When Crap Happens: Writing Through Trauma

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When my husband and I were trying for our second child, we thought it would be simple because we conceived our first child on the first try. Little did we know the long road we would have to endure ahead. Being the creative person I am, trying to breathe life into my manuscripts and a little human at the same time was the hardest period of my life. It felt like my body was rejecting me at every turn, and so were traditional publishing houses.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Expected

During our conception journey, we ended up experiencing 16 non-viable pregnancies in the course of 2.5 years. That is an astonishingly high number of failures. Finally, through help from science and good doctors, we became pregnant with our son. Nearing the end my pregnancy, I had planned out what I was going to do while on maternity leave. I was going to have my current #WIP so perfect that all I had to focus on is writing a new manuscript. I thought I’d be able to relax for about a month before he arrived and then have this big 8-pound baby. He’d sleep through the night almost immediately (lol what a joke) and life would be so easy.

Well, Thaideon came 6 weeks early, landing him 2 weeks in the NICU with breathing and feeding tubes coming out of his nose and mouth. He kept pulling out the IV drips that he needed to keep him hydrated. The nurses kept trying to find his veins and stuck him so many times his arms were bruised. He was so small. He only weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces at one point. He was literally nothing but skin and bones. His belly became swollen with air. Intestinal issues, along with breathing problems and jaundice, quickly followed. The doctors thought he might need to be transferred to a higher level of care. We practically lived in the NICU and were there every single day.

Following my son’s birth, my uncle died of liver cancer, and my aunt died of intestinal cancer. They literally died back to back within a month of each other. While not extremely close with either of them, it left a dark cloud and a heaviness in my heart. It’s such a terrible way to die when cancer spreads and eats away at you. I’m not going to lie; these past few months have been rough. Nothing turned out the way I had envisioned. It’s been hard seeing writer friends getting book contracts and winning contests. Here I am with the son I’ve always wanted, and he looks like a tiny alien because he’s so underweight. Big head. Sticks for arms and legs. No butt. Tubes coming out all over the place. And guess what is happening outside of my crazy world?


It goes on despite shit hitting the fan. Other people are winning at life. There’s a world out there full of happy people, and as someone who suffers from clinical depression, I strive for some of that happiness, too. I want to feel like I’m winning at life as well. We all do, don’t we? Even if we feel like we’re failing?

Writing Motivational Tips & Things That Helped Me

Here’s what has helped me to get out of my funk. After all, writing as well as getting out of depression takes effort and determination.

  • Set Writing/Editing Goals: I’ve set editing goals and have kept with them. I’ve had to be flexible because of my son’s sleep schedule. Newborn life can be challenging, especially with a preemie baby. Channeling your trauma into your writing is a great way to use pain.
  • Say Positive Affirmations: I discovered a new app called I AM. It gives you daily positive affirmations that help you feel better about yourself. You can also write down your own and read them out loud to yourself.
  • Meet With Friends: I scheduled time with friends that I lost touch with through COVID. Since many of us are vaccinated, it’s nice to reconnect. I’ve gone to lunch, met at parks, and had barbeques with friends.
  • Get Outside: Getting outdoors can help immensely. I do try and get out. I had to take it easy for a bit because I had a C-section, but it’s nice to stay mobile. Going for a walk or being outdoors in nature is a nice way to clear your mind.
  • See Your Therapist: Talk therapy can work wonders. It has for me through COVID. We’re all still adjusting to the new norm. When we hang out with friends, we want to enjoy them. Unloading on your therapist vs. your friends is one way to do this. Friends are here to help us, but I find it more helpful talking it out with a professional.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes we set up expectations for ourselves, and things don’t happen like we thought they would. However, trauma can also motivate us to work on our chosen craft. Today, my son is 3 months old. He’s finally filling in and has the cute, pinchable baby fat. He’s smiling and making eye contact and hitting his milestones. I’m revising my manuscript with fresh eyes. You can get through what you’re going through, too. If you’ve gone through crap and you’re trying to also keep up with your writing, it can be hard. Know that you’re not alone. Set realistic goals. Talk to someone. Call a friend. Get outside. And most importantly, give yourself some love. Hug yourself and say, I’m trying my very best. That’s all any of us can do. Take each day as it comes, because tomorrow isn’t promised to no one.


7 thoughts on “When Crap Happens: Writing Through Trauma

    jennylynnangelo said:
    August 26, 2021 at 12:07 PM

    Bless your heart. I loved this. I’m so glad everything is better. Sorry to hear about your family. Cancer is a terrible. I’ve had family die the same way. It’s great to be able to keep at your goals despite all that you went through.

    Liked by 2 people

      S.Z. Estavillo responded:
      August 26, 2021 at 12:11 PM

      Thank you Jenny, I always appreciate your kind words. Things are better now, thankfully. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

        jennylynnangelo said:
        August 26, 2021 at 12:12 PM

        So glad to hear that dear. One day at a time, that’s all we can do.

        Liked by 1 person

    chrisr74 said:
    August 26, 2021 at 6:56 PM

    The best art can be born from pain. Such a healthier response to trauma and I applaud you while offering condolences for your family members. Keep writing and creating!

    Liked by 1 person

    Jacqui Murray said:
    August 27, 2021 at 10:24 AM

    I am so glad your son is doing well. I had a child who spent too much time in NICU, when the only ways children were leaving that unit was by passing on–it is a horrific time in my life, and yours I’m sure. The funny thing is, those highly emotional times gave depth to my writing I didn’t expect. I bet they will for you, too. Best of luck on the next months!

    Liked by 1 person

      S.Z. Estavillo responded:
      September 2, 2021 at 9:18 PM

      Thank you for sharing Jacqui. Trials really do help us become better writers.

      Liked by 1 person

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