Imagination, creativity, and production. I need them working together to produce wonderful things. But it hasn’t been happening. One of the three pieces seems to elude me sporadically and intermittently. Most of the time it’s the production part. So, I have been evaluating myself and my outcomes to determine what is going wrong.

Fortunately, the answer has revealed itself. Optimal working conditions. At first, I thought I could recreate the atmosphere where I was able to blog regularly. Or how I was able to create content easily. I failed because I thought maybe I was missing my writing partner, a creative muse, or the right location. Cause you know it’s always about location, location, location.

But, no. I had to dig deeper. As I continued on my journey to find my optimal working conditions, I realized it was a futile endeavor. Why? Because I was looking for the right time, place, and situation to be creatively unhindered for a me, who no longer existed. I wasn’t the same person who woke up at 5 a.m. to write. My body no longer functioned that way. My mind no longer thought that way.

See, I had endured a stroke (from a medical procedure to treat the autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis which led to me being prescribed a side effect laden steroid. But wait, there’s more. After being on the mend from the stroke, I took an antibiotic and I had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to it. I had to spend eight days in the hospital while I received another treatment (plasmapheresis). And I was prescribed an even higher dosage of the same steroid afterwards.

The steroid had slow and steady negative effects on my body. After six months, I had gained over 40 pounds, experienced severe leg cramps, night sweats, tremors, and acne. I was too tired to go anywhere. I couldn’t fit my clothes. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see me looking back. Shout out to Snapchat filters because they made me feel like myself again (to a degree). I was miserable. How was I supposed to be imaginative and creative feeling this way? The answer was I couldn’t, and I didn’t.

Fast forward to months later, and I was finally off the medication. It was a gradual release and as the dosage decreased, so did the side effects. Eventually my energy level increased too, and I began to lose the swelling and excessive weight. My neurologist found a better treatment plan for me, and I was near my optimal working condition again, physically.

Mentally, not so much. I would go to a coffee shop, sandwich spot, or any of the other places I would write unabashed, and I would produce little to nothing. My ideas didn’t flow. They felt rushed and uninspired. My completion rate was abysmal. All the external paraphernalia was present, laptop, tablet, caffeine. Those worked for the previous version of myself, and she didn’t live here anymore.