So, what the hell happened?

I have this vision of myself, sashaying back into this space as if no time had passed and nothing ever happened. As if I hadn’t ignored this blog, my writer friends, my readers and my craft. But I don’t think it would feel right to come back without at least an explanation. It won’t just be a pity party, I promise.

 

The truth is, though, that my most productive writing time was the absolute lowest point of my life. I loved writing, but it was almost literally the only thing I had left that gave any confidence, any feelings of accomplishment or joy at all. And when I go back and read some of my earlier work, that still resonates off every page for me. I was isolated, suffering from deep depression, social anxiety that made it hard for me to leave my house. I was afraid of my therapist, afraid of opening the mail. I was scared of people and being seen and most of all, I was afraid that I simply wasn’t built to function in a normal life.

 

Throughout 2015, I was working hard to change all that. I got a part-time job – translating and writing for a media analysis company – and although I sat in a corner hardly speaking a word to anyone the first few weeks, it really turned out to be much less scary than I thought it would be. I was – and am – good at my job and was quickly promoted to a full-time position. I’m deputy head of the editorial department now and while I still recognize and remember the person I was a few years ago, it’s also hard to imagine letting it get this bad. Letting me be so unhappy for so long.

 

I didn’t mean to stop writing. But there came a point, where other things became more important to fight for. And writing is a struggle – a wonderful one, but it takes commitment and showing up every day even when it hurts. Even when you hate every word you’re putting on the page, even when someone writes a terrible (or even just a “meh!”) review and makes you feel like you’ve been so right about hating yourself all along!

 

So when I started working full time, but hadn’t worked on any of my other problems, I usually came home exhausted. I sat in front of my screen and the word processor would blur in front of my eyes and I’d go have a nap instead. Or I’d go eat something. Which is the next problem I had to tackle.

I went to see my doctor in 2016, and he basically referred me to a specialist for gastric bypass surgery. Now, I shouldn’t have needed that wake-up call. But apparently, I did. Like I said, I was busy getting my life together and actively ignoring all the other construction sites… like my weight, which had skyrocketed all through my depression.

 

So that became my next project. I did not get surgery – because I was terrified and also, I didn’t feel like I had actually tried all that hard. And at least I wanted to do that. I wanted to try and fix this without carving up my body.

And so I did.

I went from this… (and you can only imagine how much I cringe showing you this. Myself, at my heaviest)

New haircut, sleepy at the office.

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Laila Balke (@lailajblake) am

To this…

20171013_162701 (2)

I spent the last 18 months losing about 140 lbs. And although I made a few attempts in that time to get back into writing, I quickly realized that I couldn’t do both yet. I couldn’t stay as focused on my weight loss journey as I needed to be when I split my focus. I’m still on that journey and far from skinny. But I’m not in any immediate health danger, I feel great. I have a lot energy and I realized if it was between being actually skinny or being a writer… I want to be a writer.

I’m still working to lose weight and build and strengthen those healthier habits.  But I’m also writing again and have been for a while. Even if I had (and still have) a lot of anxiety about sharing that with you in case I’d just go and disappoint again.

 

For those who are still interested – and believe me, I’d understand if there aren’t many people left – I’m currently working on finally finishing the third and last installment in the Lakeside Series. And the end feels almost tangible. Maybe three more chapters to go (and then a lot of editing). It feels good – in many ways because this series has been weighing on me for a long time. I don’t like unfinished things and I am super excited about sharing with you where my mind has been at throughout this time, and what Moira and Owain’s happy ending will look like.

 

And before I finally wrap this up (because it’s getting wooordy), thank you so much for sticking around and reading this. For your empathy and patience for something that really scared me to put into words.

3 Comments

  1. Welcome back sweetie xxxxxxx. Good for you I did the same from blogging. I also found my dream job and am happy once more so I know your battles although at a lesser extent. You look amazing and you know I have always loved your writing. If you needed this time for you then you take it. You know where I am if you need me. I’m excited for you if you do or don’t write again.

    • Awww, thank you so much! You have no idea what it means to me that you took the time to leave a comment and be your wonderful self after all this time 😀

  2. Glad that you are writing again, Laila! And I am also glad for all your other achievements!

    If you don’t recognize me yet, I am Elenitsa… and, as you see, a published author in the meanwhile too.

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