Becoming A Chronically Ill Freelancer – My Story So Far

pippa sat at desk wearing stripy shirt and silver noise cancelling headphones, writing in a diary with open laptop in front of her and books in the background

Time and time again, people ask what I actually do for a living… and I’m yet to find a concise way of answering this question. If they’re familiar with my online life, I’ll tell them I’m a writer and a blogger. If they’re aware of my health situation, I’ll tell them I work from home in digital communications. If it’s somebody I don’t know well, I’ll simply tell them I work in the charity sector. And all of these answers are true.

My Background

I graduated from university in 2016 (finishing my postgraduate diploma in 2017), and thanks to the joys of an unrelenting chronic illness, I had no idea what the future would hold. As I discuss in more depth in this post about being an ‘in-betweener’, I knew I was well enough to work in some capacity, but far from able to pursue a typical 9am-5pm occupation that involved leaving the house and being around other people every day.

Still adapting to the constraints that my health had imposed on my day-to-day life, back then I didn’t think I would have the luxury of choice over what job I went into; I thought I’d simply have to take whatever I could secure. By then, my self-worth had taken a serious battering. Everything had been overshadowed by my condition and the struggles of navigating an inaccessible society, and I was yet to realise that I still had all these valuable skills to offer.

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Finding Accessible Work With A Chronic Illness

image taken from above of silver laptop open on white bedsheets with hands typing on keyboard, iphone laid on the left hand side

So, let’s talk about working with a chronic illness.

Since I started blogging, there’s one question I’ve consistently been asked more than any other: how I find my flexible, work from home opportunities. As a self-employed chronically ill writer, I currently split my time between consultancy and content creation in the charity sector, freelance writing and editing, blogging and social media shenanigans, running my social enterprise (Spoonie Survival Kits), and incessantly guzzling tea whilst making extensive to-do lists.

You can find out a bit more about my background here, and read more about my personal career journey so far (including employment and self-employment!) in this post.

This post first came about rather spontaneously, following preparations for a livestream where I was to discuss accessible employment and managing work with a chronic illness. It was whilst doing my prep that it hit me: although there are a fair few of us talking about our personal experiences, there isn’t really a great deal of practical support and signposting to actual resources and opportunities.

So, that’s led me here: to a blog post hastily put together before the livestream, which I’ve since returned to and have been expanding ever since. It’s no secret that there simply aren’t enough flexible opportunities out there for chronically ill people, with many employers yet to realise they’re missing out on a huge wealth of talent, but I’m working on it. And in the meantime, I hope these resources go some way in helping others to kick-start their own careers.

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