Many people that do what they love find obstacles in their health to overcome, sometimes driving them to success, or at least, consistency at what they do. I think of athletes with asthma, and actors (or anyone) with rheumatoid arthritis. My mother taught school 25 years with a severe inoperable spinal deformity and continues to struggle in retirement.
So with me, as a new author, I’ve dealt with the affliction of migraine headaches for twenty years. It’s part of my life, like diabetics who follow their blood sugar and give themselves insulin. I’m not a neurological specialist, but have seen my share of neurologists and thankfully have one that takes good care of me.
Migraines are very common, though the percentages are variable depending on which article/book you read. Women tend to have them more often, but men are not left out. I know all-too-well the advice about avoiding red wines, certain cheeses, and any monosodium glutamate product. Like bad weather, they are triggers, but I inherited mine from my mother and grandmother. Instead of having the ‘auras’ I just get the pain and sometimes intractable vomiting during the especially bad ones.
So how does a chronic illness, whether it be migraines, diabetes, arthritis, amongst others affect the new author? Answer: A lot. My illness explains a lot of why I watch so many films, as during a headache it’s easier to rest and watch instead of type a manuscript. Fortunately, my good days are more often than bad, so I read/review books, and write my own stories when my head does not feel like a grenade going off inside. In theory, my illness could explain why I write short novellas, but I believe it’s more of a style that I feel comfortable writing. I used to get in cyberspace and read about the migraines others are going through, and had to stop because the stories were so devastating I got depressed, but my heart goes out to those in pain.
When a friend tells me they have a headache, I ask, “Is it a migraine?” The answer is usually “no,” thinking its sinus or tension related. I hope for them they’re correct, but I remember when I was diagnosed; I couldn’t believe such a thing was happening to me. But bad things happen to us regardless of how we try to prevent it. My best recommendation is for he/she to see a neurologist for recurring headaches, as the disease affects everything you do, including work, social life, private life, and reading/writing. Of my novellas, a Facebook friend posted “with the characters Shevata and Zermon in my head, it’s a small wonder I get migraines.” I appreciate the laugh.
So, new authors, if you have a chronic illness don’t let something that won’t go away stop you from writing. It may limit the pace; you’ll need breaks, but move forward and don’t let the disease ruin your life. A great example is the author Laura Hillenbrand who wrote “Seabiscuit.” In her interview in the back of the book she discusses her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, causing her to take breaks of sometimes weeks at a time.
For me, so I can’t drink red wine? No problem. I’m sick once a quarter for work, that’s doable. I’m fortunate to have a brilliant, caring doctor. When I see/hear about what some people are going through, like malignancies, strokes, heart disease, or missing children I realize that some people in this world actually have problems, and though I have a few bad days, overall I’m blessed.