Can We Earn More Money and Still Keep Our Sanity?
Times are tough, and if we don’t start doing something about our financial situation, there will be a disaster
I don’t have a 9-to-5 job as many do. Even before the pandemic, I worked for myself to figure out what people wanted to read and consume on the internet. I don’t have a regular job because I am mentally ill, and even though I’ve seen improvement in the past couple of years, I still have a long way to go to function in a typical workplace outside my home.
In 2018, I felt I couldn’t manage to deal with freelance ghostwriting’s stress and deadlines. I had been hoping that freelancing would help me generate enough money to rid myself of the monkey that is Social Security Disability (SSDI), but like having a real job, I couldn’t make commitments or keep my deadlines because I was constantly checking out for weeks at a time.
The nature of my illness is that I operate in cycles. I can sometimes go a few weeks without taking time off to recover from a psychotic or depressive episode; sometimes, I can only manage a few days.
In 2018, I found Medium, and although I haven’t made enough money here to support myself and my family, it has opened up a few opportunities for me and gave me the confidence I needed to write well.
In 2020, I found two other opportunities. I signed on at News Break, and I started a YouTube channel. So far, I haven’t made enough money to feed my family, but I am working toward that goal.
I don’t have a regular job, but I do find myself working more than I probably should.
My prime writing time is between midnight and 7 am. I have a family with a growing baby, and my wife works full-time during the day. The only time I can work is overnight when everyone else is asleep.
I try to catch enough sleep during the day — a few hours when the baby naps in the afternoon, and a few more at night before I get up, make coffee, and start writing and making videos.
When I am not sleeping, I find myself attached to my phone, researching article and video ideas, catching up on my reading, and trying to keep up with social media. To produce all the material I do every day, I need to be feeding my brain with books, blogs, videos, podcasts, pop culture websites, news, and even music, which helps keep my creative mind primed and ready.
I do it during the day to focus entirely on writing and editing videos at night.
I have an enormous amount of work I must complete if I want to hit my goals and continually grow financially to support my family and realize my dream of being free of SSDI.
But all this is only my second most important job.
I am first a father. I am always a husband. If my wife asks me to do something, or I see something that absolutely cannot wait, I will try to get it done before my stressed wife has to ask me.
My family comes first before anything else.
I work at night because any other time, I have to worry about diaper changes and cooking hot dogs for lunch, washing bottles and sinks full of dirty dishes. My life as a father and husband is more important than anything else, and I prioritize my family before everything, even earning money.
But this is a problem.
I’m starting to realize that this is not sustainable. My mental health has not been an emergency, but I slog through my days with fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Voices follow me wherever I go. And worse, the relationship with my wife is suffering. We just can’t seem to find time for romance.
But the problems don’t end there. I’m finding that I need to spend more time writing and creating videos, and I don’t know where I am supposed to get the time. Like everyone else, I only have 24 hours.
What has to suffer for me to get the time I need to push my earnings higher? As a family, we can no longer survive on what I manage to earn and what I get from SSDI. I’ve spent too many years as a sick person, and I am so far behind where I need to be.
How will I ever get out of this hole I’ve been living in my whole life?
Yeah. My overall problem is money. Time is important only as a way to get more money.
I don’t particularly appreciate that I am so focused on money, but I’m in dire straits. times are hard and it is far past the time when I could feel bad about it.
Before the election, I knew it was only a matter of time before Trump and the GOP succeed in kicking most of us on Social Security Disability to the curb. And even now, with Biden, I still worry that at any time, the higher-ups at Social Security could decide that I am no longer sick and take away my benefits.
It’s happened before, and I was almost homeless because I didn’t get my benefits for a year. I still rely on SSDI because I can’t keep a job with my psychosis and episodes of depression and anxiety. My success as a provider for my family is very much at stake here.
I am hardly getting through each day working for myself — there is no way I could manage to keep a job. I don’t have deadlines now, and I don’t punch a clock, but there is still incredible stress to produce and earn, and each time I have an episode and have to take care of my health, I get further behind.
I’m not making enough on Medium, News Break, or YouTube yet to cover for the loss of Social Security if it goes away, so I need to be doing everything I can to make more money to support my family.
These issues leave me in a very tricky situation. Do I ignore my wife and kids to work more on earning and making money, or do I forget what I need to do to make my creative work more profitable and focus on the family?
As much as I don’t like it, we may have a solution. It involves my wife and I not trying to be superheroes and do everything ourselves. It involves stepping back and asking for help.
If we didn’t have to follow around a fussy but lovable baby all day, we could spend the time doing what we need to be doing. My wife wants to take on more English classes and teach more, and I need to increase the time I spend with my writing, video production, and everything that goes with it.
We found someone who can help by watching the baby, cleaning the house, cooking meals, and just helping out for a few hours a day, several times a week. We also will be taking the kids to the grandparents more because they always say they would like to spend more time with the grandkids.
We are not planning on disappearing — we will still be here to help and do our share. We will always be making the family our primary focus.
But my wife will be working longer, teaching more classes, and I will be putting more effort into creating and doing what I can to start earning the kind of money we need to get out of this financial hole.
I have to admit it feels like I’m selfish, letting someone else do what I should be doing. I’m used to always being available. I’m used to sacrificing my work time to take care of the family, and it’s going to be a bit strange focusing on my work instead.
But I know I’ll get over it. I have to. I have to step up and figure out a way to make more money, so I’m not at the mercy of Social Security, the GOP, and their crooked ways.
As crappy as it feels to say it, I must be spending more time working and earning — away from the focus on my wife and family.
Sometimes, you must do it for the good of everyone, and that is the lesson in all this.
Unfortunately, we need money to survive - because capitalism. And as much as it would be ideal that my wife and I could manage to work and take care of the kids and everything around the house, it’s just not sustainable.
We both have to work right now, and that means freeing up time.
You may be in the same boat as we are. The pandemic had made things harder for everyone, and we all are in situations that we would rather avoid.
The best thing we could do is not beat ourselves up for choosing to earn more money. In the long run, it’s all for the greater good. Sadly, we have to take time away from our kids, but that is life.
It’s essential that the time we spend together is fulfilling and we spend quality time focusing on each other.
After all, why are we doing this anyway? Why are we working so hard?