Playing competitive tennis for the better part of my life, I was a very active person. So earlier this year, when I was suddenly diagnosed with a chronic illness — Graves Disease — a lot changed for me. In just a few short weeks, I went from a life surrounded by physical activity to months nearly void of it. And to say it was difficult is an understatement. But writing helped.
Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness
Only about 2% of the general population is affected by Graves Disease, and a large percentage of them are women in their old age. So, my diagnosis as a young and active person was not easy to come to terms with. Suddenly, I found myself not a carefree 18-year-old living her best life during her gap year, but an anxiety-ridden couch potato.
Thoughts of whether I would ever get back on a tennis court and what I’d do if I couldn’t, swarmed my brain. For many years I had centered my personality and my very being on a rectangular piece of land, a yellow ball, and a racket. I didn’t know a life without it.
Here is how I used writing to change the trajectory of the next couple of months.
The Journey Through Writing
The NIH says that people diagnosed with Graves’ disease are much more likely to develop severe anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one to escape. However, I found a way to deal.
A few weeks in, I was watching Gilmore Girls and scrolling through reels when I came across an advertisement for a writing competition. It was the first time in weeks that I put my heart and soul into something other than the TV.
I didn’t end up submitting my piece, but that day something clicked. I wasn’t constantly on edge, over-whelmed with irrational unease, or worrying about the plight of my tennis career. And so, I started writing every day. For myself, for my blog, and for Bookstr.
Every time I felt like the world around me was crumbling, I tried to pen The Great American Novel. I’m kidding. I poured my heart out on paper and on the Notes App. Weirdly, the mumbo-jumbo that I wrote helped me make sense of what I was going through.
It takes a long time to come to terms with life-altering events, and I don’t think I’m there yet. However, I was at an impasse in my life, and writing simply gave me the boost I needed to jump over it (even my figures of speech are athletic…).
Getting Back To Old Ways
Although writing did not actually contribute to improving my physical health, it helped me in more ways than one. It was a source of distraction through one of the most uncertain times in my life. As I kept writing, I started being okay with the not-knowing. I learned to embrace the uncertainty surrounding my life. It gave me a platform to make sense of and therefore accept what I was going through. And lastly, but most importantly, it helped me keep the love I had for tennis alive, and for that, I am so grateful.
Writing can help people in different ways. But to those dealing with the effects of chronic illnesses, it can be your best friend. Whether you decide to pen the great American novel or scribble down your most random thoughts, writing will most definitely help you through everything you are going through.
If you want to read more on chronic illnesses, click here.