by Guest Blogger – Maria Miguel
All of us encounter stressful and traumatic experiences in our lives. We could be fighting everyday battles of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. For me, I find a special comfort in the written word. I can read countless novels and teleport myself into the writer’s worlds. The characters come alive on the pages, and I can visit faraway places conjured up in the minds of the author.
As a writer, I use words to relay emotions and thoughts I can’t exactly form orally. Over the years, writing has been the consistent and most therapeutic method to ease my stress. As someone with obsessive compulsive personality disorder, this is sometimes a challenging task. When I am writing, either about my life or creating my own characters and stories, I am able to work through the best — and worst — times in my life. Through this introspection, I find some of my greatest strength. For me, it’s easier to write about how I am feeling versus talking about every single rumination. Writing allows me to collect my thoughts.
Even if you aren’t a seasoned writer, give it a shot. After all, you don’t have to share your musings with anyone but yourself. Writing can help you assess patterns in your behaviors, increase your sense of self-identity and determine goals and objectives. For example, if you have been struggling with depression, writing about your feelings could help you determine that you are depressed because you are in a failing relationship, don’t enjoy your current job or feel overwhelmingly hopeless because you see the world through a loved one’s sickness.
Here are some tips to use writing as a form of therapy in your own life:
Keep a journal.
Write in this journal as often as needed. I recommend writing every day. It’s OK if your journal writing isn’t structured and is more stream of consciousness. Make your journal an extension of your personality. I write all of my dates in French and tend to purchase journals that are vintage, Parisian or “Wizard of Oz” themed.
Write a letter to yourself or someone else.
If you’re in the midst of letting go of something or someone, writing a “goodbye” letter could work for you. If you weren’t able to say what you wanted to say, then this could be a way to get your feelings out in the open without ever sending the letter or email. You will tell your truths in your internal narrator’s voice, which can be extremely therapeutic. You won’t be bottling up your emotions.
Detail your emotions in poetry.
We all probably had to read and write poetry in high school. For some of us, we didn’t understand the stanzas in front of us; however, poets draw from their own experiences and emotions to pen their poetry. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, make a list of images, such as in your bedroom, from your childhood days, from a stressful situation, etc. Then, write a list of senses you experienced associated with these images. Write down your emotions related to the images and senses. After this process, write a poem containing these words and images. You will be able to show yourself — and potential readers — how you are feeling without having to put blatant labels on your emotions.
Be prepared to uncover good and bad memories.
During the writing process, your mind could rediscover thoughts and emotions associated with something bad that happened in your life. For example, if you are writing about lost loves, you may think of a former significant other who wasn’t faithful. You may feel helpless as you write about your parents’ divorce. However, you could also relive the best parts of your life, such as the birth of your child, achieving a goal, traveling to your favorite location and more. Using writing as therapy can help you forgive yourself and others. You can reflect on situations and improve into your best self because you have learned from your successes and mistakes.
Write fiction based on your nonfiction experiences.
Often, when we use writing as therapy, we talk about our personal journeys. Use your own story and craft your own characters. If you are uncomfortable writing about a traumatic experience of your own, have your character experience the event. Writing about specific emotions can help you in the healing process. If you decide to share your writings with someone else — or even a mass audience — the works centered on your experiences and emotions could help others going through the same type of situation. This gives you a new role and gives your writings even more meaning that is greater than you.
To figure out if writing could be therapeutic for you and to find more therapy options, seek out a licensed professional to talk with you about your mental health disorder and its effects and solutions.
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn’t been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs. Even though she doesn’t run one for herself she loves contributing to others.