When I was 13 years old I became bedridden from Lyme disease. Excruciating pain in my knees and back forced me to use a wheelchair, where I would remain until just before my 17th birthday. I couldn’t go to school, or even homeschool due to the severity and nature of my symptoms. I was in constant pain. Constant unknown. With fear and lack of hope that I would ever recover to enjoy a meaningful life.

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My one escape from the hell I was living was filming and editing videos.

I was falling into a deep depression, and my brother saw that I needed to do something with my time, and it had to be something I could do from bed. He taught me how to take videos I had filmed with our camera, and upload them to the video editing software that came with his Mac computer. Immediately I was hooked.

It became the main thing my friends and I did. We would make videos from my bedroom, acting out plays with scripts we found online or created ourselves, and made music videos with us lip syncing. When filming, I could be a character who wasn’t sick. I could change my story.

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I spent most of my time in my hospital-type bed, with its slanted backrest. So, we got one of those tables that can swing over the bed, which was perfect for holding my computer in front of me. We used a wireless mouse and keyboard, which I placed on my lap and next to me in bed. It allowed me the freedom to edit, even on my weakest and most painful days. (This was before the days of laptops and smart phones.)

We taught ourselves how to do claymation, and spent hours upon hours moving the little clay figures around the scene, and then spent even more time editing the video together.

My dad built a big blue screen, which allows a person to digitally change the background of whatever is filmed in front of it. My friends and I would film with it, adding fun backgrounds that made us look like we were in space, in a foreign land, or even just in a different bedroom. We became skilled with special effects, making it look like we could conjure objects and throw them across the room with our magical powers. Or disappear from one location, and re-appear in another.

It allowed me to think bigger than my bedroom. To imagine places where I wanted to be, and place myself there, even if only by means of special effect. I even put the blue screen next to my mom’s car and got in the driver’s seat, pretending that I was driving. Later, my mom drove me around the neighborhood so I could get the video footage for the shot. I would watch that video over and over, pretending that it was really me driving. It sure looked like it…maybe one day I could do it for real.

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I don’t know what my life would look like if I didn’t grow up editing those videos. I honestly don’t know that I would have made it through that dark time without the freedom that editing gave me. However, I do know this: editing videos changed the game for me. It not only gave me something to do with my time, but it allowed me to be creative, and use my mind in a positive way, even when my mind and body were failing me on other fronts.

I highly encourage teens (and adults!) going through similar challenges to find their own escape. Whether it’s editing videos, writing stories, drawing, crocheting, or something else… Find what gives you joy. Something you can do in whatever place you are in right now. It gave me the strength to keep fighting. It might just do the same for you.