Being vulnerable gives us great power. Meet Kate who talks honestly about her struggles with anxiety. Find out why she decided to walk away from job security to start her own business and focus on her mental wellbeing.
I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression since I was teenager, mainly due to being a victim of sexual assault.
I’ve worked since I was 16, only taking employment breaks to study and to go on maternity leave.
I’ve had many different jobs and to be completely honest I have never felt comfortable in any of them.
At school I wanted to be an actress, I was advised that this wasn’t stable and I probably wouldn’t make it and it was best to choose something else.
Later, in college, I chose to go into forensics or archaeology, again, I was given reasons to not pursue this. I have spent the best part of my life being told what I can’t do.
I carried on in menial task jobs; I was employed by one company as a General Assistant. Looking back over my time there it was blatantly obvious that the management staff simply did not like me. I had ‘ideas above my station’. I didn’t stand for discrimination, bullying, de-valuing of staff or unfair treatment. I worked there for six years and watched as brand new staff became team leaders and supervisors within a matter of months, whilst I went above and beyond in my role, with zero recognition.
I was eventually pushed out, I was called in to the office and very bluntly told that I’d obviously worked there long enough and it was time to move on.
So I did, I went into an office based role and it sent my anxiety levels sky rocketing. I ended up not being able to physically go to my place of work because I couldn’t leave the house. My new boss was less than sympathetic choosing to not believe me because I didn’t ‘look’ like I had anxiety…
I knew then that I could not work for someone who dismissed mental illness so easily.
I left to be a cleaner.
The job I left had a starting salary of around £15,000 with benefits and promotion prospects reaching up £40k. That might not sound like much but for someone who had always been on minimum wage, it was like winning the lottery.
However, my mental wellbeing is way more important so I was happy to give it up to scrub toilets for £7,000 a year.
I worked for a few cleaning companies and unfortunately the third one I joined turned out to be owned by a nasty, untrustworthy, fraudulent woman. I worked for her for four months and she still owes me over £1,000.
That was my final straw really. And in some way I thank her, all of them actually, because now I own two of my own businesses, I’m completely self-employed and I only have to answer to myself.
I decided to start my own business through necessity. I have worked for some pretty s****y people and even though I always knew my employers weren’t particularly nice, I had no choice but to stay where I was.
Going it Alone
I eventually found the courage to go it alone in September 2018. I set up a cleaning business and I also started advertising my services as a freelance writer.
My cleaning company is my main source of income, whereas writing is my passion.
I now have the freedom to focus on the things I love and work on projects that are close to my heart.
I suffer with anxiety, depression and PTSD and now I know I don’t have to explain this to anyone, it does make it ever so slightly easier to cope with, which in turn helps me to raise awareness of these situations in the workplace and everyday life.
I have the free time to write and blog about mental illness.
I do still have episodes of self-doubt and I have to deal with the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ but I have a fantastic network of family and friends around me who remind me just how capable I am.
Making that decision to set up on your own is incredibly scary, I don’t have sick pay or holiday pay to rely on.
If I’m off sick I simply don’t get paid and if I want to take time off I have to save extra money to cover the days that I won’t be getting paid. It’s sometimes terrifying but then in the next moment it’s exhilarating. I have no boundaries, no limits, I can grab as many opportunities as I like and that’s what I love about it.
I’m still in the very early stages of my business journey and I have a long way to go and lots to learn. I love both of my ventures for different reasons, as ‘Kate The Cleaner’ I get to meet some brilliant people (with adorable pets!) and I’ve also made some wonderful friends.
At the other side of my working life with Editrix Media I get to be creative and that’s where my passion lies.
Managing Business + Life
Running two businesses can be overwhelming, especially when I have personal writing projects alongside, a home to run and family life to fit in. The way I manage it all is to plan things meticulously.
I have a to-do list for the day, one for the week and then one that is a total brain dump; that one could be four pages long but it gets it all out of my head, so I’m clear to think.
I also try to be strict with myself and have cut-off points. I work from home three days a week so it can be hard to differentiate between home and work. Having a strict regime is essential to help your brain shut off.
I don’t work after 7pm and I take regular breaks. I try to not start housework when I’m working as it confuses home and work life.
My mental well-being is something I take very seriously. When I feel like it’s going to be one of ‘those days’ I am very open about it. I will tell my boyfriend and we’ll do what we can to make it easier. Sometimes it isn’t easier and I’ll just cry in the bath but that’s okay. You can allow yourself to have a day where nothing gets done but breathing.
I practice yoga, I meditate, I give myself time to be outdoors and I plan days off. And by having a day off I mean completely. No work at all. This for me will either consist of binge-watching Netflix or going for a walk in The Dales. These are very rare and I cherish them.
My advice to budding entrepreneurs would be ‘do it’. Life is too short to be miserable.
Cleaning is not my calling, I love what I do and I will continue to do it until I no longer need to. My happiness and freedom are more important to me than money and if that’s how you view life it will be a whole lot easier, I promise.
Follow Kate online…
Kate blogs about mental illness at mowglization.com
You can also find Kate’s freelance writing business over at facebook.com/editrixmedia/