Three years ago, I found myself unable to write. As I have been writing since I was nine years old, being too tense and anxious to focus on letters terrified me. At the back of my mind sat the nagging fear: what if I can never write again?
I experienced chest pains, words dizzied in front of my eyes, and my concentration wandered. Often, I thought of nothing and could not think of anything without slipping off into empty space. Worried, I went to an urgent care facility, where the nurse unexpectedly discovered I do not wear a bra, for some answers.
I was told I was experiencing ‘normal teen anxiety’.
To be told waves of dislocating panic and hesitancy to draw a deep breath is normal is eyebrow raising. I went home knowing I needed to do something, but unsure of what that something would look like.
I keep a journal. To write about my experiences is second nature to me. I sat down and wrote about how I felt and how I wanted to feel. I wanted to do more; I wanted to share those private thoughts and personal stories. I wanted to connect with people who can connect with me.
I decided to start Nin Chronicles after I realized I needed to find a natural way to heal. To come to terms and understand my anxiety, I needed to explore where it was stemming from. I sat down a wrote a lengthy piece about my feelings, fears, and hopes for the future. I needed to share my view with the world, and I did.
I wrote passionately terrible articles that I am now revising for clarity with a smile. I wrote about everything and anything troubling me; in that torrent of pent-up emotion, my anxiety poured out and flowed away.
I still experience hints of chest pain and deep, pressing worry today when I read something devastating and the feeling of helplessness; of being able to do nothing comes back. But now I write because I can do something: I can use my voice and my words in the name of awareness. One letter at a time, I can change the world. Writing is my healing.
My mind goes back to the urgent care facility today. Normal teen anxiety? How many people, then, struggle with such deep apprehension? The answering is staggering.
Anxiety can be effectively and consciously handled and as seen in many people, be there one day and gone the next. Many people suffering from generalized anxiety disorders work at healing and heal. I believe anxiety is not for life.
I am hopeful this advice will apply equally well to all you singers, dancers, painters, artists, and colorful creatives too, but here is how creative writing ultimately helped me overcome my anxiety and inspired me to bring more of what I am passionate about into my life.
6 Ways Writing Benefits Your Mental Health
- Writing gives you an outlet. Having a plethora of worrying and anxiety-driven thoughts occupying your mind and heart is not healthy and, when you are so full of negativity, there is little room for positive action to find room to grow. By expressing yourself in words, you give your emotions another place to go. When put down in ink, I find crushing thoughts and feelings become less daunting and more manageable. Suddenly planning a path forward is doable instead of impossible.
- Writing helps you find community. If you decide to share your creative writing, life experiences, and thoughts, you will connect with like-minded people. Community is a wonderful place to not only find support; you can also learn from people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences to yours.
- Writing helps you know yourself better. Looking at yourself in words is often a great way to see how you have grown over the years and see yourself more objectively as you are now, especially if you are honest in your journal writing. When you have anxiety, knowing yourself well can often help you pinpoint why you feel anxious. In looking over my journals from the past eight years, I watch myself grow and learn from my life’s experiences. In reading the stories I wrote over the past ten years, I notice how my style and voice has changed and how the themes and morals I always sought to share in my writing have also evolved or changed shape.
- Writing helps you find confidence in yourself. If you journal or write creatively, looking back on the excellent pieces of poetry and short stories you have penned, as well as the hard decisions you have made, it is impossible not to walk away with the knowledge you are a capable person with many skills and talents. This assurance is healing to one’s self-esteem.
- Writing helps you find acceptance. Not everything needs to be a battle, but it is tough to accept something you do not want. I find that, by writing short stories and poems about fictional characters making the decisions I cannot make yet, I am able to find acceptance more peacefully because I have already done it in writing.
- Pro Tip: Writing about fictional characters making decisions you are struggling with is a handy way to look at your situation objectively and through different eyes! Multiple perspectives, even if they all ultimately stem from you, may help you find the path for you more clearly.
- Writing helps you help other people. If you decide to share a piece about what helped you find your definition of happiness, chances are you might be giving a fellow person a hand up out of their rut.
Finally, if you are struggling with mental health, anxiety, or depression and nothing you are doing is assisting you, consider reaching out for profession help! Sometimes it is what you need and there is no shame or weakness in it.
So, whether you write privately or publicly, in a journal or on a blog, try weaving your experiences, dreams, and passions into your writing. It may help write away some or, over time, all your anxiety.
How do you manage the bumps in your life? Does creativity help you express yourself or help you get to know yourself better? Tell me below!
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