As a reader I have learned of the tragic lives of many well known authors. Riddled with stories of anxiety, depression, suicide and addiction, it often makes you wonder if you can be successful without facing tragedy. Many contemporary authors seem to pride themselves on their caffeine addled brains and comparing how little sleep we all get, unable or unwilling to discuss the real struggles. (I am 100% guilty of this myself) But what we fail to realize is that the stories we write aren’t always spun from tragedy. So when tragedy strikes how do you come back from it?
Dealing with Anxiety
About two weeks ago I went to see my doctor for hives and left with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. I was a bit confused at first, but what she had to say about what I was experiencing made sense so I went with it. Ironically enough hives are a major symptom of anxiety. When I would wake up from a sound sleep with an array of strange symptoms, I was suffering from panic attacks, and I didn’t even know it. I’m sure you are wondering what all this has to do with tragedy. A anxiety diagnosis is about as common as the flu now a days. Well it doesn’t have anything to do with tragedy, it’s just the icing on the cake.
I have suffered my fair share of loss and difficult times throughout my adult life. It’s not something my husband or I broadcast to people because they are things we face as a couple. Working together through the hard times is just part of being married. In my eyes, going through life with a best friend, someone who is simply your person, is the best part of marriage. However, last week we faced a situation that could be explained only as a tragedy. It is something that has turned our entire lives upside down and we still are trying to figure out which direction to go from here. It’s one of those experiences when the people around you keep asking what you need and you can’t even answer them, because you still don’t know.
Creatives and Tragedy
The problem is, when I read and learn about people like Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf it makes me wonder how they made it through. When faced with tragic events, social unrest, and unkind humans my default is wanting to curl into a ball and ignore the world. When everything happened last week my world came to a crashing halt. I didn’t publish my blog post, I ignored social media, I didn’t edit my WIP, I barely made it through my day job and, I didn’t even pick up a book to read. Instead I did my best to breathe, sleep and feed my family. That was all I was capable of. This leaves me wondering… how did they do it? Or didn’t they? Were these amazing works of art created in the good times or the bad? During the highs or during the lows? Maybe a bit of both?
There are many people in this world with struggles far greater then my own, however at the end of the day it isn’t a requirement to become a successful creative. These things that happen are terrible, they require life to stop and dreams to be reassessed. Goals need to change and writing, reading, and self care all has to take a back burner until things are set on a new path. In today’s environment you can’t always handle things quietly on your own. Instead your personal struggles are blasted all over social media by others who feel they are “doing good” with no idea what those repercussions are. It makes creativity seem impossible because life is all consuming.
For those of you who have struggled, what have you done to heal? How did you work through everything and get back on track? Is it even possible?
The more we can share with each other the less alone we will all feel. It’s time to reach out to a friend and say, I hear you… that may be all they need.