How to Stop Bleeding

Slow it down to hold on

Most of the power I have is in my hands and in my head. Since I was laid-off from my editor job, I can’t really get you published. It’s nice to work for no one now except me. But I watch tides of power shift, and all I can give out is bits of myself, how I have made it this far, how to think about going forward.

I’m not sure how to write this summer, especially not the deep attention that creative work needs.

As a single parent, summer has never been the break for me that can be for others. There’s no block of alone time waiting for me, there never was. Remote school, as difficult as it was for my child with high needs, at least occupied him for a few hours a week. Now, even that’s gone. There are few opportunities for playing with other kids—just bike rides, six feet apart. A neighbor plans water fights at a distance. 

But all this requires supervision, my attention, which has never been so divided before. In my nightmares I have trouble holding on.

But in my waking life, I can slow blood. 

Image Source

I can’t stop it, the slow wounds which are draining most of us: illness, fear, inequity, anxiety. But I can slow it down in my own life a bit. Slow it down to hold on, stay alive for a little longer, until something else changes because—for good or bad—it will.

Before I had a child, I wrote as soon as I woke for as long as I could, not stopping even for food until I had reached my word limit for the day. When my child was little, I wrote when he slept. Don’t sleep when the baby sleeps; write when the baby sleeps—and I did, often with him strapped to my chest. I wrote in the car. I wrote in the lobby of the rec center where he went to a few hours of daycare (there wasn’t enough time to drive home and back), and I couldn’t find or afford more care.

The day he went to kindergarten, I drank a glass of champagne with friends, then went to work. And every morning since then I have gotten to work (without the champagne). I made it a rule for myself not to waste time doing an ounce of domestic chores, even washing a dish, until my child came home from school. 

But now there’s no more school. 

To create now I think we have to find a new way. The old ways are gone, and the more we have stacked against us, the more they’re gone forever. 

Maybe I will have to write with the music of Star Wars swelling in the background for the foreseeable future. Or stay up later. Maybe my sentences will become shorter. My dialogue more clipped, or stories fragmented. Maybe I will write about what could be, rather than what was. Maybe I will write from a new world.

Maybe I only get an hour a day—and maybe that’s not enough to do the 1,000 words or so I have used as a daily goalpost for the last few years of my life. The goalpost has shifted. The field has shifted, and all the weeds growing up, wild and thorny, are new to me. 

But if there’s one thing I can do, it’s figure out what to do with some plants.

Image Source: The Evergreen State College


All I know is: yarrow slows bleeding.

The herb was traditionally used to stop wounds: the powdered form or leaves and flowers pressed directly onto cuts, even wounds from battle. Achilles, according to legend, carried it with him to war, used it to pack wounds. It is sometimes called the hero’s herb or hero’s cure for that reason.

Yarrow can look similar to the very poisonous hemlock, however, so this is a plant better purchased in stores, rather than foraged, in my opinion—and it’s one to AVOID during pregnancy, as it can lead to miscarriage.

When needed, I take a few swigs of yarrow extract in liquid form. That, combined with some Vitamin C, I have found can really lessen the severity of bleeding. We’re not talking injuries that need professional medical attention, but cuts from shaving, knife cuts, menstrual bleeding, minor scrapes. 

If you need to keep going, just keep going. If you need to change direction, change direction. What you’re making is usually better than you know at the time.

All I can do now is hold space for my writing and hope it returns to me, changed.