Sunday, January 12, 2014

Writing During a Chronic Illness

Most of you know that I suffer from debilitating migraines. I've had a good, long stretch of headache-free days (Thank You Jesus!) and productivity has been high. I've been revising a bunch of short stories, writing new ones, playing the piano, cooking, cleaning, and living what I consider a *normal* life. But how quickly that can change. Harry can arrive at any moment and stay for days. Why yes, I've named him, just as I did my monthly visitor. That one is George. Harry and George often come together, but Harry shows up whenever he pleases. No walls keep me safe from him. So I end up doing only the essentials, and one of those is writing.

If I am on deadline, I focus on getting *something* done on the project. Since my creativity is low with Harry, I'll focus on things like revisions and photo-research. Or if I'm at an early stage of the writing, I'll study the subject, making notes of interesting tidbits I don't want to forget. Even though it is slow going, I am usually able to get the work done. An interesting thing I discovered is that the quality of my writing is not correlated to Harry's visits. I write equally beautiful or horrendous prose on any given day. So I do not pass judgment until sufficient time has passed.

If I'm not on deadline, I'll work on a favorite project, write in my journal, do a blog post, visit the Blueboards, write to friends (often begging them for prayers), or read. All these things help me to keep writing and connected.

It is so common for us to offer advice along the lines of "take it easy" or "rest and recover" and surely that is the right thing to do many times. You've just had a baby, or you are acutely ill or taking care of someone who is sick. That's life. 

But what to do when you live with a chronic illness? You can write. Have faith that all the little bits will add up eventually. It's very important to know what you can reasonably do given your condition. There are days when I think I cannot do anything. But I try not to give in to that despair. Sometimes, after a good cry, I can muster enough courage to write something. And amazingly, I am happier for doing so, even if all I managed was to complain to God on the page. 

Write this upon your heart: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 


Mirka Breen said...

Couldn't help noticing that you chose names the British royals often bunch into their long first names. And male names, at that.

I have no idea how you write with a migraine. I never had one, but I've been told they are not ordinary headaches, and I don't think I could write through even the usual variety.

Bish Denham said...

All I could do when I had migraines was curl up in bed with the pillow over my head and moan. I admire your ability to do what you do.

Vijaya said...

Mirka, I was surprised that they were male ... I don't know why. But my best friend in high school came up with George :) You are right migraines are different than the typical tension headache or one that you might get with the cold or flu. It's a hammering inside. My husband can feel it when he rubs my head.

Bish, oh, I cry and moan too, but the compulsion to write is strong. I truly believe I couldn't if it weren't for the grace of God.

Marcia said...

Yeah, Harry might as well be male too, since George is. "George" was also the name I learned in middle school, BTW. And I had the same thought about British royalty!

Faith E. Hough said...

A always, you inspire me, Vijaya. The beauty you can bring forth in your suffering is all the more breathtaking because of it.
I like the name. :) It adds a new meaning to "feeling harried."

Anonymous said...

I haven't had migraines in years- not sure I could have written through them but that probably would be about the only thing I could have done just to have some 'release'. I totally understand the compulsion.

Vijaya said...

Marcia, I never made the connection to British royalty until Mirka pointed it out. Made me laugh.

Faith, I confess I have to say "Thy will be done" 50 times a day.

Carol, I cannot do many other things, and being able to write has been a great gift from God.

Anonymous said...

I only have migraines once in a while...and they wipe me out. I can't imagine having them all the time. You amaze me! I am still praying for your healing -- and thankful you are able to get stuff done in the meantime!


Molly/Cece said...

Hi Vijaya, I miss you. I don't have have all those guys but I have my own friends that visit me regularly. Writing is to me what song is for a songbird. Birds sing and I write.

I try to take each moment one at a time. I alway find grace in each moment, regardless.

Vijaya said...

Donna, thank you for your continued prayers. I need them.

Molly, grace is everything, no? You are blessed to be able to find it each moment. I'm not there yet. I'll have to make a road trip once Max is ready to drive. Am I insane or what? Miss you too.