Coping with Writer’s Block

Image courtesy of authorlorilotto.wordpress.com

For months I found myself not even being able to look at my blog, or visualize writing at all.  I started to wonder if I still had it in me.  Knowing that I’ve persevered through Rheumatoid Arthritis, I figured, why not apply some of those techniques I learned from coping with the disease to my inability to write?  This is what I came up with:

First:  Research

Reading on the internet is one of my favorite things.  It’s easy to jump from one article to another, everything from asparagus and hangovers to Parkinson’s cures.  Please type in asparagus and hangovers and you’ll find your next go-to after-party treat…pickled asparagus are the easiest to keep in your cupboard btw!  I even love to read those trashy news articles about what stars are wearing, what they’re doing and all the comments that follow.  Why we call it news, I have no idea.  I read forums, blogs, and whatever else strikes my fancy.  I don’t have any real approach to my reading.  I’ll start at one article…like perhaps I have neck pain, and that will lead to something else and then something else, and yet something else again, and suddenly I’m on who dumped who and the worst dressed or some crazy bacterium that’s taking over the nation.  How did I get here?  That’s what a road block is all about, figuring out how to get out of that sticky muck.  Research was the only source that I could think of that would pull me out.   I couldn’t write, not for the life of me.  So I took a road trip, and began my research on “Writer’s block,” and found myself writing again.  Do you remember “clusters”?  Well I did it.  Remember all those writing tools we learned when we were kids?  Those tools got me started yet again.  Wikipedia, you are the best!

I realized, I hadn’t done this in a while, this wordpress thing.  I grabbed a piece of paper, I wrote down “Block” and just like you learned to do in school too many years ago to mention, I engaged in “clustering”.  First circle, “Block”-stone-brick-wall-lego–Writer’s Brain Fart-In the Fog-Stumbling Block.  Then I realized Stumbling Block was good, while Writer’s Block was bad.  That’s a strange one isn’t it?

Then I figured, enough of that…it’s time for free writing.  And here I am, writing whatever comes to mind.  So far, it’s quite scary…but maybe that’s because so much has changed in my life lately.  Maybe I didn’t want to reveal too much of myself.  Maybe I was afraid of not what the reader would discover but what I would discover.

I have been going through some really tough times.  Quite honestly, I did take to journaling before I took to blogging these last few weeks.  I didn’t do much of it, but in the wee hours of the night, when there was no one to call and cry to or ask ponderous questions, I wrote.  And when the next night would come and I’d find myself destroyed with sadness, every cell of my being completely swollen in emotional pain, I would read what I wrote the night before and then write again.  I would find, over and over again in this process that I lived, despite the pain and could move forward, in the smallest increments as each day passed.

I’m still in emotional pain and perhaps sometime I will let you know more about it….  but for now, just talking about that pain is all that I can do.  I know my pain isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and so I have looked to it a little differently than I did before, before it takes over.  Perhaps having RA has given me the tools of coping with pain and NOT expecting it to go away anytime soon.  Rather, learning new ways of coping is the best that you can do.

So what’s up next?  Well hopefully I’m going to be writing to you about what’s going on in my life.  A friend of mine just the other day told me the article I posted wasn’t good.  It was sugar coated, it was 2 buck chuck, it was muck. I was holding back.  I was afraid to reveal again the real me.  It’s like getting into an accident and fearing the road or the building, or whatever it was that was keeping you from putting one step in front of the other.  There is a lot going on with me, and no need to sugar coat things.  I hope in the days that follow that you get to know me again, but in a different way, in a way that I am learning to get to know myself.  One day at a time.

In the beginning…….

Sarah Keturah

Sarah Keturah

When I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis over two years ago, I was scared out of my mind. I worried that I would die early, my body would one day be filled with replacement joints, and that my quality of life had just gone downhill 100 fold.

