Writer’s Block

Sometimes I feel like my brain is split in two, with one side compelled to be perfect in the eyes of academia and society and the other side wholly enamoured with the creation of art. And mostly art is writing, and mostly that writing is songwriting. I journalled through my crisis recovery at the start of 2015 and then I stopped. I stopped because college got busy and, as always, I chose academia. I stopped writing songs, I stopped writing blogs, because I ran out of time and I ran out of words. I told myself when I had time the words would come back.

I have no words. I’m sitting at my piano. I smash the keys because the notes sound wrong or derivative or boring. And the words sound cliched or too simple or too complex. You sit at the piano and you convince yourself that because you have so many feelings, you the capabilities required to turn this overwhelming web of emotion into something productive. To explain what it feels like to wash dishes and feel like this could be done in a better way, in a better place. To somehow illustrate the small piece of you that has been chipped away and stolen. To process the equally forceful desires for isolation and engagement. I have so many thoughts and not a notion as to how I can resolve them.

The World Is Very Large And Filled With People

I am making my glorious return to college today. I went in for one lecture on Friday and had dinner with friends, but haven’t started into that good learning yet. Having been sick for most of January, I missed the first week and all my intro lectures, and have been flicking through course outlines and grimacing at the number of group projects that I have to do this semester (it’s four. UGH.) I should be preparing readings and forms and my bag for the day, but I am not. What I am trying (not very successfully) to do is to prepare myself for what college holds: space and people.

When you spend a month in the company of a handful of people, in a handful of places, the world becomes self-contained and finite and manageable. And then one goes back to a 13,000-strong campus to complete a degree that you are essentially making up as you go along, and the world and society and the sheer amount of other humans that share this same space with you becomes massive and overwhelming and terrifying.

I do not mean to claim this in any agoraphobic way (a condition which I do not have), but rather as a niggling underlying set of thoughts and feelings that poke away at the consciousness to reveal the chaotic shape of society. These instructions to focus on my own little bit of the world, coupled with my inability to put a pin in the larger injustices and marginalisations that surround us, leads to this overcoming awareness at the expounding volume of the population.

I have become quite adept, over the years, at maintaining a calm demeanour at all times. The occasional straw-breaking-the-camel’s-back meltdown pops up every now and then, but for the most part, I keep a good face, a haphazard balance between mother and mystique (or so I tell myself.) This allows me to go through the day and (to some extent) interact with strangers and acquaintances without revealing my increasing discomfort around anyone who does not fall into the categories of family or close friends.

Things are boring. Classes are boring. There are too many thoughts and hardly enough brain space to order them into a rational fashion. The world is very large and filled with people. Writing helps. Even when it’s an incoherent ramble.

 

Why We Write

So often in my life, I have gone through periods without writing a word. No blog posts, no songs, no articles, no essays, no journals, no nothings. Zero. Zilch. Although reading is always a joy, and assignments frequently a necessity, I sometimes see little point in engaging in such an elective activity, particularly when I am tumultuously busy. In the last fortnight, I have been fervently journalling and banging out chords on my piano, as well as tentatively recommenced with blog posts. What has changed? Primarily, I have nothing but time right now, but that’s hardly the point. I wonder, as evidenced by the plethora of blogs, books, ballads, and bands at our disposal, why it is that we are compelled to express, to create, to write?

We exist. We survive. We do what is necessary to withstand the world. We build high, thick walls, which emotions, cumbersome and loaded, are unable to break through. And so in this ineptitude of basic human expression, we turn to alternative means. The pages which fit through the cracks. The harmonies that float around the fortress. The rhymes and rhythms and rondos and ritenutos that explain the overwhelmed self far more clearly than our anxious, disorganised minds could ever articulate. Writing is catharsis. Art allows us to endure, even when the product is not particularly inspiring. The blank page wilfully takes the haphazard array of post-it notes on the board of my mind without judgement, and sits with me consolingly as I blindly try to make sense of them.

