{Long post warning}

A thought occurred to me this morning, one of those AH-HA moments where the realization of something that’s bounced around in the crevices of your mind now appears as Johnny did in The Shinning.

In the early days since my epilepsy diagnosis, I journalled writing down every thought, fear, frustration, and anything I needed to remember. It was cathartic, to a degree. Kept me sane. Sort of. And eventually evolved to poetry and the beginnings of my memoir, Battles of The Mind. But. What’s interesting is all this expression of emotion, documentation of seizure events and what not decreased after my official PNES diagnosis in September 2019. Before covid, before Mom’s passing, but after the isolation and grief hit. Just when I needed it, after my memoir was complete, edited, and ready to start the search for agent/publisher, I fell off the ‘poetry wagon’ and hid, suppressing the need to emote, to express, to reach out. It was as if my ‘go to’ self help healing process was no longer helpful, in my mind, and to be avoided, snuffed out, run from.

Today though, after spending days organizing all those poems written since 2015 into a logical documentary of themes, consolidated into 3-word documents and itemized into folders tracking who, when each was submitted, and ultimately rejected, to literary magazines, I rediscovered a part of myself forgotten in all this ‘mess’ of seizures, surgeries, and medications.

The old anal retentive, OCD-driven-organized spirit surfaced and went into overdrive.

Every version of every poem was listed in alphabetical order, complete with table of contents, also in alpha order. The hours spent. The focus and mental energy expelled. The tired, sore eyes combined with the need to finish with the goal of revising every poem into one version of each worthy of publication. A daunting task indeed. Especially for one challenged by double vision and a diminished capacity to focus for long periods of time without becoming overwhelmed and frustrated by how much longer simple tasks, or ones that used to be, take to complete.

In scanning each poem, feeling the emotion in the words, hit a chord buried deep inside. That’s when the AH-HA moment smacked me across the head.  I’ve not been journalling. Not been writing poetry. Not participating in the weekly Poetry Cafes Laurie Fuhr of the Alexandria Writing Centre Society hosts each Sunday. Not acknowledging the depression and anxiety brought on by isolation, thanks to covid, and suppressing the grief for my lost independence, and the death of my mother.

Is it no wonder then, the seizures persisted? My trips to the ER increasing to an average of one every couple of months, with the majority, if not all, being PNES?

My point is … I’ve not managed my mental well-being as I have in the past. I have not been kind to myself by not taking care of, recognizing, acknowledging those emotions roiling within looking to be heard. I’ve done myself a disservice. And that must change.

This blog post will be the beginning of recapturing old processes that seemed to work before. The self care methods I’ve learned through my visits at the Epilepsy Clinic, my participation with Project Uplift, and, of course, the support offered through the Epilepsy Association of Calgary [EAC]and with my ongoing participation in the monthly BC Epilepsy Society [BCES] online support group.

As with any new habit, or the rebooting of old ones, some of us require a level of accountability. And I’m not embarrassed to admit, I’m a card holding member of that club. Or at least, I am now.

So. To place the onus on myself to ‘put up or shut up’ shutting up is what I don’t want to do! I am going to participate, for the very first time, in the NA PO WRI MO 2022. For those unfamiliar with this term, na po wri mo is the annual National Poetry Writing Month where participants aim to write 30 poems in April. Completing one per day is ideal to remove some of the pressure, but isn’t required as long as 30 poems are penned from April 1 – 30. By focusing my energy on releasing trapped emotions and tapping into my ‘all or nothing’ attitude in anything and everything I put my mind to, my anxiety levels will drop thereby reducing the possibility of seizures, or that’s the goal I’m aiming for and hope to achieve.

To add to that level of accountability, I will post the results of my creativity to my blog. They may come in lumps, whether daily, weekly, or all at once.

As always, I wish you all the very best. Take care of yourselves and stay safe.

Spring is just a heartbeat away and the start of all things new.

Enjoy the warmer weather and the reduced restrictions as we push this pandemic aside and regain some form of normalcy.

Until next month, this is me signing off!