hardest or scariest thing in the world to do but it may just help get your life back on track.