Writing Versus Chronic Illness

Full disclosure: I have a chronic illness that causes me daily pain (yay) and tires me out easily (more yay). Latest diagnosis shows that it has to do with hypermobility in my joints. I also suffer from chronic migraines, which means I have anywhere from 10-20 severe migraines per month. Let that sink in. I’ve had them for 20+ years now, so I can manage around them, but they’re still a freakin’ PITA.

Because of this, I am too great a risk for employers. They feel I could explode in the workplace and that’s just bad manners. That’s why I started my own company copywriting, translating and editing about nine years ago. It’s going pretty well. Freelance work is uncertain, but I’m able to work from home and mostly set my own hours. Woke up with a migraine? No problem, I can take my meds, start work later and work until midnight. (Most of the time, although sometimes I have deadlines that just don’t allow any leeway.) Because of the uncertainty of the work, however, I have longer hours and work weeks than normal people. Alas, I can’t remember the last weekend I had off.

I don’t mind. It’s better than doing nothing, and I do fine.

When it comes to writing, that’s when it gets tricky. Like, super tricky.

After a long, 14 hour work day, everything hurts, I’m exhausted and I sit at my laptop and tear out my hair, going, “Bluuuuuh. Writing is soooo stupid. Uuuuugh.”

When I leave that phase in the rearview mirror and enter a more reasonable stage (for certain values of reasonable), I think, “I worked all freakin’ day. I’m in pain and I want to go to bed. I’m allowed a break. I don’t have to write. It’s a hobby, not a job.”

That’s where I go veering off the tracks. See, it IS a hobby, not a job. I worked all day, my body is killing me, maybe my head feels like a goddamn supernova on crack, so I deserve some time for myself, some time to spend on my hobby. Which is, you guessed it: writing.

When I don’t write for a while, I get cranky. I get depressed and restless. It’s interesting how easily I (and maybe some of you) dismiss that when it’s time to put pen to paper or keys to screen and actually do it. No time, too tired, too hurty, too much self-pity, too sad, too ugh.

When you’re chronically ill, it’s easy to feel like life owes you — or at least should ease up on those ridiculous demands — because you’ve been dealt a relatively shitty hand. It doesn’t. The only one who can make your life better is you (and possibly Chris Evans), and writing is good for you. So why not push through that pain and exhaustion and do it? It gives you an outlet, it keeps your mind busy and it’s just plain fun.

I promise, it does get easier the more you do it!

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