I am going to deviate from this month’s subject questions and drift off on my own tangent. A bit on the whiny side, so you can skip it if you like. This month’s IWSG prompt is a lot more positive than what’s below.
My writing trends up and down with stress. Unfortunately, it isn’t consistent. I banged out a whole rough draft for a romance novel while a close family member and I were dealing with a medical crisis, but I never wrote at all while I was a Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scouts for a year and a half.
I complain that I’ve no private space in which to lock the world away so I can write, but I feel like I’m a lousy parent when I do. Aren’t there 8 million other, more responsible and immediate things I should be taking care of rite now instead of deeply pondering how, exactly I can hurt a character and still keep an audience?
Writing is a wonderful release, and it’s getting ever harder for me to do.
Despite my efforts, I have been in increasing pain for years. Supplements, exercises, diet plans, physical therapy, mentally challenging apps, meditation, yoga, cannaboids, journaling, coloring, acupuncture, massage standing desks, exercise balls, the list goes on.
My mental state has gone from “mildly off” to “quite noticeable” My mental focus has been fraying for years, my memory is not what it was even 5 years ago, and learning something new is a painfully long and awkward process, now.
They say that if you’re worried your mental state is decaying into dementia, then you don’t have dementia, because those with it don’t realize it’s happening. But there are times I feel like Robin Williams–He had undiagnosed Lewy Body Dementia, and was aware of his declining mental state, often saying “I just want to reboot my brain.”
“Oh, it’s just the COVID-stress. You’ll feel better when everything gets back to normal.”
Except I’ve got journal entries dating back to 2012 in which I talk about feeling a decline in my mental state, well before COVID.
It’s terrifying when you write and grope for words that were on the tip of your tongue in recent memory.
My feet, knees and low back have deteriorated to a point that there is always something aching, at all hours, day or night, despite my efforts. There are nights during which the weight of the top sheet on my feet is enough to make me whimper in pain.
Structural issues, the vast majority of them. The roll of the genetic dice finally playing out against me.
“Losing weight and exercise will help.”
When you’re always in pain, it’s hard to do. Being in my mid-forties with an endocrine disorder doesn’t help. And when you spend between 30-90 minutes everyday doing some form of physical therapy, some form of exercise, the lacking results and professionals who don’t listen are disheartening at best.
It’s hard to write when every position, sitting, standing or laying down, hurts to some degree. It’s a non-stop distraction.
There are periods when the idea of writing is too depressing, too hard, too painful to consider.
Occasionally there are days in which the Muse whispers sweet nothings in my ear and I sit and work, gleefully unaware of the pain (still aware of my declining vocabulary, but held up by the “word barf first, then polish it shiny” philosophy).
On those days, when I stand up, it’s a frightening process: I use my arms to leverage myself out of the chair or off the ball slowly. The pain in my sacrum screeches at the position shift. I shuffle around the room like an old lady—tiny steps, slightly bent at the waist, trying to tuck my tailbone to counter the over-strong muscles of my back. I bite my lips a lot, to prevent more than a whimper of sound escaping because EVERYTHING HURTS. The balls of my feet ache as though they’re being beaten by hammers. My knees throb and don’t want to bend or straighten. My sacrum protests, insisting someone has seized it and is trying to wrench it out of position.
And that’s only after sitting for an hour.
There are days when the pain isn’t so bad. There are periods for days or weeks when I’m only mildly uncomfortable. Days like that are a challenge—there’s soo much backlog, it’s hard to know what I should focus on. I try to do a little bit of everything so I can say I made progress in every direction, but it’s hard to see it as progress. It’s hard to accept that some of the flitting from chore to project and back again is because my focus is shot.
Doctors aren’t terribly helpful. I’m usually dismissed as a lazy housefrau who isn’t willing to do the hard work involved in maintaining physical and mental health. I don’t want pills, I want solutions, but trying to dig down and show them “We’re missing this issue over here” is a great deal like shouting in the wind.
My only refuge now is writing. When I write, when I really get into the moment of a scene, I can forget the pain, the shitty day, the nagging to-do’s, the failed therapies. My muscle tension is less when I write regularly. I’m calmer when I write regularly. I can pretend like I’m normal when I write regularly—a normal person with goals and dreams that are actually acheivable. I’m not limited by the phrase “I can’t because…”
But it’s so incredibly difficult to do—the distractions of children and the lack of an actual officespace are a part of the problem, but the pain is becoming more and more of a deterrent as well.