The benefits of writing to your mental health
Today Mind Poet Katie Lewington, takes over my blog to talk about how writing helps her on a day to day basis.
You cannot really argue with something once it is written on the page. That is the way it is. What are you going to do about it? On the page it is there to be read, to be contemplated, and to be discussed. I think of writing as similar to the pensieve in the popular Harry Potter series of books. The pensieve is a shallow dish, typically made of stone. In this dish the Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore puts his memories to be recreated at a later date. That then serves as a handy reference, because let's face it it is difficult to remember everything.
I believe writing gives you power. It can help you to process thoughts, and find solutions too. I have found from the past when you write something from trauma suffered you take control back from your abuser. Writing can take you from a toxic situation, and give your mind somewhere safe to lodge until the danger has passed.
When I was in secondary school, between the ages of eleven, and sixteen I was socially isolated, and had anxiety, and depression. I was also self-harming. In my six years at that school I wrote a young adult novel, and created the androgynous protagonist Jude. I poured all of my thoughts and emotions into the story, and into the characters. My notebooks steadily filled with this world, which became a safe place to express myself, and explore how I was feeling. In the story I was the person that I longed to be. It was where I embellished on the injustices I felt that were happening to me, whether that be a teacher who had kept me at lunch for not completing my work, or a teacher parent meeting where I was spoken of, and not to. (Of course, I was a teenager, so a few of these injustices were petty!)
Perhaps writing is only counter productive when you are putting too much of yourself into it, because you are effectively speaking to yourself. So need fresh ideas, and to have an open dialogue with somebody to provide balance. This is why writing can work alongside talking to a professional counsellor.
Writing is an encompassing activity. It is a way of cornering a certain subject, bundling it up, and putting it on the page, as well as being a record of how far you have come. Many writers would agree that feeling of relief when you have written something from what has been troubling you is immensely satisfying. You can walk away from the piece feeling much lighter, as I did after writing this.
Read Katie's work in Please Hear What I'm Not Saying, which this month additionally raises money for The Joshua Nolan Foundation in Scotland, for prevention of suicide.