Carpe Diem in Times of Pain


A thought struck me the other night, which I have been mulling over for the past 24 hours. When I was working on the tribute piece for H.R. Giger for Gothic Beauty Magazine in 2014, shortly after his passing, I watched literally every documentary I could find about his life. I read books, articles, and personal essays. And one thing he said fluttered to the forefront of my mind recently — he did not want to go to a doctor because if he found out he was sick his life would stop and he would stop creating. That when you are diagnosed with something that is need of major treatment, whether or not life threatening, it stalls your entire world and sets your train on another track. I am paraphrasing his exact words, of course, but this was the sentiment.

When I first heard this a part of me, the rational organized part of me, which seems to get smaller as the years pass, thought this idea to be ridiculous. In my imagination I always had thought that if I was confronted with a major health issue that I would become even MORE creative than ever and produce some of my finest work. After all, I have been through countless life-altering "tragedies" over the past five or six years, hell my entire life, and during those times I always created. I wrote poetry, penned books, created hundreds of illustrations and paintings. What would be so different with a medical diagnosis rather than another sort of traumatic life event?

Then I got sick this past year. I eventually needed a very complicated and lengthy surgery to correct what ailed me. My life pretty much stopped during the past year. I struggled with massive depression, my thoughts consumed with the "what if" paradigm that can easily threaten to drown you if not careful. The more doctor appointments I went to, the less I created. The worse the condition became, the less energy I had and the worse my depression became. The word "cancer" was thrown around a few times — when you hear that word it truly does feel like the world just stops. Everything slows down. Nothing except what you feel is now on the very distant horizon and out of your reach matters, and that which is out of reach is insurmountable. All you can do is to try to get through each day without crying.

I understand now what Giger was saying. It is not merely your health which can effect your outlook on life, but the fear of uncertainty that goes with illness. Life is so short and, thus, we truly must take the best care of ourselves or face being placed in a position where we rely on the expertise of the medical industry to tell us whether we will live or die — that is a terrifying prospect. I deeply hope I do not have to deal with another such medical crisis for the foreseeable future as the depression I experienced in the lack of energy and will to create was devastating. But I will also still go to the doctor, if I am allowed health insurance in the coming few years (we'll see how this country goes...).

I am rambling now... Just some thoughts I had the other night...

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