Drawn to Light
I never really know how to talk about these subjects, because I have so many conflicting thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I feel I’ve come to terms with everything in my life, sometimes I feel very blessed, but sometimes I succumb to anxiety and fear and anger. So with this I try to channel my many emotions toward the beauty and wonder of life.
I‘ve been afflicted with a chronic illness since I was young, and I’ll likely have it for the rest of my life. I never really know quite how to explain it, so you can read about it here if you would like. It has affected a lot of aspects of my life, especially when I was younger. My mental health, body image, and long-term wellness have all taken a toll. But I don’t want to focus solely on the darkness of illness, though of course it’s present. I can’t simply present hospitals as a place of negativity. My illness has brought me some of my darkest moments, but also some of my brightest.
Anguish and pain are present, but illness doesn’t mean a one-dimensional life. The lives of sick people are rich, and bright, and full of magic and joy.
I hate pain. When an episode begins for me, it means pain will undeniably be at the forefront of my life anywhere from a couple of hours to many days. But at the end of every episode for me is the most magical moment: when the pain finally dissipates. It feels incredible to not be in pain. During my worst years, when I was ill near-constantly, waking up in the morning and feeling no pain was a euphoric and rare occurrence.
As I’ve grown, it has become clear that I am gradually growing healthier, and not the other way around. I have friends and acquaintances with chronic illness for whom this is not the case, and I am incredibly blessed to have longer and longer stretches between my episodes.
In fact, the last time I ended up in the ER was over six months ago. This is the longest stretch between major episodes I’ve experienced in ten years. I know I can’t get complacent; my health revolves around keeping up a very strict lifestyle and regime. But I can’t help but be hopeful. If my health declines again I’m ready to accept that and push onward, but during this period of relative wellness, I’m taking time to reflect on my life, and on art and pain.
When I was at my worst, three things temporarily relieved my pain. The first is hot water. Baths have been a source of temporary relief of the stomach cramping and nausea for my entire life.
Second is video games. I can recall one time I played Kingdom Hearts for nearly a week straight, every waking hour, to keep the pain and anxiety from overwhelming my mind.
Third is, of course, art. Art has been my tether to reality through this all. It’s something concrete that I know is without a doubt worth seeing another day for. It’s what kept me from spiraling into a black hole of depression when I was at my worst around age 15. It’s allowed me to channel my anger and anxiety, but also my hopes and aspirations. And my illness has pushed me dramatically forward toward achieving goals.
So this piece is for my fellow sick kids, sick adolescents, sick people with hopes and dreams and magic in their lives, but who must endure a lot in order to experience it. I hope every one of you has or finds something to carry you through every moment of darkness with passion.