Esther Byrne

Well, it has been a while…

Longer than I meant it to be, but fatigue makes its own rules.

Today, however, I am back! Spring is in the air, and I’m feeling inspired today to write about the intrinsic link between disability and creativity. In my experience, disability and long-term illness go hand-in-hand with creativity, as we navigate a world which is often not designed with us in mind. As soon as I enter a room, my brain is scanning for a place to sit down. Due to living with POTS, I have difficulty standing, and it takes me roughly three times as much effort both to stand up and to remain standing as it does for a healthy person without POTS.

So, chairs are a must. If there are no chairs, my mind begins to come up with creative solutions. Will someone tell me off if I perch on this table? Will this wall provide some relief? No? Pot plant, anyone?

As a result of this, my creative brain is often firing on all cylinders. I don’t mean to say that this is always positive; it can be both tiring and demoralising, but it does keep the ideas flowing. Ideas, which have a direct effect on my writing.

I find that I never run out of ideas for stories, and my mind is also stimulated to be more creative in other areas, particularly in the kitchen. I love to cook, and I am profoundly grateful that my fatigue has eased enough to allow me to cook roughly twice a week. I like to batch-cook simple recipes, but also to try new things. I have a one-pan cookbook from Jamie Oliver that has provided many tasty meals.

Yesterday, I made this one-pan lasagne:

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy the lasagne sheets. This left me with a quandary. I could use my energy to go back to Tesco and buy them, or I could have a go at making them from scratch. Ultimately, my creative brain was more inspired by the second option. I got a pasta maker from a charity shop a while ago, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. The pasta was relatively easy to make (though one of my eggs did nearly end up on the floor), and passing it through the machine was good fun. It was also a nice paced activity that allowed me to rest between stages.

The end result of the lasagne was tasty, but for me, the main joy was in trying something new. In expressing myself through my cooking, and in trying out a simple, manual task that people have been doing for centuries. It afforded much more satisfaction than tipping dried pasta into a pan.

I suppose my main point is that it is unlikely I would ever have found space in my life for these activities had I not become ill. I would have carried on with the usual, ‘easy’ route; not needing to think outside the box or conjure up another way of doing things.

It is my dearest wish to become well, but I am very glad to have this new, more creative brain. It has helped me find solutions I never knew were there, and to discover the joy of making pasta.



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