By: Ariel Fixler
This is dedicated to my fellow fierce scribes who told me to keep writing on a daily basis.
Do you have some inner thoughts that you need to let out? Try writing and documenting your journey in the less than idyllic land of the ill. Your words, thoughts and prose does not have to be a public display for the masses.
Your writing can be an internal memo to yourself. It can be a daily reminder of the craziness and how strong you truly are. Writing can be as private and public as you want it to be. It can shine let on your silence. It can shine light on your soul. It can ignite a spark inside of you that was once deemed unlit.
For me writing was my main forum of therapy. I embarked on mainstream therapy as well as support groups, alternative and traditional medicine. Writing was my main alternative and effective approach. It sometimes made me rise above my anger and pain. It sometimes documented my pain. I wrote purely and candidly about my struggle. I had two forms of my written journey
THE PRIVATE SIDE:
My email draft box and my notes on napkins. I have so many emails in my Gmail draft box that were my therapy. Whenever I had a moment when I was struggling against my disease, my support system, my doctors and nurses I would write them notes that I would never send. No recipient in the addressee line. Just plain venting and honesty. I have over 300 emails I never sent. It may sound silly to everyone but have you ever fired off an email you regretted? An email filled with anger and words you wish you could take back? We all do. Well drafting an email, putting your emotions into words can help soften the blow of your anger. It is not a cure-all by any means, but it is a strident step and effective outlet. I always have advised my friends, fellow patients to try this methodology before going down the route of firing off their emotions in a missive. That irrational email (which you may think is totally rational) may miss the mark and alienate others. So much can be misinterpreted online and in an email. There is no tonality in an email and if there is, it can be largely vague and unclear at times. When I didn’t have breathing problems I even used a microphone app to record my thoughts to hear my own tone and amplified voice.
My other private methodology was “notes on napkins”. Transcribing my thoughts during my odd “awake” hours and when I couldn’t speak when I was on a ventilator. I let the vent doing my venting and it was thought-provoking. Here is an example of reflections on my condition during that time.
THE PUBLIC SIDE:
I had my blogs, my articles and this foundation. It was a way for me to free flow ideas and let others know about what the process of illness was truly like. It was a look inside of my overflowing brain, a peek into my heart, my soul, my emotions, my vulnerability and my life. Disease can mute your voice and make you self isolate and hate the world. You can be weighed down by anger and jealousy that is too heavy to carry on your own shrugged shoulders. Writing can give you a voice and give you some form of your life back. It is a way to open up and allow your support system to see how you are handling the effects of treatment physically and emotionally. So they in turn can emotionally prepare. Through your words they can be an effective support in whatever manner you allow them to be let in. You may think well I am not a writer that is for the more verbose and creative type. Well give it a try before you assume. I didn’t start writing until much later in life. I am so glad I did. It strengthened by mind when my body was weakened and riddled with the effects of treatments. I even reconnected with my AP high school English teacher (Mrs. Freeman). She was moved by my writing and encouraged me to no end. She mused and moved me. To make her proud and inspired was one of my greatest joys as a scribe. I cannot tell you the value of her praise and feedback.
So if you are struggling to handle your diagnosis, disease and treatments think about putting the pen to paper or key stroking your creativity and journey. Writing will always be there for you. The page can remain blank when your mind is blank and grappling for the right words. It doesn’t have to be consistent. You can return to writing and pick up like no time has passed. It is that kind of friendship.
You have so much inside of you that may need a public forum or private ventilation. You may want to start a writing group (you can make it private amongst your support group, password protected and only open to fellow diagnosed peers and illness partners). Some of my fiercest illness warriors did just that. They had private blogs and sites where I could read their writing and help support their journey in a privatized manner. It made me feel connected to them especially when they wanted to disconnect. Writing for me gave me peace of mind and equally allowed people to see a piece of my life.