Finding the Balance - Writing with a Chronic Illness.
I’m a writer. It took me a while to be able to say those words with a straight face, as it just didn’t seem real, but I can finally do it. I Am A Writer.
I’m also someone who suffers from an invisible, chronic illness. That’s a lot harder to admit.
I’m ashamed of the latter, proud of the former. Yet they both influence my every move, every day of my life. What’s the difference?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I don’t want to be a person battling an invisible, chronic illness.
I want to be healthy, normal. I want to be able to do things other people, normal people, take for granted. Like walk five miles. Or park at the back of a hot parking lot on a hundred-degree day, and not have the threat of passing out out by the time I get to the store hang over my head.
I’ve gone through fifteen years of tests and misdiagnoses, doctors and specialists, and more prescriptions than you can shake a stick at. None of them could help me. I had to find the answers on my own.
For a long time, I thought I was lazy. I thought this lack of energy, this inability to do things that everyone else seemed to do with very little effort, was because I’d not been trained to do things as a child. I was spoiled and pampered, I freely admit, and it took me a while to grow up. But even as I matured mentally, I still wasn’t getting there physically. Sure, I was overweight and that has something to do with it. But I knew other overweight people who could run circles around me.
I went to doctor after doctor after doctor. They all did the same tests, and told me the same thing. “Your thyroid is normal. All your labs are normal. If your labs are normal, it must be in your head. You’re depressed. Take these pills and you’ll feel better.”
But I didn’t feel better. I gave up on the medicines, and walked away largely from traditional medicine, thinking there was no hope to be found. About twelve years into the journey of chronic illness, I started going the natural route. I found some things that worked for me. Using those things, I found answers. I started being able to think clearly for the first time in years. I knew I was dying, and I knew I had to keep searching, keep changing. So I did.
I’m now fifteen years into the journey, and I’ve learned a lot. I still have a long way to go. But in the meantime, I started writing. That’s one thing I do sort of owe to my chronic illness. If I had been able to work outside the home, I don’t know that I ever would have put pen to paper. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and something that no one, not even people who had known me in high school, were surprised by when they found out. It surprised me, but that’s another story.
There are days when all I feel like doing is sleeping. Getting out of bed requires too much effort. Other days, I can’t focus enough to complete a sentence, much less the 3,000 to 4,000 words I like to accomplish every day as a minimum when I’m working on a project. There are migraines, brain fogs, and oftentimes that harsh, unrelenting fatigue. But there are also good days, and those are starting to outnumber the bad.
When I’m writing full-time, I’m usually “in the chair” about fifty or sixty hours per week. On top of that, I manage the small business my husband and I run from our home. That takes about thirty hours per week. There is no way I could possibly have done these jobs two or three years ago, before I started changing my life. Even now, when I’m doing better than I have in years, it’s a struggle most of the time to get things done. I persevere, though, because I’m not willing to give up and roll over.
I don’t get a lot of housework done. Thankfully, my husband is a great guy, and he helps. We don’t have the cleanest house on the block, but we do okay. And we’re fine with that. Sure, it’s nice to have a clean house, but not at the expense of your health. (By clean, I mean “eat off the floors spotless,” by the way.)
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve come to realize, aside from all the dietary/nutritional information I’ve learned, is that I have to forgive myself for not being perfect. I can’t do it all. Maybe someday I will. Probably, though, I’m always going to have to struggle to do ordinary things. The struggle might not be as hard some days and weeks as others, but it will always be there. And that’s okay. Because I can only do what I can do, and as long as I push myself to do my best, then there’s nothing to be ashamed of if I’m not Superwoman.
I am a Writer, and I have a chronic illness, and that’s okay.
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: September 23rd 2012
The mysterious recluse…
Owen Campbell holds himself apart from other people. Badly scarred from emotional wounds that have never healed, he doesn’t expect to find true love or happiness. He remains isolated in a prison of his own making, determined to not let anyone close enough to hurt him again.
But his willpower is shaken to the core when Sarah Browning enters his world.
The girl next door…
Sarah Jane Browning is three years into her college degree when a call from home changes everything. Back at the family homestead in the heart of Appalachia, she’s forced to reevaluate her hopes and dreams for the future.
Distraction from her heartache comes in the form of her parents’ neighbor. Whispers about “odd Owen Campbell” abound in their small community, and Sarah’s curiosity is aroused. When she breaks the rules and trespasses onto his land, what she finds is beyond her wildest imaginings.
