When life becomes stressful for me, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy doing is throwing my characters into conflict infested scenarios. Then I sit there and wonder … how on earth are they going to get through this?
Sometimes writing fiction is as challenging as navigating life itself.
Life’s been very stressful for me this year. I can’t deny it. My brother and I have had to come to terms with our mother’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia and it is the most heart wrenching thing to see and experience. A truly cruel disease of the brain.
My brother has been doing the most amazing job caring for our mum because this disease is tough. Tough on the carers. Tough on the family and friends too. It’s tough for the person going through the dementia too.
So grief, depression and anxiety have been my companions.
It’s hard for me to admit how much this situation is affecting me and I am struggling to put things in to words here because of how keenly personal things are.
So in October, I flew down to Canberra to see my mum. I loved seeing her but she had changed so much. My mum stood before me, physically the same person, at least on the outside, but on the inside … the brain damage she has sustained shattered my heart.
At times mum recognised me (I live in Queensland and she is in Canberra so we don’t see each other very often). At other times mum thought she had given birth to twin daughters and continued to tell me that she couldn’t remember giving birth to me. She also insisted that her real daughter lives in Queensland and as nice as I was … well, in her eyes I wasn’t her daughter.
Sometimes what mum said was funny, somethings it was devastating.
Anyway, it’s been an emotional roller coaster and I never know if mum is going to remember me when I ring her. But on the up side, I am doing my best to cherish memories on her behalf and to remember my mum for the amazing, strong and beautiful woman she was as I grew up. My mum is still there and sometimes, in her lucid moments, she surfaces and it is a true delight!
Some people believe mum should just try harder to remember things but she can’t do that. She’s had mini-strokes. It means she has brain damage and she can’t remember. When I’ve heard well-meaning people tell my mum that she has to try harder to remember and that she’s always had memory issues, I just want to slap them in the head for being so ignorant, so arrogant, so farking lacking in compassion.
If someone has a broken leg and it’s bent at some odd angle, would it make sense to tell them to, “Just stand up and walk. Use your legs!”
Sorry, I’m so frustrated by stupid statements like that. It’s ridiculous and causes anxiety for my mum and for her children. But I do understand that the comments come from a place of wanting to help and trying to make sense of a disease that doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, since things have been so full-on emotionally, I’ve found myself doing quite a bit of creative writing. I’ve been working feverishly on The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve spent some time plotting out a rough outline and now I’m elbows deep in writing the chapters. The act of writing helps me to compartmentalise the pain. But it doesn’t mean I don’t face and feel the pain, it just gives me a safe place to take a breather and I am so grateful.
So far I’ve written sixteen chapters and I’m drafting chapter seventeen now. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a twisting turning journey for Toddy James. I hope I’m doing her justice. But for now I’m not rewriting. I’m pushing forward because I promised myself I would finish this story and I will.
Writing is a passion for me. I can’t not do it. So is reading. I love to read and I’ve been getting into reading romance stories lately. I’m learning more about the romance genre which will help me with my own writing because all of my stories have romantic elements.
I think another reason I have been enjoying the romance genre lately is that I need something to lighten up my life and even though every story is filled to the brim with conflicts, romance is known for delivering happy-ever after endings and that’s a nice thing to look forward too.
I hope life is treating you well. I’m keeping on keeping on as they say and I’m writing but most of all I’m sending my mum and brother a tone of love because they are both incredibly precious to me.