With that, a variety of feelings came flooding in. I didn’t ask “why me?” but I did feel anger towards other people. I felt anger that they didn’t know what I was going through, that they complained about hangnails, colds and headaches and I felt anger that lots of people had advice for me. I also felt sadness of course that the life I once lived was now difficult and painful. And it wasn’t just any kind of pain, it was the kind of pain that had me crying several times a day. It was the kind of pain that made me think that child birth might be a piece of cake. It was the kind of pain that made me wonder how many months of this I could handle, and was my life over? My daily routine now consisted of a plethora of medicines with terrible side effects, some that made me scared I would one day have cancer.

Even before I was diagnosed, I pored through the Internet in search of what was wrong with me. I felt like I was dying. Surely I must be, I thought because my body every day was loosing functions. I could no longer turn my head or brush my teeth with ease. If I fell on the floor, not only would it cause excruciating pain, but I would be at a loss of how to get back up. I remember when RA was first starting, I was in a jewelry store and I had crouched down to look at some jewelry. I lost my balance because my knees were starting to be affected and when I reached the ground, I avoided putting any pressure on my wrists because they couldn’t bend or else they felt like they had just been broken. So here I was, in a public place and in pain, wondering how in the world I was going to get back up. And this was just the beginning, I wasn’t even at my peak of the debilitating stage RA can put you in. It was a couple of months later that sitting up from the couch required a helping hand. I was young and fit and yet my body was deteriorating at an alarming pace, swelling in all of my joints and developing noticeable bumps. Even my shoulder bones were poking out. When I woke up in the morning, it felt like I had smoked packs of cigarettes. My ribs constantly hurt. Sleeping was nearly impossible. My rib pain and other joints caused all positions except for lying facing straight up, too painful to bear. I woke up with every turn and twist. I couldn’t even stand the feeling of a blanket on my toes because the weight of the blanket on those small joints was unbearable. Am I exaggerating? Not in the least!

I had begun a new job, one in the industry and I was leaving my old one. My old job could have possibly started the inflammation process. I had been cutting cardboard for 10 hours a day using an Exacto knife. Hour after hour of constant pressure had turned my fingers into swollen sausages. It may have been just a coincidence, but in my opinion, this job had something to do with the onset of my RA.

In the first weeks of my new job, luckily my hands were able to rest. Not only were my fingers swollen, but they had eczema of some sort all over and I kept them hidden. The eczema was itchy and painful. I kept my illness hidden, thinking each day was my last. When I drove in the car in the morning of L.A. traffic I feared getting in an accident. Was I even capable of turning the steering wheel? My head certainly couldn’t turn easily any more. At night when I left my car, I didn’t even bother looking back and checking my surroundings. I wouldn’t be able to run or fight back. I felt as vulnerable as a newborn baby.

At this time I didn’t even have insurance and I was going to a local clinic. The doctor, who had a difficult time communicating with me, (English wasn’t her first language) finally prescribed Prednisone when I was on my last days of even being able to brush my teeth. Thankfully, this drug turned my life around and I was able to function a little better for some time before I got insurance and started seeing a Rheumatologist.

I began to talk about my disease to those who were close to me because hiding it was stressful and difficult. It’s hard to explain when you’re 30 why you can’t do something if you look perfectly healthy.

I realized soon enough that people just didn’t get it. Even in the very beginning as I became less functional and told my husband that I was looking into support groups on-line and I thought I had either Lupus or RA, his reaction was unhelpful. He didn’t want me to join a support group if I didn’t know what I had. It was as if he could just ignore what was happening and somehow it wouldn’t exist. I’m certain there was a part of him that didn’t believe me and felt I was making this disease manifest.

Time went on and my husband began to finally realize I had a real disease and it wasn’t in my head. I think all of my family “gets” that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately, unless they read about it thoroughly this disease varies from person to person, so much that even the person going through it doesn’t really know what to expect on a day to day basis.

I imagine that it’s not just Rheumatoid Arthritis that has this type of variety. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of learning about a person’s disease is, is to know that just because you read about it doesn’t mean you truly understand it. Even as part of a support group, I realize that just because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, doesn’t mean I know what another person is going through.

If you would like to be a contributor, please send your story to: sarahketurah@gentlehugscafe.com

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