Writing Saved Me from Going Insane

I thought I was healthy, but my body kept telling me something was wrong. I quashed all symptoms with medication, Diet Coke, junk food, and alcohol. Soon, I was having trouble taking in deep breaths. Walking became difficult. My hair was falling out, but my family doctor said everything was fine.

Migraines struck me with increasing frequency. The big toe on my left foot ached, as did my kidneys. My body began to reject foods I had been eating for my entire life. Rashes and hives appeared all over my body when I ate coconut or cheese. No matter what I did, I felt tired, so very exhausted. I had no energy to write. Sleeping became my favourite pastime. Depression threatened to make my world small and dark.

One day, when I thought I was doing better, I shat blood. I knew then I had to make changes. If I didn’t stop to ask myself what I wanted, I was going to get sicker. When I slowed down to listen to my body and let my mind be still, I discovered that the thing I wanted most was to heal. I needed to be well so that I could write again.

I have a theory that writing is what saved me from going insane before I figured out how to best handle suffering. Without this creative outlet, I probably would have had a mental health crisis years ago. It’s kind of like how Kanye West turns to music to channel his demons. Somehow, I needed to clear the fog I felt every time I sat down at the computer. There had to be solution.

The flesh and how it can fail us — this has been my obsession since last November. I love blogs where people detail their health journeys down to facial warts and pus oozing from old wounds. Raw honesty delights me. I’d like to do the same, so I am going to document my experience here and share what I am learning.

I have another wish: I want you to be well enough to make work. What books or songs or movies or paintings or performances are missing from the world because many of us are too unwell to deliver on our fantastic ideas?

My plan is to post book reviews, resources, recipes, and wellness tips. I know that not everyone has the privilege to eat organic food and supplements or buy high power blenders for smoothies, so I will do my best to focus on change that doesn’t require a massive outlay of cash. We all deserve to be well, no matter who we are and how we experience the world.

Most of the time I don’t share that much about myself online. Being vulnerable doesn’t come easy to me. But last month, before returning to Vancouver for medical appointments, I posted on Facebook that I was having health issues and might only be up for walks and tea during my visit home. I worried that this was an overshare, a total bore, and that I should stick to posting videos of cats playing the saxophone. Instead, I received so many loving comments and personal messages from friends, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years. People were happy to plan picnics rather than meet in bars. All I had to do was be honest.

This show of support made me understand that no one heals alone, that we need a community behind us to reach our goals. That night, with this swell of kindness enveloping me, I was sure that I would be well again.