All my life I’ve had to struggle with mental illness. On occasion it’s been hard to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve lost entire days, weeks, months of my life to my issues but I am aware that the world doesn’t stop for me. I’ve still had to write, publish, market and sell my work to the wider world as well as little things like food and rent. In addition to the normal problems of a writer in a saturated market I’ve also dealt with many pains all my own. I’d like to talk about them but that’s not my usual MO. I like to help if I can.
Here’s some of the advice I’ve managed to assemble over the years on how to deal with my own issues in the hope that no matter your problems and passions you won’t have to let your disability get in the way too much.
Lesson One. ‘Too Much’
Expecting, allowing or even hoping for the idea that your disability isn’t going to impact your passion is painfully naïve. I’m sorry, I know that’s upsetting and it certainly was when I realized it but that naivete opens you up to being hurt later. Spending too long wondering when your disability will get out of your way and allow you to work will stop you from ever getting it done and nothing will end up disheartening you more than having a few good days and thinking it’s finally going to get out of your way and having that fall apart on you.
Keeping a realistic idea of what you can do might be a difficult compromise to come to terms with, but it’ll be good for you in the long run.
Lesson Two. Keep a Schedule.
Yes, it’s boring but it’s also necessary. Having scheduled times to follow your passions and managing your expectations and behaviour patterns and work around them. I realize this can be difficult for some people but if you search you can find things that’ll work for you. Whether it’s voice recognition, special art supplies or whatever equipment you need for your passion an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of effort.
Lesson Three. Accept Help
This one was the hardest for me. I was raised to be proud and do my best to stand on my own two feet. That’s not easy when you’re hurting. When it’s hard to go outside and provide for yourself it’s sometimes hard to be proud and sometimes it’s harder not to be. Giving up a little of your independence in exchange for a little help can feel like handing over a lot but remember these measures are in place to help you.
Whether it’s government programs, or the friends and family who love you, you might need to put aside some of the pressures society puts upon you to make you earn, to make you feel less than for your disability. Don’t believe that for a second. It’s okay to need help.
It can be hard to accept limitations, but you need to acknowledge them in order to transcend them. There’s no reason you can’t be a disabled artist. You can chase your dreams living with a disability especially if you’re truly passionate about it. People with disabilities have a harder time finding room for our passions, but for some of us our art is reason to get out of bed in the morning. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice that.
If you are experiencing mental health issues and need to talk please see your GP or contact your local hotline (click here for worldwide listings)