There’s a sentence I thought I would never write. I’ve always been an annoyingly responsible person, gainfully employed since I was old enough to reach the washbasins at the family hair salon.
I’ve worked as a writer in advertising agencies since I finished my Masters in 2012. Having reached the level of Creative Director, one would assume I would keep going on the same trajectory. Why wouldn’t I?
There’s one very simple reason, and that’s mental health. Since my daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the start of 2013, I have been trying to keep way too many balls in the air. Learning about her illness. Learning how to manage it. Getting used to both preventative and reactive treatments. Dealing with grieving for the life I thought my child would have. And the life I thought our family would have. All the while trying to pretend like it wouldn’t change anything. I could still go back to work and pursue my career, right?
Well, right. I could. And I did. But while making so many pieces of myself, my mental health was slowly but surely shattering. I was commuting 2.5-3 hours a day to a demanding job. The pressure of my work used to excite me and it was absolutely part of the thrill. But I found myself putting a good front on, while inside I was feeling resentful, overwhelmed and utterly lost and broken. This was a toxic combination and I knew I had to do something.
I took a time out, taking Carer’s Leave to adjust the balance in my life and to feel more in control of my daughter’s health. I’ve learnt a lot about myself in that time. I’ve learned that I’m the type of person that needs to work, but I’ve also learned that I refuse to let anything get in the way of the wellbeing of my family any more. I can see both of my children thriving with better stability at home. I hear more laughter in my house. I feel more love in my heart. And my daughter hasn’t had an admission in my time out of the office.
So despite having a supportive employer who was prepared to try out flexible ways of working, I’ve decided to cut loose. Not to give up working altogether, but to start my own business and work on my own terms. I’ll work more when all is well, and less when it’s not. I agonised over making this call. But the hardest decision in the world seems like the most obvious now that it’s made.
It’s time to stop pretending that nothing has changed. Everything has changed. It’s also time to acknowledge that if you can’t change a situation, then perhaps you have to change yourself. So 2018, I’m coming for you. A new business, a new dawn, a new day. Fuelled by love and powered by hope; this CF Mama is getting her shit together.