It wasn’t the little break in my life that I had hoped for. I was going away, by car, for the first time in three years. I thought I was prepared. I’d told my online world I’d be away from social media for five days and I had packed enough painkillers to sink… well, me! So imagine my surprise to end up in hospital in a city I no longer lived in, surrounded by unfamiliar sights and sounds, regardless of how much pain medication I had taken.
OK, this blog is usually about writing, in some form or another. But really, it is about me and my relationship with writing. Which has stagnated ever since I became ill. Somewhere along the road, I went from writing something like 3000-6000 words a day, to barely making a short story of 7000 in two months. Even typing this is causing my body to ache and my eyes to twitch. Though I am, of course, using my rather sexy and impressive red goggles that are meant to help with screen time. There they are – with my little dragon Nilofar keeping watch!
The trouble is, no blog about a writer, her writing, and her on again/ off again relationship with writing, is a complete picture without adding the ups and downs of things. And not writing enough, not being able to think through the pain, ending up in hospital simply because I was in a car for more than an hour, are the downsides which all add to the picture. Hopefully, it gives me an out for not adding another story to Daniel and Nilofar’s adventures… (for now!)
The trouble with long term, chronic illness on the inside, is that my outside can look all kinds of relatively normal. I can appear just like everyone else. Here’s me with shorty short hair, having a laugh with mates. What you don’t see is me going home to lie in bed for hours to get over the fact I actually had a laugh with mates.
This is the problem with invisible illness! I think it contributes to a lot of misunderstandings as well as to my constant state of bedridden-ness (hey, I’m a writer and thus reserve the right to make up words at will) and hospitalisations. I try to pretend I am the person you see, instead of admitting that I can’t keep up.
I sat in that car and while we stopped every thirty minutes so I could rest, walk, move to unlock the aches, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I was coming back (the joys of going away, no matter how ill it makes you, you have to get back!) that I made life a little easier with a blackout face mask to stop my eyes triggering another migraine. It works kind of like these red goggles do for screen time. I placed the eye mask on and even the flickering of sunlight and shadows you can see with your eyes closed was gone! Magic.
Yes, travelling home still made me feel ill, ache all over, head spin and I promised myself never again (until I have to!), but at least when I got home, there was no migraine or hospital trip to show for it. Point one for me.
What has this got to do with writing and this writer?
It’s a snapshot of how life is a compromise. If I want to visit someone, or enjoy a cup of something with you, or even put up a blog post or hope to write the next instalment of my novels, then I need to keep up with my precautions. NO late nights. NO long times on laptops or TV watching, or long car trips. Rest. Recover. Peace and quiet. Allow for the space for the body to feel comfortable. Allow myself permission to not be doing all the time, or at all really, and hope that my characters will slide back into the achy brain that causes me so much trouble, alive and well, and ready for their next adventure sooner rather than later.
I can write something every so often, or I can make it to my appointments, or I can see a friend. Seldom can I do it all. Not this month. Maybe not next month either. So patience is becoming my friend. As is the tranquillity of a garden (see photo above) designed to seep peace and mindfulness into anyone who sits in it. And I have a day bed set up outside when sitting is no longer an option!
I hope all is well with you, and all your endeavours are going to plan.