This was originally written on November 16th, 2016. I have no idea why I didn’t publish it then, but I didn’t. Things have changed since then, but I’ll get to that later. For now, I’m just going to publish this like I intended on doing.
It’s been a while. It’s been a long while. Years, in fact. So, what happened?
Well, it took three years and two abysmal NaNo failures to figure it out. I once could rattle off 50k words without a hitch, pounding out 3, 4, even 5k words in a single day, but I can’t do that now. I couldn’t figure out what happened. Then, it hit me: January 2013. It started out as food poisoning, then spiraled into DKA, pancreatitis, and kidney failure. Almost a month in the hospital, a little over two weeks in ICU, ten days spent in a medically induced coma. That’s when the trouble started. Things seemed okay: I went back to work mid-March, switched to working days mid-April, and things started looking up. But they weren’t okay.
My life changed that January. I was officially diagnosed with diabetes and have dealt with it ever since. My asthma got worse again, possibly from the intubation, possibly from sick building syndrome, and possibly from a combination of both. And my depression came back, this time with a vengeance. I contemplated suicide for the first time since high school. It got so bad that it spawned panic attacks, the first I’d had in my entire life. I finally sought help. My doc put me on Prozac, and a few months later, I started talking with a therapist. I couldn’t afford to keep going to the therapist for more than a few months, but it still helped to an extent.
Things are definitely different. I watch my carbs. I check my blood sugar every morning and give myself insulin every morning and every evening. The depression comes and goes, though it seems to come more than it goes. A few of my childhood anxieties seem to have blossomed into almost full phobias: I fear being trapped in a crowd enough that I have to sit on the end of a row of people in case I have to make a hasty exit. I’ve become even more introverted than before, which hardly seemed possible. My mom swears up and down that a lot of the depression probably stems from the ungodly cocktail of drugs they pumped into me while I was sedated, though she only recently figured out that yes, I really was that depressed in high school. Although the depression wasn’t rooted in those drugs, they certainly didn’t help it!
So, what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo and blogging? I didn’t figure it out, myself, until recently. I’ve failed the last two NaNos despite the fact I’d won five in a row before that. I chalked it up to my depression sucking the life out of my muse; after all, November isn’t exactly easy for me. It starts with the end of Daylight Savings and the return of the seasonal darkness, which is hard enough, and it marks the anniversaries of two beloved cats passing: in November 2013, 11-year-old Squeaky passed suddenly the day before Thanksgiving, who was fine one moment, then gone the next; in November 2014, I had to put down my 19-year-old Tigger, my baby that I’d had longer than I hadn’t. Although the depression was probably a contributing factor, it wasn’t the whole story.
I met my best friend after all this happened – probably in April or May of 2013 – and I only told her all of what happened about a week ago. Yes, I’d told her I’d been sick and gave her some of the details, but I hadn’t told her the whole story. Between the two of us, we figured out that something else happened that January. I was bemoaning to her that I couldn’t seem to get back in my stride while writing, and she said I was being too hard on myself. We were both right. I looked back and realized the last time I’d won NaNo was in 2012. I didn’t do NaNo in 2013 because I was moving, but I haven’t written 50k in a month since then, despite trying both in November and in the summers. That’s when she said it was possible that those drugs messed with the part of my brain that controls my concentration. Things clicked. They finally made sense. I’d always joked that I was slightly ADD, more so after that fateful January than before. I had always seemed to hyper-focus on writing before, but now I can’t even write with music in the background (I could before), heaven forbid I should try to write with the TV on!
Yes, things changed, and you know what? I’m okay with it now. My writing is coming a little easier now that I decided I should just write as much as I can instead of beating myself up over missing 50k. I get distracted by little things and my brain hiccups at the end of scenes and chapters, but a little break brings my focus back. I can’t do a 15 or 20 minute word sprint as I get so distracted I don’t write any more than I did in a 10 minute sprint, but I’m not beating myself up over it any more. Instead, I’m going to hold my head high at whatever word count I end up at on November 30th, knowing that I’m still a winner. I’ll keep slugging on through December and beyond. I’ll get to 50k, and I’ll pass that and keep going until the end of the story. Yes, it’ll take me longer than it used to, but that’s okay. I’ll still get there, and that’s the important part.