I’ve seen a lot of people talking about invisible illness lately. Of course, in this social media firestorm we live in, everyone seems to be holding up their particular concerns like an ocean of picket signs. Perhaps I have only zeroed in on this particular discussion because it is something which concerns me as well. I’m not waving my sign and saying “Hey Notice Me! I AM HURTING TOO”. Not really. Though it is nice that I now have better words to use when discussing the issues with those close to me. But, what I am getting from the societal discussions is a recognition within myself that what I feel is real. And I’m not alone.
I’m struggling. I have been for quite some time. And I have done just about everything I can to dress it up, fight it, ignore it, and cry about it. I’m tired. So I’m not going to do any of that anymore.
I have depression. I have anxiety. I have chronic pain. I’m overweight. I am struggling with addiction to smoking. And my stress levels are uncontrolled.
Well, hello there. You too?
Here is an interesting thought one of my students brought to my attention. There is this misconception that in order to write, especially the good stuff, you must be a drunk, mentally unstable, chain smoking genius. Well, I am no genius, maybe that’s why it doesn’t work for me. All the other stuff really puts a kink in my writing process. No, I’m not a drunk. Thankfully that vice isn’t one I’ve acquired, but the others have been a constant battle. And I am so exhausted battling those demons, there just isn’t much left for my characters.
Due to this, my writing has slowed down. But I’m crawling up that particularly deep ravine and finding joy in life while finding ways to manage my illnesses. It’s a wonderful thing to see light in your life again. Even as you stand panting on the edge of that cliff, hoping you don’t fall back in.
One thing I can tell you about these experiences and writing–It sure gives me a lot to write about and new perspectives to complicate the lives of my characters. Life as a writer isn’t just sitting on your butt and writing words. It’s living life. It’s struggling. It’s watching the world around you spin in and out of control. It’s taking all the colors, dark, bright, muted, and brilliant and placing them on paper.
Am I ready to take my recent struggles and put them on paper, into the mouths of my characters? I don’t know. I honestly have no idea how this will go. I’m still struggling with my depression and anxiety. I’m still hurting every day. But I am learning to roll with it.
Soon, I’ll be back to torturing my characters with all the things a crazy life can throw at them.