Monday 26 July 2021

Spoonie Writer: Brainfog & Other Wonders


I've been doing a lot of spoonie writer pieces the last few months, and I think it's because my health, physical and mental, has been so up and down. It is another reminder that I am a spoonie, and that there's no getting away from it, no matter how much sometimes I wish I could. I didn't want to talk about taking breaks again, because I've covered that in detail, but I did wanna kinda do a lighter mood one. So we'll see how it turns out.

If you're a spoonie of pretty much any kind, then you've probably heard of the term brainfog, a lot of chronic conditions that fall under the spoonie umbrella are known for it. It's the idea that your brain is just filled with treacle and fog and that you're thoughts and ideas are a bit of a hazy mystery. You can see them, but you can't grasp onto them with any luck.

This year, in May, it was my 20th anniversary of falling sick with M.E and Fibromyalgia, of course we can't really pinpoint when I actually developed Fibro because I don't remember a time when certain trigger points weren't painful to touch, but we kinda leave it as the time I was diagnosed with it. I remember the weeks after I first had, what my GP was calling flu, and the way it just never went away. Those weeks were a haze of trying to do things, needing to nap all the time, and being 19, I wasn't really used to not having any energy, but for me the most annoying was the way things would fog up in my head.

I wasn't writing at that point, that didn't happen until after I was medically retired from my job, but I was trying to hold conversations with people and finding that it was a little like the Sims where someone cancels an action and they just stand there. I'd be mid-word sometimes and just unable to work out what I was saying, what I was there to do, and why on earth I was even out of bed. It led to some funny moments, and I know this happens to non-spoonies from time to time, but it was all the freaking time for me, and it was not fun.

I have always, in my adult life, and some of my childhood, had a cat of some kind, and I'd forget the name, or even the word for cat. It was frightening, but at the same time, I was aware that it was happening and would get frustrated and try and leave myself notes to make sure that nothing got lost. When I started writing, I was terrified of forgetting my ideas to the point where my notes were binders thick and I wrote as much as I could from first getting up to going to bed at night. That way I couldn't forget my train of thought, and wouldn't lose my place.

Of course that didn't last too long, the writing every day and all day I mean. I soon realised that so long as I made copious notes, and had them to reference, I was pretty much okay to pick up where I left off. In those days I still hand wrote and typed up in the evening, and it would take me several years, bar the first one, to finish a book. My point I guess is that part of being a spoonie is learning how to adapt and adjust to all that's going on. You want to be able to keep up with your work, while also not damaging yourself. Writing everyday and all day wasn't sustainable, and while I very much loved the feeling of being that productive, it wasn't something I could do long term.

In the years since I've managed to find hacks that work for me. Having the sticky notes and then the planner, the way I outline and create character cards, all of that works to help me stay on track, and it was a long time for me to kinda perfect that way I worked. I've been writing for also 20 years, and I've taken that long to find a way that works for me, and my circumstances, though I know that it changes and adapts as things in my life change.

So yeah, brainfog has a lot to answer for, and the other wonders that come from being a spoonie thrown into the mix don't help when it comes to creating, but even if it takes you 20 years, you will find a way to work. You just have to keep going, and tweaking this, and trying that, until you do find something that works.

How do you manage with brainfog and the like as a spoonie writer? Lemme know in the comments!

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