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.