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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Writing as therapy, a creative hobby and the sense of achievement it arouses

Writing has been self therapy for me – very cathartic. It may not be for everyone but I can share how it has helped me.

Firstly, writing things down that troubled me aided my coping skills since I was thirteen years old. I could ‘talk’ to my diary about family life, where I’d been, what I’d done, what clothes I’d worn, and most of all if any adversities came my way – like my mum causing issues, boyfriends taking advantage, my brothers’ behaviours’, rape, self harm, eating disorder and so on – they were all written down, which kind of ‘saved’ me at the time. Sharing my experiences through the written word was like telling a friend and letting it all out. If I had a bad day I penned it in my diary and as the words flowed out of my head, I felt relief from my troubles. Then the next day I could start afresh.

Not everything was forgotten just because I wrote it down, but it helped a lot, especially at the time of growing up through adolescence, learning how to cope with difficulties, changes and the encompassment of loneliness – what I now know was, in fact, mental illness.

I didn’t write everything down and was careful as to how I described things, particularly when it came to sexual conduct. I had my own shorthand to say what went on. I was also terrified at the thought of anyone else finding and reading my diaries, so I had them under lock and key, hidden under my bed. I also didn’t discuss my youngest brother’s bullying – physical and mental – in my diaries or any written form. I wish I had now as those experiences still bother me to this day. And that is why I know that writing things down helped me.

When re-reading my diaries for the first time whilst beginning my self help journey in my thirties, I found disturbing entries – things I had long forgotten about, simply because I had written them down at the time. It upset me having to listen to an alien teenager spill her heart out into words as I read them out loud. It was like the diaries I read were nothing to do with me at all – a person with totally different ideals and ideas. But, the sad fact was, it was me who’d written them and they were true – one thing I never did was lie

It broke my heart. It made things worse in my current difficult life coping with depression, BPD, OCD and anxiety. I really felt sorry for that girl. I still couldn’t see it was me in those diaries. I do not feel sorry for myself so I had to take it all in and deal with it, all those years later.

So, I wrote about myself as self therapy. I pieced all the diaries, photos, texts, emails and letters together, like a jigsaw puzzle – everything in one place – and wrote about that journey of working out who I was, how I got there and how to undo the negative personality traits certain experiences had produced.

Now I do not in any way condemn doing this sort of self therapy, but, for me, the writing in latter years, for my website, my book and though connecting with others on Face Book and Twitter etc. I do find very rewarding.

It is good to talk, but when you don’t have anyone physically in front of you to talk to, then writing diaries/journals, blogs (if comfortable to put it out to the world to see) or social networking/forums, can be the place to vent or find individuals who have been through or go through the same as you.

I did not have interaction with any social networks when I was in a bad way, and I am not one to share too much emotion in that way, but having recently given my memoir away for five days in order to spread the word to everyone willing about mental illness and the terrible stigma that surrounds it, I found that a large number of those who downloaded and read it (already within this last 8 days) have told me that they could relate in one way or another, or in some cases, many ways.

It pleases me in a way because I know I am letting people know they are not alone by publishing my whole life of internal and external problems, and that there is hope to eradicate negatives in our lives, but in a way it saddens me, of course, because I also hope that those people do not suffer the same and get the help in a better way than I did.

It seems to work in both ways. By writing my story I have ‘let it all out’ of my mind. By sharing my story I have helped others feel less alone. And, I hope, if those who do not suffer mental illness read my story, I will educate them in how mental illness feels on the inside, looks like on the outside, and how stigma does nothing but make those who suffer, suffer more.

I hope, also, that my story is accepted as another detailed case study by the mental health profession, so that they may learn just a tiny bit more about Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and stigma.

I personally feel that writing everything down has been rewarding – not monetarily, but as a self therapy and ‘understanding myself’ point of view.

I continue to write, articles like this one, or short stories about my experiences, for my website or mental health charity websites and much more, and each time I do, I learn just a little bit more about myself and others. Writing continues to help me deal with life, feeds my creativity and givers me a sense of achievement.

How about YOU – have you found writing to be helpful, unhelpful, liberating, cathartic, relaxing… ?  Please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Take care,

Amanda 🙂


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9 comments to Writing as therapy, a creative hobby and the sense of achievement it arouses

  • Raylynn

    Gorgeous post! I have found such great healing in journalling and I am grateful that my brain responds to it almost instantly because I’ve done it so much in the last few years. Nice job & keep up the good work!

    • amandagreenauthor

      Glad to hear it Raylynn, I love writing too and continue to do it – blogging, journaling, all sorts. I have just chosen art therapy for my counselling course research project, specialising in writing and photography therapy, so I cannot wait to learn more and be able to use it with my clients 🙂

  • christina

    Starting our blog, and getting my husband writing again is one of the main reasons we are getting through each day.
    I’m so glad it has helped you too, and that you continue to grow 🙂
    As an aside, every time I read a tweet or post by you I think to myself ‘darnit, I keep forgetting to get her book!’ I need to do that!

    • amandagreenauthor

      Hey thanks for reading my blog Christina, I am glad you recognise the power of writing too. It’s lovely to get feedback 🙂

  • E Frost

    Wonderful, honest, open post, Amanda. One of the more precious gifts I’ve received in my life was my grandmother’s diary. She passed it to me through her will, and I was surprised by how candid it was. I’ve read it several times and am moved and touched each time that she trusted me enough to have it after her death. A very special gift.

    • amandagreenauthor

      Wow, Emma that is a special gift indeed; and a lovely thing to pass down, as we only have writing, photos and videos to tell our stories when we are not here any more. And in a diary a person can say it exactly how it is at the time 🙂

  • Michele G

    Writing for me is therapeutic because it allows me to reflect back on my darker days.

  • amandagreenauthor

    Carol, thank you and I am so glad you downloaded a copy of my memoir – yes indeed I do hope it will help you with the brilliant work you do helping people to write for their well being. I have just been checking out what you do and it is such a co-incidence as I was chatting with someone on face book the other day and we were saying how brilliant it would be to have creative writing for therapy connected to the NHS – and here you are just two days later!!! WOW, I love it and am going to read so much more of what you do – I hope there are others doing this! 🙂

  • Carol R

    Brilliant post Amanda and thanks for making your book free for a while. I downloaded it and I’m sure I will learn a lot from reading it to help me understand the people I meet in my writing groups. Carol.

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