About the journal
Deborah wrote this journal because she couldn’t find exactly the book she was searching for. ‘Often memoirs of pain are written in retrospect, but I wanted to describe exactly the perplexing nature of suffering and offer something useful to the reader, something tangible that would honour the experience and offer hope,’ she says. “Through writing I discovered it is possible to live fully and richly with pain and to "give yourself to life”.’
Giving Yourself to Life: A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal is a personal journal covering a year in Deborah’s life with a chronic pain condition that resulted from an accident in 2009 and that worsened in 2011 after surgery. The writing began on the day following the operation when a friend visited with a journal and said, ‘Write, Deborah. Write your way through.’ She wasn’t sure she could. She felt woozy on the drugs and fully extended riding the waves of pain but she made herself write five short sentences. And the next day she wrote some more and the day after that another entry. And slowly the writing expanded into a philosophical exploration of all the pains that beset an individual on a life path. She wrote about the emotional pain of losing a parent in childhood along with her feelings in response to the severe and devastating earthquakes in her home city, Christchurch. This strand of the memoir is told through conversations with her mother who lives in Christchurch. Throughout the process she was striving to articulate the lived experience of pain and to chronicle her medical journey, seeking knowledge and relief until eventually she reaches a place of acceptance.