“You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.”
― Joanne Harris
I began writing basically as soon as I learned my ABC’s. Writing is one of my earliest memories of something that made me happy, something that made me feel good about myself. I never thought about where writing may lead me, how important it would become to me, or that it may just save my life.
As I got older my writing changed and grew, from cute little poems, made up songs and stories into my thoughts and feelings. The biggest change happened when I was ten years old and my grandmother passed away. I was devastated, my little ten year old world was shattered, I had no idea what I was feeling or how to deal with it (talking about feelings and emotions was not something readily welcomed in my family.) That is when I first made a connection with writing as something more than just a hobby I enjoyed. I began pouring my little heart out pages and pages, of my thoughts, feelings, pain, confusion, fear, it was as if I was talking to someone else, someone bigger, more powerful, much wiser then I, someone who would have the answers I so desperately longed for.
As the years went on I always came back to writing. Years of facing depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, self-hate, shame, anger, fear, pain, confusion, and my deepest darkest secrets all poured out of me onto paper. It was my way of expressing myself, releasing things I felt were not acceptable to talk about out loud, and writing allowed me to feel safe while doing so, it was like a purge of overwhelming emotions, they piled up and pored over onto paper again and again.
Jumping ahead; I am now 25 years old, and getting the help I need, my counsellor encourages me to write as much as I can. I still express myself much better on paper then I do out loud. Anxiety is something I did not realize I had until recently, and the more I drudge through painful experiences and traumas from my past the more my anxiety is triggered, I have struggled to find tools that work for me in order to not let anxiety rule my life.
A lot of my anxiety stems from feeling as though I have no control, no control over my thoughts, my body, my environment, my emotions, reactions…etc. The more out of control I feel the higher my anxiety gets and the higher my anxiety gets the more out of control I feel.
Dizzy yet? Yeah…me too.
Recently I was looking through my books of writing over the years, from when I was a teenager, how it started off so dark, confused and hopeless, I watched it slowly transform into understanding, hope, strength, wisdom and I realized I never once hid in my writing, never pretended to be someone I wasn’t, never pretended to being doing better then I felt. Pure, raw, vulnerability and emotion was all I saw on those pages and in that moment I realized, that writing saved my life.
I also realized how much writing gave me a sense of control. After trying breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise to help with my anxiety, (which, don’t get me wrong all of these things are fantastic and worked to a certain extent, helping me feel calmer, healthier, etc… and I still practice them.) None of them really grounded me, none of them centered me, and none of them freed my mind from the constant stream of anxious thoughts or the feeling of falling with nothing real to hold onto.
Then I realized that is exactly what writing gave me and had given me all these years. Writing is my control, writing is what centers me, grounds me when my world seems to be in complete chaos, writing makes that all fade away. I am free; I am in my safe place. Writing puts me in control of my feelings, my emotions, and my thoughts, writing hands me the pen and says “here you go, you’re in control, show me what you’ve got”. Writing has never controlled me, rejected me, shamed me, hurt me, it never told me what to say, feel or think, it never told me I wasn’t enough. Writing listens, accepts, and loves, no exceptions, no questions, and no judgements. Realizing this has helped deepen my connection with writing, I can feel what I write with my mind, body and soul. I can feel the anxiety rising in my chest when I bare my truths onto paper, but I can also feel the release of whatever emotions get stirred up when I am done pouring them onto paper, it is like an emotional cleanse through writing. Writing is where I can be so honest, so vulnerable and still continue to surprise myself. Writing brought me back to life.
Photo by Rory MacLeod