Writing My Life

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Okay… that’s enough of the depressing crap. I’m done. I’m back… maybe feistier than ever. That’s the great thing about feeling my feelings. After a couple of days, it’s done… history … door closed … locked … and bolted. This time it started on Tuesday morning. By Thursday night at 7 PM, I was back. Thank heavens. It sucked.
In the past I’ve written about my depression AFTER I was over it. I didn’t want to put myself out there. It concerns my friends and family, and I hate to get them all hot and bothered about me. For me, it’s a normal ebb and flow. I don’t really think of it as “bad” anymore. It’s just part of my emotional process. I don’t enjoy it, but if I start to panic and think of it as bad, it just makes it that much worse. So, I just hang on for the ride and do the things I know I need to do to help me through it. I never thought of myself as a creative person until I started writing, but, now that I know that it is a creative outlet for me, I identify with the brooding, creative type. We just have to go there sometimes. It’s food for the creative machine.
Awhile back, Jessica, my coach and fellow blogger, sent me an email during her graduate class at University of Texas. She said they were discussing the benefits of writing in a class called The Psychology of Sport. Her teacher said this about writing:
  • It doesn’t matter how often you write. 3-4 times/week may be better.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you spend writing.
  • The subject matter should be determined by the individual – by you.
  • You should write in a comfortable environment.
  • Writing is most effective when done immediately after trauma.

The benefits of writing are many. It works for coping with:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • cystic fibrosis
  • chronic pain
  • losing job
  • PTSD
  • depression
  • anxiety
It also helps in achievement settings. It helps remove any fear and anxiety.
Health benefits of writing are:
  • improved immune function
  • fewer visits to health care facilities
  • better self reports of overall health

I have intermittently kept journals throughout my life. I mainly wrote in them during bad times. I have scads of them in my bookcase. One day, after I’m long gone, someone can read about the rough times in my life. I was always told that if you have things swimming around in your head – obsessions, anxiety, fear – the act of writing them down takes them out of your head. Our brain only keeps circulating that which we haven’t processed. Once I wrote things down, it helped to clean out the messy clutter in my brain. Plus, it actually made me think about the issue I was dealing with in a way that made them real … or made it obvious that they were all in my head.

This time I decided to write about my depressive cycle while I was in it. I did it partly because I wanted to paint a picture of what I was feeling for myself. Now, I’m on the internet, so it’s a little embarrassing to put my nuttiness out there for everybody to see. But, I’ve been doing this long enough that I know there are people out there who are suffering and need to know that they are not alone, and the process helps me. By writing about it, I really did get to tease out what I was feeling, and it helped me to stay above the lowest point. I got there that first night, but, after writing my “box full of darkness” blog, the worst part melted away. The writing shined a light in the darkness.

I love the fact that my writing is also a record and sometimes a scrapbook. I go back now and look at past blogs when I’m struggling or if I’m frustrated about something. What did I do last time? Would I do that now? Did it work? Or, was it a temporary fix? I remember going back to my journals when I started counseling after my marriage ended. I had this idea that we had at least a good year  or two before it started to crash and burn, but my journals told me that we crashed 2 weeks after we married. In fact, 3 months after my marriage began, I asked a marriage counselor if it was too soon to call it quits. When I read that, I remembered it, but I had totally wiped that early memory from my brain. My recordings taught me that I wasn’t blind to what was happening. I knew it early on. I just failed to act. I have such a problem trusting my instincts. My journals show that over and over. Page after page, I talked about how I need to set boundaries… I needed to get out… this was not healthy … it was killing me. I knew it. My failure to act was the issue.

When I started blogging at Jessica’s prodding, I immediately loved it. I couldn’t sleep for 4 days with all the stories that were flooding my brain. I wanted to tell them all, and now I had an avenue. Most days, I don’t even have to think about what to write. Something just shows up. Every now and then, I get writer’s block. It’s real. I can’t think of what to write. If I do start writing something, I hate it. It’s too dry. There’s no creativity to it. There’s no “me” in it. It’s like a newspaper article devoid of any of the flavor of good writing. The last time I had writer’s block, I learned a new trick. I posted on FB that I had writer’s block and asked for topics. I got help from friends. I used a couple to get started. But, what it really did is it shook up my thinking. They had GREAT ideas. It was like a primer for a well. Their energy about my writing ignited mine. What I realized is that when I have writer’s block, I’m usually in a period where I’m judging myself too much. Maybe I’m not feeling good about myself. That particular time I got in a funk about what people think about me, and I censored myself so much that nothing could come out. I learned from the process.

