Benedicte Stølen

Norway

I just turned 23 yesterday. I live in the west of Norway. I have been ill since I was 14 years old. I have always loved to sing and play music, although I've never had a naturally good voice. I play piano, guitar, violin, drums and ukulele. I found an old, half-broken violin in a friend's basement during a good period, and started teaching myself. I love it so much, but I am now too ill to play it. It takes too much strength to hold it up to my chin. After half a minute I get hot flashes, heart palpitations and breathing difficulties. Because of sound sensitivity and it being to "physical", I also can't play drums anymore. I was the drummer in a rock band for a short period. It was amazing, and I really miss it. But I can sometimes still play piano, and for a short period of time, on good days, I can also sing. But it takes a lot. 

After I fell ill I had to find hobbies I could do sitting in bed or in the sofa at home, so I started to knit. What I enjoy the most is making something for old friends that I haven't been able to keep in touch with after I got too ill to leave the house (most days). It's my way of letting them know I still think about them and miss them, even if I can't talk or be with them, and that they mean enough for me to use the little energy I have on making them something.

If I suddenly were to recover, I'd go off to university to study musical theatre. My dream since I was little was always to play in musicals. I started going to a theater/musical school when I was 8, and worked really, really hard. I then started collapsing at practice. The dance teacher would shout at me to get up, or else I'd be kicked out of the show. I soon got too ill to participate anymore, and would spend my days in bed at home. 

My biggest dream, however unlikely, is to play the part of Maria in West Side Story. That's why I chose to sing "Somewhere". It represents, to me, the hope of one day having my life back, being able to be who I am and do what I love.