Running a Business Whilst Managing Chronic Illness

Saturday, 21 February 2015

I've been wanting to write a post about this for so long and fear has absolutely put me off.  Fear of opening myself up to criticism, discrimination, judgement and more. There is still so much stigma attached to mental illness, so if this gets deleted, don't be surprised. Publishing this is a risk to me professionally and personally, as so few people close to me even know. My main reason for this is to provide inspiration and reassurance to others in a similar situation, so here it goes.

I'm disabled. Not disabled in the way people imagine a disabled person to be. I don't have a wheelchair. I am able bodied. No, since I was 12 years old, I've suffered from major depressive disorder and social anxiety, and more recently, been diagnosed with an ED and emotional instability personality disorder (something which in itself, is highly stigmatised). For me, working in full time or even part time work is challenging. In my life, I've been in hospital multiple times for suicide attempts, had a stay in an inpatient unit and have even once been sectioned. Whilst I very likely could get signed off work and get benefits (which is a perfectly reasonable option to take), I so desperately want to work and be as independent as I possibly can be, so instead, I have created my own job whilst I get back on my feet.

Working from my home can be both a godsend and a curse. It suits me as I can work it around my chronic illness, so on my bad days, I don't have to feel guilty about calling up sick to an employer. I'm my own boss, so instead I simply adjust my hours accordingly. On the other hand, I have a responsibility to meet deadlines for customers. I'm extremely lucky in this instance. Firstly, I try to plan in advance and give myself enough time to allow for falling ill. Secondly, my lovely Eloise does the bulk of the shipping, so will work more hours when I'm unable to. Creating your own business around illness involves a lot of organisation and managing the particular challenges you may face as a result, but with prior planning and a bit of experience, you slowly get to grips with the adjustments necessary for you to manage the two together.

There are some limitations that still do affect me and I have missed out as a result. Unfortunately because of my anxiety I don't attend many (if any) craft fairs, which I so desperately wish I could. There have been a few opportunities to collaborate with other makers involving meet ups, which I also declined as I knew how difficult it was for me. This isn't the be all and end all however, I have also worked with a number of people via the internet, such as a Little Bundle, and have made strong friendships through a number of crafting groups.

In the future, we aim to work with more charities, but of course, mental health charities, and in particular Mind, will always be our main choice, as it's something I'm really passionate about and is very very close to my heart.

I hope this post may help some people and if anyone wants to talk to me for advice on setting up a business and working around a disability, you're more than welcome to!

5 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that you will helping others who might be feeling alone and silenced with their mental health. To build real connections with people that accept and love us for us we have to show our vulnerabilities. Always be kind to yourself. And I love your jewellery.

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    1. Being kind to yourself is the most important thing - making sure to not beat yourself up when you're having a tough time and make sure you take care of yourself!

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  2. I suspect it will have been a bit nerve racking to post this but thank you so much for sharing. You do a fantastic job and as a fellow craft business owner living with chronic and mental illness I have to say you are an inspiration.

    Take care x

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  3. Inspiring post! Keep doing what makes you happy and well! X

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  4. Love the post =]

    emyii90.blogspot.co.uk

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