Tag Archives: Coping Mechanisms

Writing: A Thriving Mechanism.

16 Sep

I’ve been in a relatively happy mood over the last week, which explains my lack of writing lately. As strange as it may seem, my desire to write often decreases if I’m in a good mood. I partly think this is the case because for as long as I can remember, writing has been a coping mechanism. I began writing at the age of 8 because there were stories in my head and poems that I felt just needed to be expressed. I continued to write not because I had all these wonderful ideas for stories, but because at the age of 11, my intense surgeries began, which were followed by lots of intense physical therapy. I wrote to let out the pain.

Lately, my desire to write has changed somewhat. I no longer use writing as a coping mechanism. These days, writing is more of a thriving mechanism. Of course, I do have down days, and my writing definitely comes in handy during those times. However, more recently, my writing has been a tool to celebrate what I have overcome. Living with Cerebral Palsy isn’t easy. Even though most people can probably figure that out, the majority of people don’t know what people with CP face on a regular basis. That’s why I strive on a daily basis to share my story with the world. Even though I haven’t written that much regarding my memoir, I still talk about my life with CP on a regular basis when it comes to this blog.

Even though I’ve only begun having a CP focus on my blog since beginning my memoir in January, I can already see the incredible impact that it’s had on me as well as others. In terms of my life, sharing my struggles of having CP has made me happier and has put me on the path of ever so slowly accepting myself. It has also allowed me to realize that I was born to do this. I normally don’t use that phrase because in my head it holds a little bit of a religious connotation. However, all religious connections aside, I do feel like being a CP advocate and sharing my story of living with CP is what I was born to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing I was born to do though. I love psychology just as much as I love advocating for others with disabilities, and the thought of one day being a counselor for kids with special needs seems like the perfect fit. Then again, I don’t know what the future holds. I’ve got my entire life ahead of me. In terms of my blog, I’ve also seen how focusing on talking about what it’s been like for me to live with CP impacts others as well. Since beginning to discuss living with CP this past January, I’ve received wonderful feedback. I’ve received comments and emails from parents of children with CP who have thanked me for giving them a window into what their child faces. I’ve received a comment from a girl who is facing a lot of the same surgeries in the same hospital that I went through. I’ve had a woman come up to me at a restaurant after overhearing me talk about writing my memoir to tell me that her son has CP and that she fully supports what I’m doing. Even though I have a good amount of benefits that writing my memoir has provided for me, I do it for everyone else. I do it for the kids with CP. I do it for the parents of kids with CP so that they can better understand what their children face. I do it for Grace, a girl I know who has CP, because it’s the only way that I know how to help her. As well as writing my memoir for the families that have been affected by CP, I write about my life for the general public as well. Not many people know about CP, and I know for a fact that not many people know what someone with CP faces on any given day. That’s what I’m here for: to be the voice of every other kid with CP who just wants someone who understands what they’ve faced.

So maybe I don’t have to use writing as a coping mechanism anymore. However, I believe that’s one of the biggest steps that I could’ve made. Rather than being set on writing through pain, I have chosen to focus on the people who I am impacting every day through my words. It is because of all of you that I have decided to continue my writing journey. Someone’s got to be the voice of so many who are currently faced with having to live with Cerebral Palsy. Why can’t that voice be mine?

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Counseling Special Needs Kids.

24 Aug

Every so often, most of the time when my defenses are down, I contemplate what it would be like to counsel special needs kids in the future. Since I have special needs myself, I feel like I could bring something to the table that other counselors wouldn’t necessarily have: understanding. However, while it may seem admirable for me to want to counsel special needs kids, I think of Grace, a 12-year-old girl I know who has CP. I think of Grace and how it is so hard for me to watch her go through the same pain that I did without being able to help her. However, I also think of the kids who would sit before me, faced with so much, who may only want one thing: someone to listen….or someone who understands.

It’s what I’ve searched for my entire life…someone who can understand. However, recently I’ve come to the conclusion that so much of this journey is my own inner battle. Sure, there are people who want to understand and who are willing to listen, but none of them can say, “I know exactly how you feel.” That’s not my fault, nor is it theirs. It’s just the luck of the draw I guess.

However, when I contemplate counseling special needs kids, I’ve come to a realization: It wouldn’t just help the kids that I’d work with, it’d help me too. I understand that without even being in the field yet to see it. However, another part of me has some doubts. Yes, it would feel awesome to help these kids that I associate myself with in a sense (even though I know that my CP doesn’t define me). However, I also wonder what it would be like being faced with disabilities day in and day out. Yes, I’d already be faced with it on a daily basis due to the fact that I have a physical disability myself. However, I just don’t know if the workplace is an area where I’d want to separate myself from it, if that makes any sense. The thing is, I don’t know how it would affect me. I don’t know if I’d feel like I was being put in a kind of box along with my clients: the box of disability. It’s not something that I’m able to reason through right now, since I’m still in college and won’t know my reaction to it until I’m out in the real world facing it one-on-one.

