Can chronic illness actually lead to the best book life? I would venture to say that it can and, in my life, has. I won’t tell you exactly what you should be reading here. (Sign up to my newsletter and get a free novella or check out my Goodreads reviews for more of that.) But I do want to share how books have become self-care for me.
In high school and again in college, I ended up as a virtual shut-in, only venturing out for doctor’s appointments, usually driven around by my parents. I found solace in reading, but I needed more and I found that outlet in writing. Books were a blessing from God in the form of consuming and creating.
Recently I have had to abandon another preventative medication due to yet another allergic reaction. One more doctor has said told me, “That’s it. You’ve tried everything I know of to try.” To compound the situation two other medications that help regulate my depression and anxiety ended up running out due to a huge doctor office/pharmacy/insurance company issue. Those with chronic life issues will understand all too well. By now I have those medications, but the depression and panic attacks linger as my body readjusts.
I tell you all of this not to garner sympathy, but to share encouragement. This bookish spoonie has decided to forge a new path, one that I have been slowly moving towards for a while. I hope in sharing this news, we can each look at what’s not working in our lives and make adjustments to find a better way. I have come to the conclusion that if I want to get well, my body is not going to do it by conventional means.
Okay, so I’m not just staying here in this dark place anymore, I’m going to be a person doing something. I’ve spoken quite frequently here and on my Instagram account about how vital walking has become in the search for healing. There are many days that I can’t tolerate the light, but my routine is now to walk my son to his bus stop in the morning and let him jabber away. We laugh together until the bus drives away and after he leaves, I take off walking.
I don’t go far or fast right now. My body just won’t let me, but I’m choosing to move, like my fitness instructor Beth Learn has encouraged me to do. She argues against the all-or-nothing mentality. In several of her spoonie-friendly workouts, she tells us that even stretching counts. “This is enough, this has to be enough.” I hear in her voice in that particular restorative yoga workout the frustration with a society that distills women down to what we can or can’t do, instead of being who we are.
So, who am I being? I am a woman who lives a life riddled by pain and darkness, but I fight for the light. That makes me a warrior bookworm. Now I love being outside my house, going for those walks when I can, drinking in the sound of birdsong, and I stay home and stretch with Beth when I can’t. I am actually able to drive most days and spend time with my children getting them to and from places. This is more than just doing, it is fighting the battle of pain to be the woman I want to be.
Which leads me to the next life-giving practice I am experimenting with. Are you ready for this? Green light in a dark room. No really, green light in a dark room. In this article, there have been early studies linking a decrease in migraines from exposure to LED green lights. Like, from 24 migraine days a month decreasing to 7. What’s the treatment look like? 2 hours in a completely dark room except for a green LED light. My husband read the article and ordered a package of them immediately. Weird, right? And, good grief, who has time to sit in a dark room with a green light for 2 hours a day? What’s a bookish spoonie to do? READ!
So, now after my walk, I spend my time in the morning reading my Bible and journaling with a green LED light. I call it my green light therapy with God. His Word refreshes me and reminds of what is true and right. Writing to Him in my journal, I brainstorm how to apply what I’m learning, I give Him my frustrations, and I praise Him for at least three things each day.
I end my day taking a bath with a good book and green light. All those books that have been piling up in my To Be Read stack? I’m getting through them and my reading goal for the year will soon be reached. I’m discovering new authors, studying different writing techniques, and relaxing. I don’t know yet if the light is making a difference for daily migraines, but I do know I feel better during the therapy itself. It might be all the indulgent reading I feel justified in enjoying. (You can find my reviews here or sign-up for my newsletter for a more in-depth look.)
I mean, I write and read for a living, right? So this should just be part of my life now. And I’m learning so much about how to relax and let go of things. I keep thinking I’ve learned the lesson of targetingmy stressors and uprooting them, but it isn’t actually things that stress me. It’s toxic thinking. So I’m becoming ferocious in catching when I am stressing myself out and taking a step back.
Social media causing you stress? Start scheduling posts. Not enough time to schedule, you say? Take a little break. Breathe. Pray. Journal. Read a book. Enjoy a walk. Talk to a friend. All these things are helping me calm down and they might help you, too. And now that I have given myself permission to try different and unusual things to try to get well, I may actually get there. And even if my “well” doesn’t look normal, it will be my normal, a life I enjoy with the very best books.
Author of The Journey series, a young adult fantasy retelling Rapunzel’s misadventures, and Memoirs of a Headcase: Held by the God of Hope, which chronicles her battle with chronic pain and depression, JacQueline uses her writing to share stories of hope and joy. Any affiliate links used on this website will provide additional income to JacQueline to keep her writing healthy at no additional cost to you.
JacQueline currently lives in North Alabama with her karate husband and three book-crazy kids. All of her writing is from her own experience and based on her opinion. Do not substitute it for a professional therapist.
JacQueline has been writing all her life and loves meeting others who think writing is living. As an author consultant, helping other writers on their journey gives her joy. Schedule your free author assessment to learn what steps you should take next now.