Given that today is World Mental Health Day I thought that I would take the opportunity to offer some of my thoughts about how writing can help to deal with mental health issues. I’m a big supporter of MIND and Time to Change, in fact I’m due to be taking part in this years Great South Run to raise money for mind;
and I know from experience that sometimes it is small bits of advice and coping strategies that can make the difference. So for what its worth here’s a small tip from me.
I have had periods in my life where I have suffered from extreme stress which has spiralled into anxiety and depression. There are two things that I have found which helped me to deal with it; one was running, the other was writing.
There can be a cathartic quality to writing which makes it invaluable in helping me to deal with any times in my life when I am down, sad, confused and even when I was genuinely suffering from mental health issues. In my case I prefer to write fiction, where I will often end up, in my first draft at least, projecting the issues that I have had, or the things that make me angry or stressed onto my characters. This can often come across as too much but its easily fixed in the later drafts and somehow by finding ways to smooth these out my characters often helps me to identify ways to smooth things out in myself and helps me to cope better.
I am in no way saying that if you go and sit down and write down everything that you are feeling you will automatically feel better and it will all go away. Instead my point is simply that this action helped me, it gave me a chance to see and understand the issues that were really bothering me and causing the underlying issues as these were the ones to come to the surface the most often. It allowed me begin addressing those issues because I was then able to recognise them.
So who knows taking a bit of time out to write everyday, whether it be to write a diary, a blog or even to write fiction it may help to work through and find ways to deal with any problems you have day to day.
Best of luck to any of you out there who are battling with mental health issues today. Just remember you aren’t on your own.