Writing is an excellent tool for improving mental health
Although being an author was not a dream, writing has always been an interest. From a young age, I liked spelling bees and enjoyed English classes, and when I started working in corporate, I learned the craft of written business communications. Ironically, I didn’t particularly appreciate reading back then. Reading didn’t become of interest until later in life when I started to feel lost. I remember engulfing myself in all sorts of self-help books looking for answers. The more I learned, the more I craved different topics and even read many memoirs paying close attention to human behavior and how others overcame the stress of life.
In my book, I Cu Copper, about my journey with copper toxicity, I reveal how no one was hearing me—ultimately suffering trauma because no one was listening. That trauma led to literally losing my voice. My confidence bottomed out, and my ability to communicate just plain quit. The only outlet I had was journaling. When I was stressed, depressed, tired or anxious, I wrote how I felt. Writing in those journals was so cathartic and saved my life.
How writing helped me overcome trauma
The inability to connect with the outer world or no one hearing me caused me to feel like I was crazy. On top of that, doctors kept providing antidepressant prescriptions that didn’t help my anxiety, depression, or fatigue. I knew in my heart that something was causing my symptoms, and these drugs were only a bandaid. So I began to write in my journals, accessing an inner world of feelings and releasing them on paper.
At some point, most people will write something that pours out their hearts either in frustrated anger to complain or a sad letter to express hurt from another person. Putting it in writing is a feel-good action, even if it’s not sent or delivered.
Writing full-on feelings in a closed space of thoughts alleviated the feeling of judgment from others. It also allowed the flow of inner thoughts to happen more easily.
Looking back at what I wrote
When I reread my journals to write my book, I realized how connected I was to the truth. I wrote thoughts that I could not speak. The freedom of writing felt almost trance-like because it came from my heart, not my mind. I wrote whatever I was feeling without worrying if or how it would be received. The words in those journals were so powerful and full of love and authenticity. My book is full of those feelings taken from my journal notes.
I no longer feel awful from that trauma because I healed by releasing those emotions on paper and understanding my thought process. Of course, I’m not implying that writing will immediately eliminate pain nor that it is gone forever. I worked through many memory triggers that surfaced. However, those experiences were unique to me, and only I could make sense of my feelings. Even the most educated psychiatrist couldn’t tap into what I felt. Writing transformed the feelings into words that myself and others understood. In addition, writing my story improved my confidence and empowered my ability to live my truth.
The dangers of holding in thoughts and emotions
Keeping things to myself when no one was listening caused me to suppress my feelings and withdraw. Depression and anxiety symptoms clung to that feeling of being less. But after gathering those journals and transcribing my truths, my mood improved, and I no longer felt drained physically. I didn’t actualize the reality of my feelings about the trauma I encountered until I wrote about it. That self-expression aided me in understanding the magnitude of the situation and helped me feel again and deal with my emotions rather than previously explaining the pain to a doctor.
Stressful situations can have a negative impact on health
I was in a vicious cycle of either no one listening, so I didn’t speak, or when I did speak, I adjusted the narrative to what I thought they might want to hear out of fear of judgment. Most people react this way because they worry too much about what others think of them. Whereas writing from the heart opens up a self-assured voice with ownership of emotions that lacks fear. I now practice inviting my higher self to join me when I write.
My experience is that getting in the flow and writing from the heart about anything upsetting can improve mental and even physical health. It has been a definite stress reducer for me. So the next time you feel depressed, anxious, or physically dealing with any illness, try writing what you feel from your heart. Then if you feel comfortable, take the next step to share with someone you trust. The more you express those deep feelings, the more you release the pain holding onto you. I found it improves the relationship with self and others.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” ~ Anne Frank
Prolonged silence robbed me of living a fulfilled life. Had I not discovered my voice through writing, I can only guess how miserable I might still be from existing rather than living.
Research suggests that self-awareness over verbally expressing emotions could elicit mental health improvements. Self-awareness is the ability to turn inward to yourself and connect with true feelings that create better awareness of feelings, traits, behaviors, beliefs, values, and motivations. Having a better understanding and self-awareness increases confidence and allows for more acceptance of self and others.
Writing has created self-awareness to the point that I make better decisions, I’ve drastically decreased anxious thoughts and perceived stress, and I am happier overall. In addition, writing combined with meditation and breathing techniques learned in yoga keeps me grounded in self-awareness.
“Fill Your Paper With The Breathings Of Your Heart” ~ William Wordsworth
If you are looking for a natural way to combat depression and anxiety, I highly recommend giving writing a go. Take some well-deserved quiet time to write down your feelings about a stressful event, and don’t hold back. Let your emotions flow naturally on paper, in a journal, or on your computer without worrying about spelling, grammatical correctness, or what others may say. Then take time to reread it a few days later to identify insights into your behaviors, beliefs, and feelings. Of course, like any treatment, it has to be consistent or practiced regularly for the best results.