a period of time
By: Fela M'tima
We all know endo can take things from us, for me, it took my motivation very quickly.
I’ll take you back to a year ago.
I had recovered from my first surgery and was feeling beyond terrible. I didn’t really leave my bed. I remember I had leftover colored pencils and coloring books that people had gotten me to keep me busy post op, but I never wanted to use them. I spent a lot of time distracting myself with TV. If I spent time making art, I had to feel more emotions, I had to connect to myself, and I didn’t want to. I felt disconnected and I didn’t mind it. It was the worst time of my journey with endo, to be honest. It wasn’t just that I didn’t feel good, I didn’t want to do anything anymore. I felt useless, helpless, and uninspired. That winter, I was bleeding heavily and almost constantly. The pain that came with it from my Adenomyosis was beyond unbearable. Looking back, I don’t know why I allowed myself to suffer that much, alone in bed, bleeding, crying, and wishing I didn’t exist. I bought myself a notebook, I told myself, “Just draw in bed, at least.”
I had always been an artist. From the time I could draw, I did. I’ve always been very good at making things out of “nothing” and being artistic is something I’ve always liked about myself. So there I was, drawing in bed here and there but it never felt like enough. I mean, I was still stuck in bed. I’d find myself curled up, with an empty notebook, feeling even more down on myself because now I had let myself down. If I couldn’t even motivate myself to draw in bed, how would I ever do anything? It’s easy to assume that at this point, I was battling depression. Maybe I was but I really just felt like the endo WAS my depression. It swallowed me whole. It took me to a place where there wasn’t beauty, and there definitely wasn’t any art.
One day, I got so frustrated at being in my room, an idea popped into my head. I have this basement, and nothing is in it, so why don’t I make my own art studio? My pain was so bad around this time, I still don’t know how I first walked down the two flights of stairs to get there. But, those first steps became the beginning of probably the only thing that helped me survive that period of my life. (Literally.)
Before I knew it, I was setting alarms every morning, popping pain meds with my tea and crackers, and hobbling downstairs to create. Sometimes, I’d sit there completely frozen for minutes at a time, with my eyes closed, because the pain was so bad I was about to pass out. Sometimes, I’d have to go back upstairs and lay with my heating pad. Other days, I’d fight it and paint for hours. The motivation didn’t come quick and neither did the inspiration. The act of forcing myself out of bed, the physical pain of walking downstairs, the disappointment when I couldn’t even sit in a chair for more than a few minutes, that is what became inspiration.
One day I was down there, and I looked around at all I had done. I had made earrings, painted over 6 canvases, I had decorated my space. I DID. ME. I did something, I created something. It wasn’t even about the art anymore, it was about something way bigger. I didn’t just create some paintings. I had created a space, motivation, inspiration, and most importantly, a damn reason to wake up.
It pains me that chronic illness’s can suck so much life out of us. It can take away almost anything that makes us feel human. I’m not saying I’m forever inspired. It is an everyday battle and I have lost many times. Though now, I know how to push myself and believe in myself.
I almost lost myself that winter. Drowning in oxy, battling the curse of a failed laparoscopy, and completely isolated in a tiny bedroom. I didn’t know myself, but when I found her, I was inspired by her. That basement became something endo couldn’t touch and for that I will always be grateful for it.