Vicious Cycle

Hey all, I know I’ve pretty absent lately and I’m sorry about that. I’d hoped to be more involved over the break, but actually the opposite happened. I know I haven’t kept up with things or been as engaged, but it has nothing to do with you lovely people. So I thought I owed y’all a bit of an explanation and a little look into the other side of my life, that unfortunately has very little to do with writing.

If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know that I’m chronically ill, including a heart condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. I’ve been lucky enough the past year or so to be doing really well, with mostly good days with a few scattered bad ones, versus bad days with a few scattered good ones. I’d hoped that meant my condition was improving, or at least I was able to manage it enough to live a relatively healthy and full life.

Well, lately that’s been changing. I’ve had more and more episodes, more sick days, more days trapped in bed. The worst part is always missing out. I missed out on a lot of family time over the holidays, I missed out on parties and a lot of my social life, and now I’m starting to miss out on school and am dreading the semester ahead.

I wanted to spend the break writing, but honestly in two months, I haven’t even written enough to fill a page.

The problem is there’s a lot of times that I’m too sick to be writing, but then the rest of the time I don’t feel like writing. I feel frustrated, helpless, trapped, alone. It’s like having this big, heavy leech on my back all the time, sucking everything out of me.

It’s scary to think that I’m getting worse, that I might even relapse to the severity that I was before. I don’t want to be stuck in bed for three months again. I have huge plans and goals for this year. I don’t want to lose all of the things I love, especially not writing, and especially not this amazing writing community. This is when my body reminds what it really means, and what it really costs, to live with chronic illness.

I’m trying to turn to writing to help me through this, but sometimes it’s just hard. It’s hard to break this cycle of feeling sick then feeling down, with no space for writing in between. I’m hoping I can shake this soon, but I also know things don’t always work out the way we want them to, something I’ve been learning the hard way lately.

Thank you all for sticking around, even though I haven’t been the most present and engaged. Please be patient with me. I’ll do my best to post and respond to all of you, but know that I read and value every single response I get, whether I’m able to respond or not. Sometimes your comments are the highlight of an otherwise dark day.

I hope I can get through this soon, at least get back to writing, but with chronic illness you really never know. Either way I’d really appreciate prayer, positive writing vibes, whatever you can spare right now 🙂 Thanks, and hope to see more of y’all! You really are all the best.

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Worthy of the Week

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Hey all! Sorry I missed the post last week, as you may know I’ve been sick lately. But here is this Friday’s Worthy of the Week, a weekly breakdown of things worth sharing. If you like what you see, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 Check out the others here

Inspiration

These beautiful, haunting, surreal photographs.

   

The second two are by Kyle Thompson, who is a phenomenal photographer and artist, and more than worth looking up.

Issues

This week has been one of tragedies. Two huge celebrity deaths, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, and the ongoing violence in Ferguson. I think it is so important that we let Robin William’s death and suicide bring to light an often avoided topic–mental illness, depression, and suicide. I have heard many different reactions to this, varying from celebration to damnation, saying he made a weak, selfish choice and left his family behind. But I think a lot of people with that reaction have never experienced anything close to what it is like to wrestle with depression. For them, and everyone else, I have this video. I’ve also heard it compared to those who jump out of burning buildings–they don’t want to jump, but it feels like the only alternative to being burned alive, but the people on the ground don’t understand unless they have been in a burning building themselves. And this video captures something I think is so hugely important for how we deal with and talk about his death. Regardless of how you feel, he was an amazing man who touched so many lives, and it hurts my heart that he was in so much pain he saw no other option.

Words of Wisdom

Being sick and stuck in bed this week, I really felt this next one. I love books because they give me freedom, even if I feel stuck in this sick body.

INSTANT DOWNLOAD Mason Cooley Reading Quote by artkeptsimple

Worthy of the Week

Untitled23

Hey all! Thanks so much for stopping by, here is this Friday’s Worthy of the Week, a weekly breakdown of things worth sharing. If you like what you see, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 Check out the others here

Inspiration

Art, as always. I think these pieces speak for themselves.

Breathless,Fine Artist Portrait Painting, Artist Study with thanks to Artist Danny O' Connor, Resources for Art Students, CAPI ::: Create Art Portfolio Ideas at milliande.com , Inspiration for Art School Portfolio Work, Portrait, Painting, Figure, FacesPassions- twilight 7005  Rikka AyasakiSaatchi Online Artist: Yuliya Vladkovska; Mixed Media, 2012, Painting "One sweet goodbye"  Want this for my home!

Issues

This week, I watched Lee Thompson Young’s funeral tribute on Rizzoli and Isles. It’s been a while since he passed, and he was in the rest of last season, so this was the first time being confronted with it. Wow. I was surprised by how much emotion I had for someone I had never met. Even worse, it was so hard to understand. For those of you who don’t know, he committed suicide. He was clearly successful and had a bright future ahead of him, and was much loved by his costars and everyone around him. But that’s the thing: suicide doesn’t make sense. Depression and mental illness don’t make sense. They are a chemical imbalance–there is no logic. And sadly, I think there’s still so much stigma. Hopefully, his death will show people that they are not alone in their struggle, that it is okay to not be okay, even when it seems like you should, and that there is always help and people who care.

