How Writing Helped Me Through My Toughest Times
I am no stranger to sharing my experiences of what I have been through and helping others.
However, this blog isn’t the first time I have shared my writing. I have had multiple blogs, some I’ve shared and some I haven’t. Writing doesn’t always need to be shared. Sometimes it is far too personal. Sometimes all you need is to write for yourself.
To be honest, I only started writing for myself. English lessons never appealed to me at school. It was compulsory and realistically I had no choice. The purpose was to get a grade and be done with it. I never saw a bigger picture with writing. I wasn’t writing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I gained all the knowledge I did because I am able to write in the capacity I do now.
Why did I start writing?
Let me take you back to September time 2014. I wasn’t much of a reader. I could have thought of a million things I would rather have done than read. Books didn’t appeal to me — I enjoyed them when I read them and more often than not couldn’t put them down once I started. Anyway, I hadn’t read a book in some time and someone suggested the book Reasons to Stay Alive — by Matt Haig.
This book changed my life I believe. It was truly the first time I had ever been able to relate to someone in terms of what I was currently going through.
At first, with my anxiety, I felt totally isolated. No one around me, who I knew, suffered. I had never been subjected to learning about it or even knowing what a mental health illness was.
It was at this time I realised the effect words can have on someone. As I sat there with tears running down my face, dropping onto the pages, I couldn’t believe how words could have such an impact.
At this point, I decided to give writing a go myself. Anyone suffering from anxiety or at least an anxious mindset will know how active your mind is constantly worrying. You will always have something on your mind. I could talk for hours. Go on and on about anything and everything that goes through my mind sometimes with no real point. You just need to get things off your chest.
However, not everyone wants to listen and if you start talking to yourself, people may start to think you are going insane. The difference with writing is you are going to see what you are writing down. You can refer back to it. You can share. Or you can throw it away and be done with it.
How Writing Helped Me
Most panic attacks last around 20 to 30. Those 20 to 30 minutes can feel like a lifetime. Before I had been to therapy I didn’t have the tools I have now such as Mindfulness.
What I tried to do at first was keep myself busy by listening to some music or watch a film and hope it passed quickly. It never crossed my mind to pick up a pen and paper or open a word document.
I thought I was going insane. No one could see what was going on inside my mind.
When I started putting pen to paper and tapping away on a keyboard, it started to make more sense. Visibly seeing what was going on inside my head on paper, made it seem more real than I had only previously felt.
If I was having a panic attack I began to write. I would write down how I was feeling. What was fuelling the panic inside me and I could sometimes write myself out of it.
The same with my depression. I felt alone. I was scared to reach out for help from anyone close to me or anyone at all frankly. In my head, I felt weak. I hate the person I am when I go through a depressive episode because it doesn’t feel like me at all. Everything I know of myself is gone.
Suicidal thoughts are no stranger to me. Over the last four years especially, I have thought about taking my life to end the pain I was in. I didn’t want to die! I didn’t want to be alive feeling like I did/like I do. There have been a couple of nights worse than any I have ever experienced. A couple of nights where the thoughts could have turned into actions.
The first time, I picked up a pen and a notepad. I started to write. A few sentences in I realised I was writing a goodbye. A thank you. Was this a suicide note? I went with it. Crying the whole time. Scared of the words I was writing on the paper. By the time I got to the end of the second page, I had written myself out of it. I tailed it off in case someone found it so they knew it wasn’t a suicide note. I closed the notepad and took myself to bed.
Sleep, the only time I felt I could fully escape.
The second, wasn’t too different, this time on my laptop. I can cope with being low but this low was another level. It was early January and I wrote this post on my blog and shared it on some of my social media. This time it was me opening up about how I really felt. What I was really going through. I hadn’t been this truthful with anyone. Maybe not even myself. Part way through I realised how much of an emphasis what I was writing was on not wanting to be alive. I was tired and didn’t want to keep going through this. I definitely wrote my way out of ending it all but it was the responses I got back that changed everything.
The reason I shared what I wrote was because I wanted people to understand. I wanted people to know what it is really like to experience what I was going through.
Realistically, it was a cry for help. I had a small amount of support before but a lot of people, especially doctors and professionals looked at me like I was making it all up.
I couldn’t believe the amount of people who were in my shoes or were willing to be there for me. There was a reinforced sense that I wasn’t alone and people did care about me, more than I could ever know.
Putting My Writing To Good Use
Helping people had always been in my nature. If I had knowledge or something that others could benefit from then why not help others succeed.
I never give up in life. Part of the reason I am still here today. I spend my days constantly trying to better myself in every aspect of my life. I dragged myself out of a depressive hole too many times to count, more or less on my own. Tackled my anxiety, again and again, to take back control of my life.
I had to find my way along a path that wasn’t well known. One that is just being formed. This path hasn’t been walked by many and people are scared of this path. There is still a lot of stigma about it.
If I can share my experience of walking the path and finding my way out. I can help others take the journey themselves. Take back control of their life and find happiness in everything they do.