Either way, I feel like writing my memoir is one of the beginning steps. Even though I’m not talking directly to other kids with special needs and trying to understand how they feel, I’m dealing with my own emotions regarding my physical disability. I’m writing about what I’ve faced and how it’s made me feel, and I think that is one of the first steps if I want to consider counseling kids with special needs. Even though I understand that since I’m in college this is the ideal time for my career choices to fluctuate, it’s something that I’m considering. Though the ultimate goal is to help kids like myself come to understand themselves and why they’re different, I’ve realized how much I’ve benefited from counseling, and I want to give other kids in my shoes the same opportunity to try to move past what they’ve faced. Granted, it’s not just in the counseling. It takes much more. For instance, I know that without my writing I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today, or being in a position where I can openly talk about my disability in a way that is helping me coming to terms, and ultimately accept, myself. However, combining counseling with my own coping mechanism of writing has brought me here, and I only hope that one day I can give other special needs kids the opportunity to try to come to terms with what they have faced.

How Do You Deal With Criticism, Writer’s Block And Burnout?

2 May

This past Friday, I met up with one of my writing mentors, Mike, that I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. It was great to see him, and we had a great hour and a half conversation about writing, life, struggles, etc. Since Mike is one of those people who is a writer himself and will tell me the honest truth, sometimes I’m a bit hesitant to share what I’ve written with him.

I have yet to share any part of my book with him because I feel like I’m still in the early stage of writing my memoir. I only started writing at the end of January, and I’ve only written about 12 pages (which I’m not exactly proud of. However, I was dealing with schoolwork up until a little less than a week ago, so what can you do?). Though I’ve only written 12 pages, at this point, I’m still very close to those 12 pages of my life, my heart, and ultimately, my soul. Those 12 pages are memories that I’ve pulled directly from my heart and written down. They aren’t changed in any way. They are as close to the actual truth that I have been able to get (since I’ve realized that I’ve blocked out a good chunk of memories due to their degree of pain). Deep down, I’m not ready to share anything yet. I still feel so emotionally close to what I’ve written so far. I mean, it’s my life. It’s what I felt, not just physically, but emotionally too. How can I turn it over to someone to critique just yet? I understand that dealing with criticism is a huge part of being a writer. I also understand that I’m going to get good and bad criticism, and it’s important to focus on the good criticism since that is the advice that will propel me forward. However, I just feel like it’s too soon. Does that make sense?

Now that I’m done with academics until the fall semester (or until I study abroad in Ireland in June), I have the time to sit down with my memoir and try to sort through as many memories as I can that I have yet to write down. However, at this point, I’m just not sure where to go. I sit down to write, and nothing comes out. I think it’s primarily because I’m not in the right mindset for the memories to surface. The things that I want to share aren’t particularly happy, so sitting down to write when I’m in a relatively cheerful mood doesn’t get me anywhere. Though I understand that the writing process isn’t something that occurs overnight, it’s hard to wait when I just want to finally get all the painful memories out. They’ve been buried inside for so long. We all have to face our demons eventually. I may as well start now.

When I talked with Mike on Friday, he made the comment that my memoir is something that I shouldn’t force, and since it is such a delicate topic for me, it’s something that I should try to not get too frustrated over. However, since the process of writing is frustrating anyway, some frustration is normal. I think the best advice Mike gave me was to start another writing project (as well as working on my memoir). He pointed out that since my memoir is such an emotionally heavy project, it’d be good to work on something light on the side. Whether it’s poetry or a short story, working on another project is good when I’m stuck on my memoir. Mike said “Even if you write a short story about bunnies, you’re writing. That’s all that matters.” Mike has made a point to tell me that writing every day is an important part of writing. Even though I’ve seen the benefits of that (through this blog, mainly), I guess I didn’t consider starting another writing project.

I didn’t consider starting to write something other than my memoir because my memoir was taking up so much of my emotional energy. However, now that I take a second look at it, I guess that’s why people take on multiple writing projects….to give their mind a break from focusing on the same writing project day in and day out. I know that since I’ve started my memoir, there have been days that I just don’t feel like working on it. However, in the back of my mind, I know that I’ve got to work on something if I want my writing spark to stay alive. There have been previous times in my life when I’ve taken breaks from writing, but not just a break from a particular writing project, but a break from writing altogether. Even though in those instances I’ve eventually returned to writing, the breaks from writing have made it even harder to get back into the swing of things.

So, moral of the story: Write every day (no matter what), don’t let a certain writing project burn you out (start something else to keep your writing juices flowing, while also allowing yourself to have a break from the first writing project), and don’t give up (I know writing is frustrating, but for the few of us who love it, writing is our passion, our love, and the only way we can accurately portray ourselves).

Are you ever hesitant to share something you’ve written because you’re too emotionally close to it? How do you deal with criticism? Would you rather focus on one writing project at a time or split your time between two different writing projects and why? I’d love feedback from you fellow writers!