We write to inform, to impact, to interest and idealise and intimate. Even if it is only to ourselves. These songs, these musings, these diary pages, these blog posts; they are self conscious and meaningless and rarely see the light of day. But the simple act of articulating, asking yourself “What is happening? What am I doing? What in the world does any of this mean?” – these private moments guide us, presenting mini epiphanies and bursts of awareness in the most trying times in our lives.

In the last ten days, I have learnt so much from my scrawled musings. Simple things that are a given to so many have taken these twenty two years to hit home. I am starting to realise that I am not stuck with the choices I make now for the next forty years. I am trying to remember that plans change, and that’s okay. I am understanding that responsibility is the cost of freedom and choice, but that it is worth the undertaking. January has been a difficult, horrible, awful month, as months go. But writing has helped, and writing will continue to help, and in the face of emotion (blunted and painful and otherwise), I write.

 

New Year Yoga or How I Learnt To Stop Hating Chair Pose

2014 wasn’t a big yoga year. I stopped because my twenty minute sessions were bumming me out and I was reluctant to do longer sessions because I had neither the time nor the patience for long hold poses. My all time least favourite pose is Chair Pose, or Utkatasana in the Sanskrit, which looks like this:

Image from Yoga Journal

You hold Utkatasana and you feel it in your hamstrings, your shoulders, your core, your glutes. Hold it a bit longer, you tire. You hurt. You want to drop down into the fold and relieve the tension and sensations that now flow throughout your body. You hold the pose. You make the choice to continue to hold the pose.

In Utkatasana, I am present, I am intentional, I make decisions. Some days, I do modify, and I bring my arms to centre. But this too is a conscious choice, not an avoidance. Most days, I make the choice to hold the pose.

I don’t like facing unpleasant sensations, unpleasant feelings, unpleasant situations. I like to avoid. I like to procrastinate. I like to distract myself. I don’t do emotion. I detach.

I am not dealing with things, yet. But I continue to hold the pose.

Avoiding Crash and Burn

Written the the first week of my diagnosis. TW: internalised ableism

The title suggests that I speak with knowledge and authority about how to avoid crashing and burning. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

Yesterday, I did 10 minutes of the workout app that my sisters use to keep fit, and that was cool. I did a whole ton of writing and work. I went for a thirty minute walk. I went for a short trip to the doctor. I was pretty okay at the end of the day. I fell asleep around one, which was a little late, but overall, no big deal.

Yeah, I thought. A new treatment for a new diagnosis, a new lease of life. Back to normal (or what passes for normal.) I went to sleep, happy in the knowledge that I could have a semblance of a productive day.

I woke this morning in such tremendous pain that I wondered had I forgotten my Lyrica (I hadn’t). I was overwhelmed with fibro fog (which feels not unlike a bad hangover when you get it first thing in the morning) and nausea. I turned on my computer, but the words wouldn’t come. I turned on Netflix, but had to continuously pause it so I could run to the bathroom to get sick. I lay on top of my bed for a while until the feeling like I wanted to die passed.

It did pass about an hour ago, and I played a little guitar, and briefly Skyped the American, before having enough control over my thoughts to ramble on my own blog (but not to complete writing that I am paid to do.)

Fibromyalgia, it appears, is a lesson. Balance, everyone says. It’s all about finding the balance. But how do you find the balance when your choices are total exhaustion or total lack of productivity? I am afraid to do anything that might steal what little energy I have, but if I don’t push I will never adjust. If I have to stay in the house all the time to avoid constantly feeling like I’m going to vomit, how am I supposed to do anything in life?

Spoon Theory would suggest that I need to become more aware of how I am using my energy, and making the hard choices of what activities are most important. This is a good principle. It is just very disheartening when you remember that standing up for a whole shower took at least two spoons that you could have used on preparing for the giant big-deal debating competition that’s coming up in two weeks.

The unpredictability is terrifying. The need to cancel plans mere hours before they happen is terrifying. The thought of being out of the country for ten days without family members or spoon-savvy friends is terrifying. And I don’t want to live my life in fear, but I also don’t want to spend in bed suffering from the aftermath of my antics.