Words of Wisdom

This week I’ve spent some more time sick and in bed, more time with emotions and feelings that I don’t know what to do with–and as always, I can escape to my writing. There is something almost magical about how healing books can be.

Reserved Item for butterflywishesllc by farmnflea on Etsy, $15.00

How Writing Saved My Life

I have debated whether or not to write a post on this for some time, but am finally relenting. When I decided to start this blog, I knew I didn’t just want it to be a fluffy, happy, light blog about writing and trying to become an author. I wanted to be honest, and not just write about the happy, pretty things. I wanted to use this as a platform to talk about the difficult things too, the things people don’t always like to talk about. It may be early on to dive into it this heavy, but regardless, here it is.

More or less this has been the most difficult week of my life. Not only did another episode of illness knock me out for a week, but as I was starting to feel better I lost someone close to me, in a completely unexpected tragedy. Now I am not telling you this so that you can feel bad for me. As I am going through this difficult time, I am realizing again what an impact writing and art have on my life, and I know that I am certainly not alone. I hope that for anyone else going through trials right now, this can be helpful to you.

A while ago, my friend and author Lindsay Cummings posted a video with her testimony, titled How Books Saved Me (you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhZsgDNGtug). Our stories are nearly uncannily similar, and it was part of the reason we became instant friends. I have been chronically ill for most of my life, and was undiagnosed until about a year ago. My last two years of high school were when my illness was at its most severe. It started when I became sick with mono–which I would find out later often triggers postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS. I struggled with extreme dizziness, weakness, and twitching (which I now know are all part of POTS) and most days I couldn’t walk, even the few feet to my bathroom, without help. I was literally trapped in my bed for three months, and as a 15 year old junior who had just moved to a new state, this was about the worst it could get. My fledgling friendships quickly died off when I disappeared from school, and even my friends back home whom I had grown up with eventually lost contact. Outside of my family, I had no human interaction. I could not have been more alone.

Even as an introvert, this was incredibly difficult. I am a very independent person, so to be entirely dependent on others for everything was hard. Outside of sleeping 16 hours a day, there was little to occupy my time. I felt alone, useless, and completely worthless. With no diagnosis and no foreseeable cure, I couldn’t see an end to this hell. I was a vegetable. How was this life even worth living?

Though my condition was not life-threatening, I felt like I was waiting to die. At that point, I would have welcomed it.

(There’s a happy ending to this, I promise!)

Enter: writing. As I’ve said before, I’ve been writing my entire life. It was certainly nothing new to me. But one thing depression does is suck all the enjoyment and love for your passions and hobbies. I was plagued by the ever-blinking cursor at the top of a blank page. Anything I did write felt dull, lifeless, and boring. Worthless.

But after three months, I had run out of Netflix movies and Friends reruns, and I was losing my mind. So I began to write, and the words spilled out of me like somewhere a levy had broken.

They were messy. They were dark and ugly sometimes. I wasn’t writing because I wanted to be an author, or even because I wanted people to read it. I was writing for myself. Though I didn’t know it at the time, through writing these characters, their story, and their emotions, I dealt with mine. It was more healing than any therapy. Through untangling the mess of their lives, I untangled mine. And before I knew it, I was staring at a blinking cursor at the end of a finished book, and something changed. I had accomplished something. I wasn’t a vegetable anymore. I wasn’t worthless–I had written a book. I was a writer.

This moment felt worthy of fireworks and endless ice cream (there weren’t any fireworks, but plenty of ice cream) but it was more than that. I had reawakened something inside myself. For the first time in months, I felt alive. 

I eventually improved enough to where I was no longer confined to my bed (thank God) but through the roller coaster years of illness, doctors, and hospital visits that followed, writing has been constant. I have gained and lost friendships, struggled through school, and been through more than my share of boys and breakups. In my crazy, unpredictable world, it was an anchor, and it still is.

While I am in a drastically better place than I was a few years ago (I am diagnosed and coping with my illness, though it is untreatable, as well as managing college, new (much better) friends, and an amazingly supportive boyfriend) life always manages to throw curveballs. Sometimes, like this week, it knocks me off my feet entirely.

It gets better.

At that time, I couldn’t see an end. My uncertain future used to make me lose hope, but now it excites me. There are so many unknown surprises and opportunities just waiting! If you are ever at the point where you can’t see an end, please don’t give up. Find something you are passionate about. Painting, writing, music, LARPing, whatever. Something that reawakens you and makes you feel alive. Fight for it. Beat it. And come out 10x stronger.

And as I have learned this week, time is so precious. We don’t know if we have five decades left or five months. Though he died too young, Vincent lived every moment of his 30 years on this earth to the absolute fullest. He was an inspiration and role model to me, and still is. It may be cliche, but life really is what you make of it. Cherish the highs, each little moment. But also appreciate the lows, learn from them, and grow stronger.

Slow down a little this week. Take the time to watch the sunrise, or make a really good cup of espresso and enjoy it instead of inhaling for the jolt of caffeine. Open a door for someone. Walk in the rain. Hug someone you love, a little too tightly.

Time is precious. Art is one of the great gifts we get to experience in this world.

It may even save your life.

 

And now that you know more about me (maybe entirely too much), I’m curious to know a little about you. What are you passionate about? What impact has art had on your life? What have you overcome, and what or who inspires you?

Share this post with someone who needs it, and spread a little love this week.