As Sarah struggles to overcome tragedy and loss, her burgeoning relationship with Owen is sorely tested. Will love conquer all, or will the secrets from Owen’s past tear them apart forever?
Firefly Hollow is the first in a new Romance series by T. L. Haddix, author of the Shadows/Leroy Collection, a series of standalone Romantic Suspense novels. Titles include Secrets in the Shadows, Under the Moon’s Shadow, Shadows from the Grave, and Hidden in the Shadows.
Near Hazard, Kentucky
Sarah Browning hurried through the halls of C. D. Napier High School, her head down.
She was desperate to reach the girls’ restroom before her tears overflowed. With a frantic sob,
she pushed open the swinging door and raced into the largest stall, slamming the door shut
behind her. Finally, in the privacy of the quiet bathroom, she let herself cry. The bell had rung
two minutes earlier, signaling the students to return to class from their break, so Sarah had the
restroom to herself. She was going to be late for biology, but she didn’t care. Her sister’s betrayal
cut too deep. Kathy had really gone too far.
Sarah had gone into the drama room at break to ask the teacher a question about the
upcoming production of Death of a Salesman. Kathy was there with her boyfriend and his
friends from the basketball team, including Paul Turner. They were all gathered around the stage,
joking and cutting up, and didn’t notice Sarah come into the room. To Sarah’s horror, Kathy was
talking about her.
“Little Miss Priss. She thinks her shit don’t stink. Paul, you ought to ask her to the prom
and then dump her right before. I’d love to see the look on her face.” Everyone laughed, with
Kathy laughing the hardest.
“That’s a little mean, Kathy. Your sister’s a nice kid,” Paul protested, but only after he
“You can’t say you enjoy having her make cow-eyes at you, Pauly,” Randall Begley said.
Kathy’s boyfriend was always looking for an excuse to make fun of someone. “Besides, Pauly
likes his ladies to have a little more on top, if you know what I’m saying. More like you, baby
doll.” He leered at Kathy’s chest.
Kathy squealed, and the group again roared with laughter.
Humiliated, her face on fire with shame, Sarah carefully backed out of the room and ran
down the hall. Hiding in the bathroom, she didn’t know how she would ever find the courage to
face Paul again.
Ever since eighth grade, Sarah had had a crush on Paul Turner. He was the kindest,
handsomest boy in the world, at least to her. She had always admired him from afar, so when
she’d been assigned to work with him last week for drama club, she had barely been able to
contain her excitement. Those tender feelings had been destroyed today.
After her tears had stopped, Sarah finally came out of the stall and went to the sink. Her
face was splotchy, her eyes red and puffy. She splashed cold water on her face, patting it dry as
her mother had taught her to do. A few droplets of water fell onto her blouse, and as she blotted
them, she cringed. Randall’s words were cruel, but they were also true. She didn’t have much in
the way of a bosom. It didn’t seem fair. Kathy’s chest was huge, too big in Sarah’s opinion, but
the boys seemed to like it.
She studied herself in the mirror, trying to see her image as others might: straight, dark
brown hair, blue eyes, a smattering of freckles. She was taller than some of the girls, and her
daddy teased her that she’d soon be taller than her mother. Sarah didn’t think she was ugly, but
she didn’t think she was all that pretty, either.
Mama tried to reassure her that she’d blossom, but Sarah was convinced it would never
happen. She was destined to be as flat as a board for the rest of her days. She’d die a lonely old
woman tucked away in a tiny cottage at the back of her parents’ property with only a herd of cats
and a flock of chickens to keep her company.
She wadded up the paper towels and threw them away, then gathered her books and
headed for the door. She wasn’t going back to class, not with humiliation still stinging her
cheeks. She decided to go to the school nurse’s office and see if she could stay there until the
final bell rang in a couple of hours. The nurse was stern, but understanding. Sarah would say that her stomach hurt, which wasn’t a lie. Hopefully by the time she had to come back to school and
face Paul again on Monday, she would have an idea of what in the world to do.
and Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, to her current favorites from authors like Tami Hoag, Alex Kava, J.A. Jance and Lisa Kleypas (among many others), T.L. still finds refuge in the written word. "Growing up, I wanted to be everything - astronaut, police officer, doctor, teacher, reporter, psychologist - there was no clear choice for me. I wanted to do it all. Becoming a writer has allowed me to do just that, because I can live vicariously through my characters."
A resident of southern Indiana, T.L. is hard at work on her next book, when she isn't chasing after her three cat-children with her husband.