Writing For Sanity

I’ll say it bluntly, I was in danger of losing my mind.

I spent my adolescence in doctors offices and as part of medical trials. I was sick and we didn’t know why. Doctors were throwing diagnoses and medications at me like they were the darts and I was the dart board; forever searching for that elusive bulls-eye. I missed a lot of school and was unable to participate in many of the things people my age were supposed to. It was not easy.

Fast forward to my last year of high school. I had a new diagnosis and a medication that started to work. I was finally feeling better. I was finally a normal teenager. I could not have been happier. I was able to go off to college where I had the time of my life. Things could not have been better for me. I had tons of friends, was dating, and even joined a sorority. I thought I would finally be able to have a normal life. I would go on to get a great job and start a family. That’s what I hope would happen anyways.

After college I moved home and started to get sick again. The diagnosis was proven to be wrong and we were once again back to the drawing board. I was crushed. It might have been better if I had never had those good years at all; if I had never know what it felt like to be uninhibited by disease. The worst part was that it came back worse than ever. I had trouble even leaving the house. I spent more time in my bed than on my feet.

As you can imagine, my spirits were low. I’ve always been a happy person but the depression began to creep in.

I began to write.

I spent hours upon hours every day carefully crafting my words, never imagining anything would come of it. I created my own world. I focused on building characters that could do great things. I began to think less and less about my problems. Instead, my thoughts turned to unwritten chapter ideas and dialogue possibilities. Two months went by and I had my first draft of Dawn of Rebellion.

My illness had always left me feeling useless. I could accomplish anything. I was never really good at anything. I didn’t really have a passion for anything.

Until now.

Writing this book saved my sanity. It also made me realize that I am a writer and I have a story to tell. As long as I keep writing I can get through anything. Whether I sell 1 book or 1 million books, that’s not the point. I write because I love it. I write because I need it. I write for that one person out there that may be struggling and looking for a little inspiration as well.

What do you do?

What do you do for a living? It’s the standard question when meeting someone new. Everyone asks it and most people have a simple answer. It’s as if that one question can tell someone who you are so they can decide if you’re worth their time. If your answer is interesting, they will want to know more. If you say accountant or banker, they change the subject quickly. If you say that you work at McDonald’s, well… you get my point. We’re all guilty of it; judgement. It comes as naturally as breathing unless we fight against it.

The “what do you do” question is kind of scary to someone like me. I don’t have a quick answer. I don’t even really have a long one. People are always telling me to make one up but I don’t like to lie and have never been good at it. When I meet someone new, I usually say that I’m on disability and can’t work. For some people, that is enough because they realize it’s none of their business. Most people, however, are curious by nature. They follow up with question after question until I’ve explained everything I would rather not talk about with strangers.

So, what do I do? What does anybody do when they don’t want their job to immediately define them? I spend most of my time writing. I’ve published one book and have one on the way but I will probably never make a good living from my writing. Can I tell people I’m a writer?

There is a lot more to my life than my disability. There is a lot more to a lawyer than the law and a homeless man than his lack of a house. If we can’t change the stigmas attached to our employment, maybe we need to change the question.