Writing for Mental Health

Writing is a powerful coping strategy for those with mental health issues. Beethoven, Plath, Hemingway, Woolf, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Kafka, and Dickens are only a handful of famous writers who struggled with poor mental health. Writing has often been an important therapeutic outlet for me. I believe that my poor mental health, instead of being a hindrance to my writing, has instead been its muse. For while my mental health has benefitted from my writing, my writing has also benefitted from my mental health. Writers often write because of their mental illness, not in spite of it. People with mental illness often feel more than others and have unique perspectives on the world. I have found multiple forms of writing can be therapeutic.

Expressive writing, or stream-of-consciousness writing, allows you to write what you feel in the moment. Story lines and linearity aren’t required. Instead, the point is to get down on paper what you’re feeling and thinking. It doesn’t have to make sense or include explanatory details. It doesn’t have to follow grammar rules. It is the literary form of vomiting up everything inside you to be loosed, revealed, and examined. Writing can help you figure out how you feel. Emotions can be confusing and sometimes even contradictory at times. Writing them down can make them more concrete and manageable. It also helps you externalize your thoughts and separate them from yourself. They are not part of you. They come and go. They are visitors, some welcome, some not. And you have the power to determine who will be allowed to stay.

Writing (or rewriting) your narrative is an incredibly powerful form of writing that allows you to dictate and define your life story. It allows you to make yourself the hero of your story, to show how you have overcome struggles and problems. It centers you as a survivor, not a victim. It allows you to reframe negative life events. It encourages you to externalize your problems instead of seeing them as an inherent part of yourself. It helps you realize the strengths you possess that got you through tough times. Some people decide to write a memoir that covers a specific event or period of time in their life, what they learned during that time, and how it shaped them.

Writing fiction can take you away from your reality, even if briefly, while you create a story from scratch. Making up a story allows you to use your creativity and imagination and frees you from your own mind. It allows you to dissociate (in a healthful manner) for a period of time and to become someone else, perhaps with completely different life circumstances, inhabiting a different time and place. The sky is the limit as you compose your story. You have complete control over your characters and what happens to them. Writing fiction can be freeing and exhilarating.

Writing notes to yourself can be used to help remember things that are bothering you. It’s a way of freeing you from mental angst in the present without worrying that you will forget to handle the issue at a later date. Many people actually have a dedicated worrying time set aside every day so that the rest of the day can be free of distressing thoughts and useless worry. I have found that often the issue seems much more trivial when I revisit it.

Blogging your thoughts and feelings can also be therapeutic. Getting positive feedback can help you feel less alone and more normal. Being able to share these thoughts and feelings with strangers can be easier than divulging them to friends and family. It can be easier to get unbiased input from the general public than from people who know you.

Writing has been an invaluable tool in my arsenal of self-care and the management of mental health issues. I would encourage anyone struggling with poor mental health to give it a try.

Boggled Blogger? How I Generate Blog Ideas

It can be difficult at times to generate ideas as a blogger. I have already experienced writer’s block several times even though I haven’t had my blog a full year yet. It seems weeks or months can go by without much inspiration, but then it all hits me at once and I have several ideas for blog posts. It’s feast or famine. Sometimes I’ll have half-finished or just-started blog posts that need to be fleshed out sitting in the drafts folder for a while. I figured it would be helpful for other bloggers to write a post divulging how I come up with ideas.

I read other bloggers’ posts on the topic of idea generation. This has helped me write posts before, and the ideas I get from them can lead to other ideas.

I write about what I know. If I am knowledgeable about a subject, I feel motivated and qualified to write about it.

I write about what interests me and what I want to know more about. Epiphanies about yourself, others, and the world can occur from writing about a topic.

I write about what bothers me. It can help to see if the same things that bother me, bother others. It can help me define for myself exactly why and what about it bothers me by writing it out. It’s cathartic.

I write about what many don’t want to write about. There are topics many would probably like to discuss on their blogs and about which they have strong feelings, but they feel uncomfortable because of the topic.

I write about the topics I enjoy reading about. If I enjoy blogs about a certain topic or written in a certain format, it stands to reason there are others out there that do, also. Reading about topics I want to write about can help me find a different perspective on the topic, something that wasn’t plumbed very deeply or at all, that I feel is important.

I write about current events and other relevant topics. If there’s something going on, whether an event, a movement, a trend, a controversy, or a cultural shift, I write about it if I feel I am informed enough to do so and have strong enough feelings on the topic.

I write about things that make me stand out/make me somewhat different from other people. We all have traits about us that make us unique. We can learn to expand our minds and embrace different perspectives by hearing from people different from us.

I write about my weaknesses and mistakes. It helps me process my grief surrounding them as well as encourage others who might be feeling like failures.

I sleep on it. If I’m having trouble thinking of an idea, sometimes I’ll wake up with a good one on my mind.

I take a long, relaxing shower. Something about showers aid in creativity and idea-generation for a lot of people, and I’m one of them.

I change my surroundings. Going out into nature, going for a drive, and traveling are all good ways to stimulate the creative juices.

I use mind mapping. Mind mapping is the act of combining two different topics into one and seeing where they intersect, what further knowledge can be gleaned or perspective can be taken by combining them.

Let me know if any of these ideas have worked for you or if you have any to add! Happy writing!

Let’s Talk Hobbies

Some people have many, some a couple, some none. Some are expensive, require a lot of skill, and/or take up a lot of time. Some are free, require no special skills/talent, and/or can be done anytime/anywhere. Some people prioritize making time for them, while others only do them as an afterthought when they’re bored.

What are your hobbies? What do you consider the definition of “hobby” to be? According to dictionary.com, it’s “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”. Using that definition, my hobbies are reading, writing poetry, watching movies, gluttony, taking sit-down showers (more about this in another post!), taking drives, and — my newest! — blogging. I hope to add exercising to that soon, although I guess there are definite non-pleasurable aspects to that activity when you’re first starting out in the pitiable shape I’m in. In listing them, I notice many of my hobbies are passive, solitary, and/or unhealthful.

Do you find you have the time/motivation to put into your hobbies after taking care of your daily responsibilities? Do you consider them important enough to prioritize as part of self-care so that you don’t get burnt out and so your entire identity doesn’t become worker/parent/spouse/etc? I’d love to hear what place (if any) hobbies have in your life.

Welcome to WritingOne3583

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! I feel drawn to having an outlet for myself to write about things that interest, bother, confuse, or inspire me. I wrote many short stories and letters as a child, kept a diary as a teenager, and have written several poems, as well. I find writing cathartic, and it’s one of the few things I believe I do with some level of skill (but that’s for you to decide). My blog topics will most likely be varied and a bit “all over the place”. I hope you enjoy the content and can relate or at least get a chuckle every once in a while out of my latest writing project. If no one reads my blog, it will just be an online journal, which is fine, as well. Regardless, I am going to strive to be as honest as possible and only write what’s on my mind and heart. Ttys!