I wanted to share with you a personal battle I've been fighting for what seems like ages now, not because I want sympathy but because it stresses an important point to think about if you are going into freelance work.
When I started about 2 years ago I surrounded myself with professional people to help get things of the ground and to ask for businesses advice, but now I begin to realise I should have had a different network.
Things have really come to a head this past few months and I've had to make some pretty big changes. Here's why.
I've been feeling really unwell recently. I've been run down, tired, moody and irritable. But also been suffering from very bad headaches, backache, and chest palpitations and pains. The latter being a real worry as we have a history of heart disease in our family.
Recently, I've been feeling very dizzy when standing up. OK, so all real worrying symptoms. But add to this silly things I've started doing like checking my pulse all of the time and constantly worrying about my health.
I visited (well, more got sent) to see a doctor about all of this and, after a thorough assessment and even an ECG, I was given the all clear. I had a slightly high heart rate and high blood pressure. They even mentioned the two dreaded words STRESS and DEPRESSION.
I would like to say that I'm not depressed - my life is fantastic, but the stress, maybe.
A lot has gone on since I started. Getting things off the ground, moving house, moving office and getting engaged - lot's of stressful things. Also, I know I get a bit anxious at times and worry about everything and it looks like everything has come to a head and caught up with me.
The thing is, although all of the personality profiling tools say I'm an Extravert, I keep everything to myself. I tell no one about how I'm feeling, even if I only have a cold. I prefer to put on a mask and get on with it. Recently though this has become increasingly difficult as these thoughts have been coming to me when I've been stood up in front of a group of people.
I talk to my professional network about businesses, but talk to no one else about the other problems, not even my fiance. She was very shocked to learn what I have been going through.
After my visit to the doctor things changed. I started to feel what I guess is normal. But, this worried me as I forgot how it felt. I worried that I couldn't feel my heart beating out of my chest and that my heart rate had slowed down. Of course the worrying changed this, but then I worried about feeling bad again - a vicious circle.
I learnt a number of different tools that help me to stay in control, stay calm and stay more positive. Many of these we share now in our Assertiveness Skills Training Course and Personal Effectiveness Skills Training Course.
Now, after starting to get used to feeling 'normal' again, I'm starting to deal with what happened. I've talked to my doctor, my fiance and my parents and it's unbelievable the difference it makes. I feel altogether better.
So, why tell you all of this? It's not therapy!
If you are planning to go freelance, not matter how much careful planning you do or how prepared you are just be prepared to have your life turned upside down for a short period of time. Things will be very different, worry and self doubt will kick in and a potential lack of sleep will run you down.
But, don't make the same mistake I did. Ensure you talk to people about how you are feeling. Meet up with friends for a coffee. Don't make it all business, talk about you and your feelings and if you do feel like I did, it can be worrying and I would say chat to a doctor, just to get yourself checked out.
Build a personal network of people you can talk to should you need to, not about business related activity but personal things. And finally, don't be scared to use them.
I hope this helps you. I feel as though my business is going very well, much better than expected even with all of these issues. I'm looking forward now to building things further as my focus has now changed.
All the very best