When I was a teenager, I lived through several really challenging years. Not that this should surprise you, I don’t know anyone who thinks of adolescence as the highlight of life. On the really rough days, when I couldn’t sort through my bajillian thoughts, I wrote. I wrote on whatever piece of paper or word processing document I could find. I’d describe my confused and aching, teenage heart. It seemed that once the words landed on paper (with proper grammar in case anyone in the next 100 years happened to find them), they were free from taking up so much space in my mind.
At 15, I traveled one summer with the Young Continental Singers. A group of teenagers who set out to tell the world about Jesus through music and really bad choreography. I might or might not still know the dance breaks. My mom gave me a journal for the trip, and I had great intentions to keep a log of every day, to remember this adventure forever and ever. I think the daily log lasted a week. Writing everyday sounded great, but I was having too much fun seeing the world without my parents (and for the “in crowd”, yes, I was a TC. Don’t tell my dad.). I wrote when I felt sad, lonely, and desperate, not when I was feeling happy, fulfilled, purposeful and adventurous.
In college, I wrote a little more frequently, trying to sort out my desperate crushes on cute college guys. My high school youth group leaders gave me a journal to take to college with me, and I composed lengthy essays on back-to-back pages, trudging through the trials of growing up. Then, ¾ of the way through the college years, I studied abroad.
Determined to gain as much as possible from three months in Latin America, I purchased a 5-subject notebook. I began the first page sitting on a bed in Costa Rica, after spending the day traveling from Miami with people I didn’t know, for a semester that I was as prepared for as an unplanned pregnancy. The next day, I received a phone call that my parent’s house in Nebraska burned during the night. After talking with my dad, I returned to class to be immediately submerged into Latin America 101. In my mind swarmed thousands of thoughts, and the only way to deal with them was to write. I wrote every single day of that semester, with the exception of a few. The few days that I missed, I actually made up for the next day, because I couldn’t bear missing even one day of thoughts. When we traveled on two-week excursions, the program gave us journals to submit as part of our homework. I remember a few of my friends struggling to complete the assignment, often not writing a word until the day before it was due. I still can’t comprehend this, as I filled every single page of those journals. I wrote in them every day, pages and pages. I’m still impressed my professors actually read them.
The journal I started that year, I kept for five years. It turns out that a 5-subject notebook can hold a cavern of thoughts. I didn’t write every day after the semester abroad, mostly just the bad ones again. The days when my heart couldn’t reconcile what my mind knew to be truth.
Three years ago, while spending 40 hours a week in a hospital office with only about 10 hours’ worth of work and the internet to keep me company, I started blogging. The “this is what I did today” type of blog, that I thought my mom and sisters might want to read (they didn’t). I kept it up though, because what else is a woman to do when she’s desperately bored and tired of crocheting for hours while watching internet television? My trip to South Africa naturally transitioned the blog to “keep up with Kyla overseas”. It’s slowly evolved from there.
During Lent this year, I decided to discipline myself and write once a week, instead of only when I felt like it or had a bad day. Instead of ending that project at Easter, I found I couldn’t stop. Thanks to those of you who read, comment, encourage, and tell me you enjoy the posts, I now call myself a writer. I also write on days when I’m feeling happy, joyful, and purposeful, along with any blue and dreary days.
For now, I’m enjoying Wednesday posts and the occasional extra or guest post. I’m not pursuing a writing career by any means, unless my blog readership miraculously grows times ten and someone knocks on my door with a message from God. I am, however, trying to write here and there outside of this fancy blog.
I hope you enjoyed that introduction! Now for the real news.
I wrote an essay based on my experiences with depression, and it’s being published!
My story is shared in a collection of stories edited by Alise Wright (remember Alise?). The collection, titled Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression, is currently available for pre-order, and will be released in print in October.
I’m sure you’ll hear about this again, but I would love it if you would check out the book and consider purchasing a copy. If you know anyone who lives with depression, this book could be a great resource and encouragement. It’s full of stories from authors willing to share the depths of their cloudy days, with hope for sunshine.
Plus, my name will be in it. How could you resist?