I sometimes wonder if one day I’ll just stop writing as suddenly as I started. That might be kind of neat. You know… the old story of a spiritual impulse that eventually just ran its course. The well is dry. I don’t know. I just know there are days when I can’t NOT write. I didn’t want to write a second time today, but this topic was begging to be written. I have to do it when the topic is driving me because I won’t sleep otherwise. The urge is that powerful. I can see why artists get into a flow, and they have to work furiously to get something done. It’s as if something else is in control, and I am just a tool for expression. Those blogs are the ones that I love. They are imaginative, creative and interesting. Some days I just write. Eh…. not so good. But, I have to put my fingers to the keyboard on a regular basis in order to get to the gold. I can’t believe that I waited until I was 51 to start this incredible writing journey. I wonder where I’d be if I’d started sooner. But, I know this… everything in this world is as it should be. And, I’ll continue to work hard to take action on my instincts. I’ll have a legacy … a record … a picture of who I was in my short time here. That’s really freaking cool.

12 thoughts on “Writing My Life

  1. Reminds me of the song Breathe (2am): “2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
    If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me, Threatening the life it belongs to…” Glad your words keep coming out!

    • I’ll have to look that song up. And, yes, I’ve been awakened at night by a blog and have to write it before I can sleep. So funny. Thanks for sharing. You are a pretty good writer yourself.

  2. I read your first one and have continued to read them. I can’t write a coherent sentence much less anything that makes sense after a few of them. (By the way I know our past English teachers cover their eyes and peek through their fingers, as well as many of my grammar literate friends, when they see my name connected to anything written and say oh **** will she ever learn?!? At 50+ I can confidently say NO.), So, not only do I admire the fact you can and do it with your own unique flair, but because I know even if no one says it, your blogs are helping others. It may not be what you intended or even wanted to do, but I would be willing to bet others who struggle quietly with different things you have covered over the course of your blogs and felt alone, don’t quite feel that way any more. And, then there are the subjects, some of us would never dare to approach a few topics, but you have done it with such a flair, with your “me” in it, that it not only brings smiles and giggles, but some self evaluation and critical thinking at times. So, Sharon, thanks for putting yourself out there, thanks for sharing, and I hope your creative flow continues for years and years!

    • Awwww… Thank you, Jackie! You were one of my first encouragers when I first put myself out there in my writing. I was so scared I looked like an idiot, but I know others need help in putting words to their feelings. It IS the reason I continue. Thanks so much for your encouragement. Write for yourself if not for others…. If it speaks to you. But my guess is your photography is your self-expression.

  3. Sharon,
    Have you thought about writing a self-help book? Your writings could help a lot of people get through some difficult times. I think multitudes of people go through down times and put on happy faces. Thanks for being such a real and authentic writer.
    Beverly

  4. Leaving a legacy…that is totally cool. I have thought about that often and wondered what mine would be or if I would even have one. I still think you are one of the courageous people I know. I envy your creative mind even though I know it comes with dark times. I can relate to your “box full of darkness”…I’ve been there and don’t want to ever go back. I felt a little shiver of fear as I read your blog and wanted to respond but I was unwilling to “go there”. I wish I would have had your insight back then. I know it would have help me get through a frightening time in life when I thought I was very much alone in my experience. I have sense learned that we all go through dark time…some more than others. So glad that you are back to your spunky, creative, wonderful self. You amaze and inspire me!

    Bonni

  5. I’m glad you are on the upswing. I enjoy reading your posts and find that they often touch something in my heart and draw out memories. You can really write.
    All of us go through mood swings, but not on a clinical level. I have found that riding out the low times and just hanging in there works for me also. Sometimes these moments can be insightful.

  6. I’m glad I stumbled on your blog when I did – I have learned much from your writing. Although our lives look very different on the outside, there have been so many things in your blogs where I’ve said “THAT’S IT!” I’ve actually copied down a few things to keep in my own journal because they spoke to me that loudly 🙂 Yes, your blog is a marvelous legacy to leave behind, but it’s also diamonds while you’re still alive and kickin’ 🙂

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