Writing: How Can It Help Those Facing Mental Disability?

Mental disability is among the hardest things to deal with in life. Chris Votey, my guest today, shares how writing can provide a source of therapy to those facing hardship.

Life is hard. Let’s get that out of the way first. We all have our problems, we all have our demons. Very few of us have it any better than anyone else. Struggle is part of what makes us human.

It is not a competition. However, a mental disability is one of the hardest things to deal with in life. When it comes to disability, there are no lucky ones, no fortunate individuals. There are those who get treatment, and those who don’t. There are those who are born with it, and those who acquire it through some unfortunate circumstance.

I got injured on the job. I was in an office chair that broke. I fell to the floor and my head hit a filing cabinet. Since then I was diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome, a mild form of Traumatic Brain Injury. To this day, I’ve never received proper treatment.

It has been a difficult road. I’ve had doctors who didn’t want to treat me to ones that sought the easiest explanation. I’ve lost friends, I lost my livelihood. My job, my car, my phone, my apartment, my freedom. It’s very difficult to wake up in the morning, to have any encouragement to do anything. How do you put a smile on your face when every day is the same and nothing matters? The answer: You don’t.

The secret to recovering disability is to have a support system to take care of you. Take care of your physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Lacking that, as I do, you need to find something to make your own, something that gives you drive.

PCS affects my memory. I have forgotten most things in life. It also affects my concentration and focus. I have issues with noise and light. Constant headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty being in public. Learning new skills is extremely difficult to do.

Luckily, from a young age, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve spent many years learning how to write, developing my own style. One day, 17 months after my injury, I decided to do NaNoWriMo, and accomplished the goal within 14 days. I knew that no matter how hard it was, I had to become a writer.

Writing is my own thing, something I can do and something I love deeply. All my years of trying to do it, I find I can still do it. Not perfectly, I still need help. With writing, I can set my own schedule, I can work at my own pace, and take as many breaks as I need to.

Writing has shown itself to be a viable career choice. No other job gives me the same freedom. I’ve tried to work while disabled, and I think it made things worse. I can’t do it. I wish I could. I really, really do. Having money is a form of freedom.

As a disabled writer, I have written one book so far. Much to my surprise, it has received very positive reviews. It lacks in sales, though it is my second book on the market. I imagine as I release more, my sales will pick up.

A career in writing is not something for someone to start with no money, unfortunately. Having no job and being denied for Long-Term Disability and Social Security, I have no funds to support my career. Over a month ago I started up a Kickstarter, so I could publish books for my new series. It will allow me to find a professional editor, a cover artist, and engage in marketing for my book. We live in a very visual age and it takes more than a good story to sell books.

My life is spent writing my next story, called The Daygar Legacy. The first book is called Templar Five. The characters, a final remnant of the Knight Templar’s fight Vampires who are spreading a deadly disease killing humans in large numbers. The story takes place during the 14th century.

When I’m not working on stories, I am working on my blog or on social media. I do a lot of work on my blog, including my Worldbuilding series. It is a series designed to understand how maps work and how to design your own, targeted at people who don’t know how to draw.

Writing does sound ideal for me. Unfortunately, it is not easy. If I get a good full day of work, the next day I need to rest. Depending on how much I put into the day, it could require several days of rest. Over the last two years, I’ve slowly given up the things I love. Recently giving up video games. I’ve been playing games since a very young age, considering myself a gamer, and now it hurts when I play them.

When I am writing, I can ignore most things that bring me down. When I need to recover, I constantly wonder if this is how my life will be. Will I ever get better? Will I ever know love again? Will I ever know a day without pain? Will I ever be wanted again by friends?

It sounds depressing, and let me tell you... it is. One way I combat this is to celebrate the small things. Recently I got 10,000 views on my blog. I started the blog seven months ago. I am not really sure if this is cause to celebrate, but I choose to see it as an achievement. I have learnt though, with whomever is around you, that you can’t expect others to see the greatness of your achievements. I wish they could, but most of my celebration is alone.

I don’t compete with others about my condition. There is no point. We all have to deal with our own issues. I do envy those who have a support system; loved ones at their side helping them recover. With my condition, it is one that is supposed to get better within the first few months to first year. It has been 27 months since my accident. More than likely, I will always be dealing with this.

My goal with my Kickstarter is to get money to do my books and then make money off my series that will give me the revenue to get help from the right doctors and get myself treated, since the government wants to do as little as it can.

For those facing disability, I hope my words have inspired you. Every day is a challenge and you live with a lot of disappointment. However, writing is my therapy, it is what keeps me alive and pushing on. If it is not writing, you need to find something that is your own that gives you a reason to get out of bed.

For those not facing disability that want to be writers, the power is within you to do it. It’s hard for me to sit looking at my screen for an hour’s time, and I was successful in releasing a book. Have confidence in yourself and push yourself to do it. If I can do it, you can do it.