Hello my fellow writers. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and we know what that means:
It’s time for another meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group – #IWSG.
The amazing Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh founded this amazing group and it has become THE PLACE to go if you are an insecure writer.
It’s also the first anniversary of the IWSG website which has been an inspiration and godsend to many of us.
I have had a love of writing since I can remember. In elementary school, I would write and illustrate my own storybooks to read to my ‘class’ of stuffed animals and Barbie dolls.
I always thought my career would involve writing in some way, but that didn’t exactly happen. I raised a daughter as a single mother and worked as an Executive Assistant in Corporate America until 2000. After losing my dad in March, 2000, I became an Emergency Medical Technician. I lost my mother a year later.
I dedicated over a decade to helping the sick and injured, until November 2011, I became one of the sick. Standing up from a sitting position, I felt a heat rise from my lower body to the back of my neck and snap like a rubber band; it was the worst pain I ever felt, yet it only lasted about 30 seconds. Immediately, I felt nauseated. My former roommate drove me to the local Emergency Room. Halfway there, I was semi-conscious and seizing. Thankfully, no time was wasted pulling over to call 911; she just kept driving.
A CT scan revealed a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage in my brain. Since the hospital was local and not equipped for a brain hemorrhage, they flew me to a Level 1 Trauma Hospital. I had brain surgery the following morning. I suffered an ischemic stroke during surgery, a common side effect. I spent nearly a month in neuro-surgical ICU fighting for my life; my left side was useless, my speech was impaired, and my memory, focus, and concentration were severely shot. After ICU, I was sent to an inpatient rehabilitation facility where I spent another month, learning how to use my left side, to speak, walk, concentrate, and focus again.
‘What does any of this has to do with writing?’ is a question you might ask yourself. In my world it means everything. My writing is what keeps me going. I am still recovering; my brain is still recovering. I can walk now, slowly, mostly without the assistance of any mobility devices. I speak fluently now unless I’m distressed, then I tend to stutter. Badly. My attention span, focus, and concentration have improved, but I work on it constantly. Writing helps. It makes me focus. It makes me concentrate. People look at me and don’t see any visible signs of brain injury. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes they need to be reminded, gently. Writing allows me to do that. It allows me to write out possible teaching moments when I can’t find the words to express what needs to be said verbally.
It is one of the first things I made myself relearn once I started stroke rehab. My Speech therapist encouraged and helped me with it, as did my Occupational and Recreational therapists. I cannot work outside my home, not yet, anyway. I struggle to get better physically, emotionally, mentally, cognitively, and spiritually. One thing is certain, I never give up, ever. I consider myself too lucky to have gone through so much to think anything is beyond my capabilities. I cannot and will not let this disability define who I am, and neither should any other writer who has a dream like mine. Let nothing or no one stop you.
- Do what you can, when you can.
- If lists help you organize your day, then make one. Every task checked off that list is something to be proud of. Remember that.
- Take multiple breaks. Sitting in front of the computer without taking breaks will actually hinder you, not help you.
- Eat right, even if it is multiple small meals a day. Taking care of yourself is top priority if you want the energy to put out stories that others will enjoy.
- Stay hydrated. Drink, drink, and drink plenty of fluids.
- Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. This is a difficult one for sure for anyone who suffers chronic and neuropathic pain as I do. Do your best. During one of your multiple breaks, squeeze in a nap if you can.
- Surround yourself with positive people. No matter what it takes or how long, find a positive support system. During my deepest depression when my real life support system failed, I found my fiercest support online until I was able to find my freedom. This small group is now a part of my extended family. Find yours. It will make all the difference.
- Most important, believe in yourself. I have the encouragement of family, a miniscule number of faithful friends, and some very special blogging friends that believe in me. I believe in you.