On Wednesday morning, I hit a low. My family has been lucky during the pandemic — none of us have caught the virus (as far as we know), and we haven’t lost anyone. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an impact. For me, the main impact has been on my mental health. 

The near-destruction of my business a year ago has shaken me profoundly. It’s eroded my sense of self-confidence more than it should have, and left me prone to bouts of bleakness. I hesitate to call it “depression”, because I don’t have a diagnosis, and I know people have it a lot worse than I do. But it’s there, I need to acknowledge it and learn to live with it, because I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. 

Some frustrations that morning — a couple of pieces of work I thought were in the bag turning out to be far less so — sent me spiralling downwards. One situation in particular felt like a very personal rejection, and was probably what triggered my bleak mood. I can still feel it haunting me a couple of days later. 

I had to pull away from social media — Twitter especially — for a while, because it’s not good for me at the best of times. I toyed with the idea of starting to look for a job again — something I haven’t done seriously for nearly a decade.

Living self-employment

And then, I remembered that I am self-employed, and that I am so for a reason. I really am my own boss, and I can take time off if I need it. I declared the rest of the day a mental health day for myself, and took myself off to Worthing to do a couple of chores. 

Once they were done, I gave myself permission to just wander, explore. To see new places I hadn’t seen before, something I haven’t really done in over a year now. I followed the main street in Worthing far beyond where I’ve every gone before, and after I passed the tertiary retail and the empty units, I started finding some interesting wee shops off the side-streets. 

Found, a shop in Worthing

Badgers Books in Worthing

And, my goodness, did I feel better afterwards. I hadn’t realised how much I missed exploring for its own sake, going new places and finding new things.

That made me realise that maybe I need to rebalance my time again. As a natural result of the pandemic-driven downturn in my business and the lockdowns, my world had pretty much shrunk to my work, my family and my neighbourhood. It’s not any slight on those three — all of which I love — to say that I clearly need a little more than that in my life right now. 

Perhaps, if I invest a little bit more time in things I enjoy, and in some of my personal projects, I’ll be a lot less vulnerable to bad days in the the day “job”. 

It’s certainly worth a try.