Thursday 27 January 2011

Juggling work, play and anorexia

Once upon a time I had a brilliant career as a freelance copywriter, working from home for businesses up and down the country, writing websites, sales letters, brochures... in short, everything to do with sales and marketing. Then anorexia invaded our home and gradually I had to cut back on work to spend more time focusing on helping my son to recover. By summer 2010, I was having to turn down work left, right and centre, trimming my business back to a couple of hours a week... if I was lucky. OK, we had to make huge financial sacrifices, but with anorexia on the scene I didn't feel much like treating myself to shopping trips or holidays, anyway. But I always said "We'll be OK as long as my husband doesn't lose his job". I think you can guess what's coming next...

Working in the construction industry in a recession is never going to be good news - and this week my engineer husband received the news that the company he works for is going out of business. By today, he could have no job and - as a result - no income. And he won't get any redundancy. He might not even get his pay packet at the end of the month.

Talk about extra stress when you don't need it! Of course it'll mean I have to crank up my freelancing business again and juggle work with caring for my son. But at least with Ben back in school most mornings, I can work then. And thank God it's not like it was a year ago when I'd be on red alert every single morning ready for the latest "I can't go on" text from his phone.

Plus, I am so so so so fortunate that I work for myself, from home. I have become an expert in 'flexible working' as I switch from eating disorders to goodness only knows what the latest sales letter is about - in a split second.

The bad news is that we'll have to trim our household expenses still further, at a time when we'd already cut back massively. But hopefully I'll be able to juggle morning work with caring for my son in the afternoons while my husband looks for another job. And hopefully I'll be able to make sufficient money for us to stay afloat in the meantime. Because, when you have a recovering anorexic in the house, it's vital to keep calm, positive and stress-free.

I know other eating disorder parents that juggle work and caring - and I admire those that manage to hold down what I call a 'proper' 9 to 5 job enormously.

In an ideal world, we'd all stop work and care for our anorexic children full-time, regardless of the financial sacrifice.

But unfortunately, it's also vital to keep a roof over your child's head, and for that you need an income. And, for now, that income will have to come from me.

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