Writing when struggling with your mental health
Writing can be your personal space. It doesn’t have to be shared or sound good. It is simply a means to express yourself. I have always liked writing, but it became a lifeline when I was struggling with depression.
I write single sentences, or a word that summed up a feeling or emotion. I would free write whatever was flowing through my head. It helped to get it out on paper. It released me a little and made it real. Sometimes with mental health, you can feel like you’re making things up or people can’t see what is wrong. To me writing it down helped make it real and let me give evidence that things weren’t okay.
Essentially writing made me trust myself and my experiences.
It can also be a medium to express things that are hard to talk about or who you are not yet ready to share with someone else. This might especially be true if you feel like you don’t understand how you are feeling or why you feel the way you do.
Sometimes though a blank page is hard, and if you’ve struggling with motivation because of your mental health anyway doing something more like writing can seem too much. It can help to set a time to do it and a time limit. This is not something that has to take a lot of time, 5 minutes at the beginning or the start of a day can make a difference to your mental health.
It can also be daunting knowing where to start. There are times when I have got stuck on just feeling sad, and don’t know what else to say, these are a few prompts and suggestions that have helped me in those times:
- What would I want someone to say if I told them what’s happening for me? How do I feel about the support I am getting?
- Free Write. Literally just write whatever comes to your mind. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. We can make sense out of nonsense. Write for 5 minutes, even if you start by writing I don’t know what to write, eventually your mind will loosen.
- Pick an emotive event/ something you are struggling with and describe it only using metaphors (saying something is like something else).
- Write in the form of a letter, if there is someone or something you need a sense of closure from this can be helpful to write this out even if you never intend to send it. I share some words I wrote when I was struggling and trying to make sense of myself and where I fit in.
I feel empty
And I don’t know why.
I feel like a part of me
But I’m not sure
I would even know
If I found it.
I don’t know what it feels like
To be whole.
Maybe we never are –
Whole suggests an understanding
Of everything I am,
And I do not think that is possible.
By Alice Billington
I share a poem here not to give guidance on how or what you should write, but to reassure that your writing doesn’t have to make sense or to come to an answer, it might be a lot of questions, but if that is what is on your mind it is worth writing it.
Thank you to our Young Ambassador Alice for sharing her words with us.
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