I won’t take long.
At least, not long for a long story.
I just want to share something and help set your expectations for the next month or so. I’ll try not to do too much dumping on you. 😉
First off (boring stuff first, right?), my writing here might be constrained for several weeks. Nothing severe (I should be able to post a few times a week, approximately), but because of an arm injury, I am supposed to be careful of how much/how long I do something.
Annnnnyyway. The interesting stuff.
It’s a story (but psst, sneak peak, it’s a true one!). It’s about a journey. I call it “The Great Two Year Arm Epic of Kat Frost”… sort of. I also call it “How I’m Becoming Something More Than a Chronic Writer”. Whatever works.
The Physical Damage
First, let’s look at what happened to my body, to better grasp what happened mentally.
Let’s set the clock back to December 2014. I was my happy normal self, in perfect health and in one piece. I wrote every day as much as I wanted to. Just like every writer’s dream. A freelancer with no strings attached. At all.
I scrubbed a stove, and my world has never been the same since. (Interjection: I enjoy telling life like it’s a story. Especially since it is.)
We’re not exactly sure what happened, except that it played out like tendonitis. It felt like a bad Charlie horse that still hurt after it wore off. Even after days had passed, I couldn’t clean the sink or stir my breakfast without pain. I’m left-handed, and it happened to be my left arm. Just like that, I’d lost writing.
Anyway, I have an awesome family and they covered so much for me and sacrificed so I wouldn’t strain my injured arm. After an eternity, it slowly, slowly began to recover. I could do a little measured work. I could write in small amounts. I was getting better.
Now set the clock forward to mid-February 2015. I had been working up to my regular work, which included scrubbing a bunch of carrots every week. We are carrot fiends. Average was 50 lbs. a week. I did that and was fine. The next week we needed “a smidge extra”, so I scrubbed 80 lbs. Two days later I flipped 3 dozen + chicken strips with tongs. My arm flared again, and we had to go into lockdown, no-strain mode again.
And then. A month later. My right arm, doing almost double the work having to make up for my left, started to flare.
Enough was enough. We went to the naturopath. (Note: My naturopath is AWESOME! She totally rocks. She listens to you and makes you feel like you’re not making this up or being a baby or anything, and she pursues your better health with warrior-ess tenacity. Thank you, Dr. Martin!) She prescribed physical therapy for me.
Here I am, 4 weeks later. Thanks to Pinnacle (and my naturopath, for directing me there) I am a new person. I’m regaining strength, building back up to where I was. I feel like I haven’t felt in months. I can type again, more extensively than I have since last year’s NaNoWriMo. My therapists never once gave up their belief in me, and even when I doubted (for like the first three weeks straight), that even they could do anything to remake what I had lost, they held on. They told me, “We won’t let you go until you are well and can write as much as you want”. They are committed and cheer me on. They even remember little things I tell them and check up to make sure I’m hanging in there and not regressing. And thanks to them, I’m able to fulfill a dream and start this blog. I can write again.
The Mental Half… The Real Story
“Half this bounce is 90% mental…” Tigger told Roo in The Tigger Movie. The same is true for my injury. While losing my ability to do my own things for myself was difficult (I am a very independent person!), that was not the most emotionally devastating part of the injury. Now, I don’t want to sound like World’s Biggest Drama Queen, but here’s the truth of it. I faced depression like I’d never known.
As my naturopath ultimately put it, writing was my “soul food”. I’ve explained about my “head stories” in My Writing Journey. Well, while I wrote in my head harder than ever, since I couldn’t type other stories up anymore, it didn’t provide the same soul sustenance that writing them down did. The feel and effect of writing the stories down, working on them every day and watching them grow, was somehow vastly different from thinking it out sentence by sentence in my head. It didn’t seem like it would be that different, but the core effect was as different as different could be. I was crabby, short-tempered, and depressed beyond any limit my brain could categorize.
This depression became what felt like a part of me. As if it defined me. I ceased to remember what living without it was like. In fact, I scarcely realized I was suffering so strongly, until one day it just clicked.
I tried coping mechanisms. My poor siblings got abused and beat over the head with the scraps of stories I’d been writing before I lost it. Reading what I had written down was one of the few things that seemed to alleviate the depression a bit. It didn’t make it better and it didn’t last long, but it was like a gasp of air for a drowning girl.
I won’t bore you with long agonizingly dragged-out descriptions of the time that passed in what felt like mental torture. My family understood about my chronic need to write, but no one else did. I still remember the wonderful satisfying feeling when I explained it to Dr. Martin and she was like, “Oh yeah! I totally get that! Writing for you is your soul food”. After that came therapy, and they worked in little bites of writing until now. And I can write again. Carefully and metered. But writing.
And on that journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (at least what felt like it), I learned something. I learned that I could be more than a chronic writer. I still have that inherent need to write, typing out on the keyboard, and it would probably still eat away at me if it happened again. But I learned that watching my brother work wonders in his graphical art/video game mod-maker is pretty darn cool. I learned that late-night heart-to-hearts with my sisters show what true friendship is all about.
I also had the privilege of seeing what real family is. How they gathered close to support me, sacrificed to cover for me, poured themselves out emotionally into my black hole of need. I couldn’t ask for a better support group or closer friends to pull me through the dark age.
I got to witness amazing people coming together to do amazing things and bringing their talents to the table to help… me. It was incredible. I wouldn’t choose to go through it again (or put them through it again!), but though it was rough to go through, what I learned I wouldn’t exchange for anything, “caskets of jewels and coffers of gold” (from The Reading Mother, by Strickland Gillilan), not any price! It was invaluable, as life’s lessons so often are.
And now I know how bad depression can get in me.
So that’s it, the (abbreviated, if you can believe it) story of my journey, and a peek at the darker side of me rearing it’s ugly head. Thanks for reading, folks!