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Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I Write

Patients For A Moment (PFAM) is a patient-centered blog carnival to build connections within the community of people who blog about illness, disease, and disability. Sharon, at Bed, Body & Beyond, is hosting the next edition of the PFAM blog carnival. The topic is: "Why do you write?"

I've always loved writing. When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading and writing... and that love has stayed with me. Writing is part of who I am - it allows me to express myself, it gives me a voice, and it helps me to process information and emotions.

EXPRESSION

Writing offers me a way to express myself, in ways that nothing else can. I've always been one to where a mask / facade, and only reveal to others what I wanted to... which often was very little. I'm still not incredibly comfortable opening up to others, but writing helps. Of course, I also had to get past the initial fear of sharing my writing with others. Besides school papers, work reports, and some select poems I'd written for specific people... I'd very rarely shared my writing with others. So, I had to overcome my fear and give myself permission to both express and share myself through my writing. It's been such a freeing experience to allow myself to be seen, through my words.

A VOICE

Sometimes I feel like others don't hear me. I've never been a loud, "in the spotlight," attention-demanding type of person. It can be quite aggrivating because there are times that I have something to say (or times that I actually say it... over and over... and no one hears or listens). Writing allows me to say what I want to say, without interruption. And, the beauty of writing (at least for me), is that it's not essential that others even read it. I enjoy writing, regardless of whether the audience is one or many.

PROCESS

Simply put, writing is how I process things - information, emotions, experiences... life. I don't always know what I'm going to write, I just place my fingers on the keyboard and let the words flow from them. This was incredibly fascinating to me, in college. I'd have to write a paper... I procrastinated and waited until the last minute... but, thoughts were formulating and processing inside my head... and then I just sat down and typed it up (followed by a lot of editing, lol).

Being able to write things out is especially important for me, now, because my mind works differently than it did before my accident. Things don't make sense, I can't find the right words, I forget what I'm talking about, I have trouble focusing and completing thoughts, my memory doesn't work very well, etc... All of these things were completely foreign, and writing has helped ease some of the cognitivie difficulties I've experienced... writing helps me to form complete thoughts and to remember what I've done, how I felt, and so forth.

JOURNALING

I kept a journal through part of college, and I've tried to start a new journal because I really enjoy writing in it... there's just something about putting a pen to paper that I've always enjoyed. But, I wasn't able to write much for a long time after the accident, due to me injuring my right shoulder (typing hurt, too, but I was able to do it more quickly than writing). Since, blogging is essentially journaling online, it was a natural "fall-back" to writing in a journal... and it's been an interesting outcome of my chronic illness.

BLOGGING

I guess, technically, I started a blog (does anyone remember Xanga?) back in college, so that I could keep family and friends updated on my adventures in Europe during my semester abroad. But, I didn't start my Chronic Migraine Warrior blog until a couple months shy of the 2 year anniversary of my car accident. I wanted to write about my thoughts and experiences... and, if it helped someone else, that was just a beautiful bonus. I don't know that I would've started up a blog, if I didn't have a chronic condition / disability.

Before my accident, I didn't really have a need to keep track of how things were going or what was going on because my memory worked just fine. However, that changed with my accident. Suddenly, I was being bombarded by doctors and insurance companies asking me detailed questions about my life with chronic pain. The problem was... I couldn't remember! I had no idea what I had done yesterday... sometimes, I couldn't even remember what I'd done a few minutes before.

So, I utilized my blog as a way of keeping track of some of what was going on and sharing things that I learn through my own journey (about meds, migraines, insurance, etc...), but I also wanted to have a way to help keep family and friends up-to-date. It's a bit ironic, actually. With one of the driving forces being to update family and friends on how I'm doing... there are only a small handful that actually keep up with it at all (and I'm so thankful for you guys!!!). Most have just melted away. Thankfully, I've been blessed to find a community of bloggers that are so supportive, many of who have become dear friends of mine.

WRITING & DISABILITY

Writing has definitely taken on a different meaning, since my chronic migraines began (in October 2008). I (foolishly) thought that being unable to work would give me the opportunity to read and write more... while that's great in theory, it simply isn't the case. Sure, I have the time to read and write, but I don't have the energy (or cognitive ability).

I've heard that a quite a few individuals didn't really begin writing until they were faced with a life with chronic pain. I find it interesting. I've always loved to write, but I really hadn't done much of it, after I started working full-time (out of college). I quickly got pulled into the "rat race"... I sometimes wonder, when or if I would've returned to my passion for writing... or, would my dreams of writing just melted away?

Now, one of the reasons I keep writing is to (try to) keep my sanity. It can feel like I have so many thoughts and ideas inside me, but I can't get them out. It's frustrating, when I'm not able to write for a while (physically, mentally...). I admit, it can be difficult to keep writing, while enduring constant pain, cognitive difficulties, depression/anxiety, and so many other aspects of living with a chronic illness. But, the rewards can be tremendous. As I continue on my own journey, living with chronic pain, I'm learning how to pace myself and take baby steps toward my goals of writing.

By the way, I wrote a post back in April about Why I Write About My Health. It was actually interesting to read it and see what I'd written (of course, it didn't even dawn on me that I'd written it until after I'd already written this lengthy blog post)... So, I apologize for: 1) this being such a long post, and 2) clearly not being as concise and straight-forward as my previous post... Damn you, migraine-brain!

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say" - Anaïs Nin

"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish" - John Jakes

3 comments:

  1. Jamie,
    Thank you so much for writing this thoughtful post and contributing it to the PFAM carnival! I really appreciate the care that went into it, the detail. I wanted to find your Twitter handle to tweet a thank you, but haven't found you yet. I'm @aftergadget.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just had a Captcha pop up after I wrote the comment, or I would have included this. Many people with disabilities cannot do word verification. Would you consider disabling this feature on your blog? If you are using "new Blogger" apparently you can report it using the Send Feedback option in the Nav bar & for now you can switch back to "old Blogger" to disable it and then switch back again. A couple people have done this and it worked.

    Here's a post you might find useful: http://aftergadget.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/waspish-wednesday-about-captcha/

    I know you may not have the spoons for this, but I wanted to provide the information so you'd have the option to consider it.

    Thank you again for contributing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sharon,

    Thank you for hosting the PFAM carnival. I'm still reading the many wonderful posts that people contributed. Currently, I don't have Twitter.

    By the way, thank you for the information about the word verification. I've tried to take care of it a few times now (even using that post you sent), but I haven't been able to. I have been using the "new Blogger." I switched to the "old Blogger" and made the change, so it should be gone now...

    ReplyDelete