I originally started working freelance because of health problems. RSI and other chronic pain issues made it difficult for me to get through a 9-to-5 day and by working for myself at home, I developed ways of coping and managing to work enough hours to keep me going. And in general, it does work very well. I’ve got my desk and computer set up to make me as comfortable as possible, I can pace my work and take lots of breaks. When I start to get achy I can relax, stretch out on the floor, do a few exercises or even go out for a swim and a sit in the sauna at the gym round the corner. And when things are really bad, I can just give in and take painkillers that make me drowsy. All infinitely better than trying to struggle through in an office.
The one drawback though is that being on your own, it’s easy to dwell too much on how rotten you feel and start feeling sorry for yourself. Chronic pain is an odd thing in that although it has a very clear physical component, it has a large psychological element too. It’s definitely true that distraction can play a big role. If you can do something to take your mind off the pain, you can often (although not always) push it into the background for a while. So in some ways, going out to work, having demands and responsibilities and interacting with colleagues might provide more distraction and perk me up a bit.
You can’t win either way … I’m seriously considering heading to the southern hemisphere next winter!