Writing Storied Mind is one of the most important things I do to stay well, but it’s not easy. I struggle with writing and I thrive on it. I need to write and I long to get away from it.
I discover what I’m all about by writing, and I get lost and confused in the jumble of words. Writing has been the best therapy for depression, and it has been a trigger for depression.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While talking recently with a therapist about getting mired in trying to finish my ebooks, I realized that I needed to describe here what happens when I write. It says a lot about awareness and the action I take to live well.
Here’s a list of the ways in which writing helps. They are also the reasons why I write this blog. I’ve put them down in no special order as quickly as I could in order to silence my double-thinking censor (more on that voice below).
- I confront the fear of probing inside my life where things get ugly, and walk with words right into it. The words help me get around the paralysis that fear brings and let the feeling run its course.
- I write to deal with resistance to completing anything. I’ve often given in to the belief that I’m too incomplete inside to get anything done. Writing calls me back.
- My mind on depression is a master of distraction and delay. There’s a purpose in writing that keeps my focus when I wander off. It trains my will to stay with the task.
- Writing sharpens my skill at observing what I do, feel and think, and it helps me to pick out the shadows depression adds to everything.
- It develops my awareness of the people in my life and helps me see them as they are instead of as projections of my fear or insecurity.
- Writing strengthens my ability to choose where I focus my attention.
- I often pour out a confused jumble of ideas that stop my brain. Writing forces me to pull out the one clear thing that needs to be said.
- Writing is my way to discover new things. It’s about learning, not just verbalizing what I’ve already thought.
- It’s creative in the sense of putting things together in unexpected ways. It surprises me.
- Publishing my writing on this blog connects me with people through a dialogue of healing stories.
- Writing keeps me engaged with depression and makes it a familiar but no longer debilitating companion. Some people stop blogging because they worry that thinking about it will worsen their condition. The opposite is true for me.
- Writing is energizing and revitalizing. It opens my mind while depression tries to narrow it.
- Writing helps me step around the mental traps depression sets. It brings out the difference between describing what happens and judging it. If I’m lost in my depressed mind, I’ve got a mental ruler that measures everything against a standard I can never meet. As soon as I start writing, I can see the process in action. I can pull away the wrong, the bad, the worthless, the blaming tags tied onto every thought. Or I can vent in writing for a while and then cut them all out when I start describing and discovering instead of judging.
- It brings me face to face with the double-thinking censor I mentioned before – the one who is always over my shoulder saying things like, “Oh, no, you can’t say that. No, you’re all wrong here. …” The voice is cleverly manipulative and knows my weak spots, but after a while its words lose their effect because they’re repeated over and over until they’re just sound.
- Writing brings me closer to the metaphors that shape the way I think about things. I have to link everything that’s hard to understand or live with to with some other dimension of life that is simpler and less confusing. Everyone has to do that to make sense out of the world. If I think of getting well as a fight or a war or a wrestling match with depression, then the outcomes are win, lose or stalemate. If I say getting well is a journey, I’m going to get to a destination or I’m going to get lost. If I think of depression as a test of faith or of character, then I’m going to succeed at that test or fail. Writing helps me see the limits of the comparisons as I put them into sentences and describe what I plan to do in those terms. It reminds me that I have more freedom of action and thought than the metaphors suggest.
The rewards and miseries of writing come from the same sources. Writing this blog keeps depression and everything that goes with it at the center of my attention for part of each day so that it will no longer be the center of my life.
Does writing help you deal with depression? Do you have an equivalent of writing that does the same thing?