I went over a year and a half without working full-time. I had some little freelance gigs that I could complete from home, but those projects were sporadic, didn’t take much time, and only generated a tiny bit of revenue. So when I landed a full-time job in August, I was looking forward to finally feeling like a productive adult member of society. At first I thought I would drop my freelance jobs because they would have been hard to juggle with my new job. But I thought I’d try to manage the multiplicity for a few weeks, just to see if I could.
As it turned out, I could. So I decided to keep my freelance writing and social media jobs while maintaining my full-time position as a communications coordinator. It was enjoyable having a bunch of tasks on the go at once, because it felt as though I was making up for all those months I spent sleeping until 10 a.m., going for walks around my neighbourhood, and not working because I was trying to heal my piece of shit body. I even went a step further and found a volunteer position with an IBD group, which I have yet to start but soon will.
My pile of projects has required some sacrifices – namely writing for fun and catharsis on this blog. I was fully aware that I was neglecting my blog, but I saw that as a good sign. It showed that I had more meaningful things to do than complain about my disease and my surgeries.
I remember speaking months ago with a fellow J-poucher, Joe, who I first met when we were both patients at Mount Sinai Hospital. He made an accurate observation about online content related to IBD surgeries and pelvic pouches: there can be a lopsided amount of negative content because the success stories are too busy living their lives to write about them. I get that now. That’s not to say I’m a success story, because I still have much farther to go before I can say I’ve really got my shit together. My blog has often been a pretty bleak place in terms of content, and I make no apologies for that. I think it’s important to share stories about struggle, because they’re more important, and frankly more interesting, than happy stories.
However, I also think people who have recovered from illness, IBD-related or otherwise, understand that positive posts can hurt, not inspire, others still struggling with their health, and that’s why they don’t write them. Ever have a friend share a photo of a new car or new home or some vacation destination? Doesn’t that piss you off? It’s like, that’s great Steve, you just bought a new luxury sedan after returning from your trip to Hawaii, and you can fuck right off because I can’t sleep through the night without having to shit three times.
Aside from having less free time these days, I don’t feel motivated to write about even remotely positive things because I know plenty of people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who struggle with their condition daily. I feel guilty about my progress, and it’s not fair that they can’t progress with me.
The irony of my progress is that I miss the lazy days. I miss being able to listen to the radio for a couple of hours after breakfast, to write about a relevant issue just for the academic exercise, to go for a walk in the middle of the day, or go for a run late at night because I didn’t have to get up early the next day. Above all, I miss having time to just be alone, because after months of post-surgical recovery, I’ve discovered that’s what really recharges me.
But I do like being busy again. Having work to do on a regular basis gives me a sense of worth. I would like to drop at least a portion of my freelance work at some point, just so that I have more time for fun stuff, or more time just to relax. For the time being, I’m putting in the work to replenish my bank account, to feel valuable, and to offset all the time I felt that I wasn’t.