When Pain Disables, but Passion Persists

Lelindé Page
3 min readMar 3, 2022

This elegy to handwritten words is inspired by the question: “Do you still write with pen and paper?

I am 16, writing about how my hands hurt.
I am 20; a doctor dismisses me as “too young” to have chronic pain.
I am 26; sharp stabs pierce my forearms, and I drop things. Coworkers call me clumsy.
I am 32; Doc says I wear wrist braces “too often.”

I am today, defeated.

At 26, I had to stop keeping handwritten journals.
I grieve this loss.
I miss the feel, the texture, the press of pen to page.
I miss selecting a unique notebook to represent “this chapter” of my life.

Digital journals allow me to write faster and with less pain. But what was once written in the slanty symbols of my emotive scrawl is now captured in common typeface.
Pages filled with standard font feel less remarkable — flat.
Pages imprinted with handwritten words feel… alive:

A photo of a handwritten page, with slanted blue penmanship, scribbled-out words, and a page number noted at the bottom edge: 182.

In my journals, I would doodle shapes and sketches, illustrating dreams and scenes and salient moments. Nightmares might be penned in red, dreams in blue, with highlighters marking the meaningful bits.

I’d affix occasional photos in my journals. And while digital notebooks allow for attachments, I ache for what I’ve lost.
Compared to a one-page scrapbook of my preteen crush bordered by gel-pen stars & hearts and secured by six layers of scotch tape,

an online attachment lacks Life.

[Sigh.]
Pain prevents me from writing by hand.
I miss it.
I look at the analog chapters on my shelf and lament the now-stagnant growth of that series.

A photo of a shelf, which holds over 40 handwritten notebooks of different colors, shapes, and sizes.

Sometimes I consider printing out my 20-year span of digital diaries; they cover age 13 onward and overlap with handwritten works. My shelf could have addendums — pixelated products made into something more tangible.
But it wouldn’t be the same. That spirit imbued by handwritten words, absent.

And so:
No writing with pen and paper.
Keypads and pixels transcribe my thoughts, and neutral characters mask my inner atmosphere, muting emotive context.
I am here in these onscreen words,
but I am a flattened 2D avatar from a 3D realm.

An entire dimension of self, lost.

Decades of dreams have been quashed by my [apparently] incurable ailments.

Suffer or Stop, my two options.

Pain is invisible. It cannot be measured, leading to decades of dismissal by medical professionals, who are granted undue authority over one’s lived experience.
If they cannot see your pain, then it must be in your head. Anxiety. Hysteria.
(The Yellow Wallpaper morphs and mutates in my mind.)

I am today, frustrated.
Exhausted. Defeated.

And still, writing.

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Lelindé Page

I post snippets and long-form content from 30 years of my journals, dreams, fictions, and essays. Learn more here: https://lelinde.start.page/