I feel bad for not being able to do things. I feel guilty for not having the energy to get a part time job and help pay my way. I hate that I am complaining when it could be so much worse. I hate that I want to cry a lot, but instead of crying my brain decides it is more productive to call me fat and check the calories of what I am eating.

But I also hate that I am rife with this internalised ableism. I hate that people seem to consider fibro an inconvenience that plagues multitudes, in the manner of IBS. I hate that everyone is telling me that diet and exercise is the answer. I hate that I want to rebuff everyone’s reassurances that it will be fine.

Because it might not. In all likelihood, I might not be able to become the person I want to be. And I will do something else, and that will be okay, and it will work itself out one way or another. But I need to space to grieve that girl. That girl who was going to change the world, taking names, and never shutting up about human rights. Whether she ever could have become anything is beside the point.

Things are different now and I feel like I cannot process and be upset and deal with the fact that I have a chronic illness, because everyone is trying to reassure me and tell me it’s not so bad. But it is so bad. Right now, it is. Right now it feels like the world is ending. I know it’s an overreaction but I feel like crap. And soon, I won’t. It won’t be so bad, and it might even be good again. But my blog is the one place where there is precious little need to put on the calm, professional, emotionless face that I use to deal with the world.

So here. Emotions. frshukfdshiosd;uiofrsdhikjfsdxkljhdfikjdhsxcuoi;weumzrg€frj.gvdegopg:JOv\zdfd\shl frdknvflfsouuio.

 

/Rant

The In Between Time

I don’t blog much anymore. I am on Tumblr a lot. I reblog because other people say things so much more knowledgeably than I ever could (and also because I like Hannibal gifs.) But I feel like I require the catharsis of blogging even though I pretty much can no longer see the point. I originally started blogging because I read a lot of blogs and many of my friends were writing them and at 16 years old it seemed a super cool thing to do. That was six years ago. KateNap is six. That’s over a quarter of my life. In time, blogging became less about being cool and publicly discussing the struggle to pick a university, and more about giving back to a part of the internet that I felt had helped me. I found hope in blogs about the struggle to recover from bulimia, so I wrote about my burgeoning recovery from bulimia. I learned about the queer community, so I wrote about my experience within the queer community. A tit for tat, as it were, for all the help I had gotten from strangers on the internet over the years. 

I look back and wonder whether writing about my life and struggles was in any way useful to anyone or was it simply an exercise in selfish egotism? 

Is there any point to writing articles or writing poetry or writing songs when no one is ever going to read them?

Is blogging, and reblogging, and discussing and talking about sexism and racism and ableism and queerphobia, and trying to be educated, and allying with and defending other oppressed groups ever going to change anyone? Even slightly? Even my own friends? 

Is it sheer narcissism to believe that one person can have an impact, that the negativity and the shade and the arguments are worth it at all?

Is it ridiculous to think that we will ever live in a world where certain people won’t be seen as second class citizens?

The eternal struggle is wondering: what’s the point? Why finish college, why start a family, why attempt activism or alliance, why make an effort, why continue to live in this merciless and unforgiving world, when ‘shut up and sit down and accept that that is the way society is’ is all you will ever gain from it?

I am lost in the time in between trying harder than ever before and just giving up and falling into line with the rest of the world, and honestly, either outcome terrifies me. 

500th Post Encouragement

June 21 2009 was post #1. This is post #500. 500 posts that you, dear readers, have spent allowing me to narrate and whine and wax lyrical about my life. I don’t know why a diary is better with an audience. When I first started reading blogs, I read them for inspiration and encouragement. I have over the years frequented many a genre, from fitness and running blogs to ED recovery blogs to self love blogs to queer blogs to Christian blogs and everything in between.

I’m not sure if my ramblings help anyone. But I think I am more coherent in the written word than in real life. The world is an unlovely place. But I think its possible to survive it. We just need the help of others.

I once asked the American how he could be so lovely to everyone. He said that he was just trying to get people to see themselves in the way that God saw them, even if it was just a little bit.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV). We struggle on. We keep trying. We lean into people. We lean into Jesus. And we’ll encourage each other as we go and we will survive.