Freelancing made my depression worse – here’s how I learnt to cope

Unpredictable income, reduced human contact and over reliance on social media makes self-employment even harder for people with mental health issues

I remember the day I decided to take the plunge and go freelance. It was 2015, I was in a full-time job I wasn’t satisfied with, and the thought of it stretching out infinitely in front of me felt stifling.

In my inbox was an offer of a short-term contract that would give me the freedom and flexibility I craved; I envisaged mornings spent cooking myself healthy breakfasts and jogging before starting work, revelling in the fact that every day could bring new commissions and challenges I hadn’t expected.

I’m one of the estimated 4.6 million freelancers in the UK and like many who dream of a career as a self-employed writer, I was seduced by the idea of working in rustic coffee shops, or from bed, with a cute fluffy dog by my side. The only thing I hadn’t bargained for was the reality.

I have an unhealthy relationship with social media as it is; I spend hours looking at people whose lives seem to be going much better than mine, sending myself into a spiral of self-doubt.

Going freelance meant my reliance on social media increased, and so did the pressure I felt to build my personal brand online. I joined Facebook groups for fellow freelance journalists and scoured Twitter for newsworthy ideas every morning. I began noticing other freelancers posting pictures of their published work on Instagram and worried: was I self-promoting enough? Are my tweets charmingly cynical, or actually just unprofessional?...more