Daily Archives: June 3, 2018

How Writing Can Be Therapeutic

black and blue plastic pen non top of black covered notebook

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I write because I have to. It’s what I do. It’s also how I make my living (along with editing and proofreading and now, transcribing). But I also feel that writing is therapeutic for me.

Maybe it can be for you too. Let’s look at some different kinds of writing and how they might help.

Journaling

Journaling is what I actually set out to do when I started this blog. I meant it to be a day-to-day journal of my feelings, my accomplishments, and my difficulties. At the time, however, I was rather depressed and could see only difficulties, not accomplishments.

Journaling works for a lot of people because they can have a record of their mood swings, as well as a place to work out problems and say things they can’t say to anyone else. If they wish, they can share the journal record of moods with a therapist. Journaling is kind of like keeping a diary, but more purposeful.

Blogging

I turned my journaling into a blog. What had started, to be honest, as a lot of whining became a space where I could share stories about what happened to me and others, where I could examine news stories and media statements about bipolar and mental illness, and post opinions about coping and stigma and relationships and medication and all the other fun stuff that goes with mental illness.

Blogging is one way to reach out to others. And there are other people out there who want and need to hear what you say. I have blogging friends who share unique insights that alter how I see my disorder and how I cope with it. Think of blogging as a journal you publish, at least in a limited way.

Unsent Letters

This is a technique that therapists use to help you surface your feelings toward another person and have a safe space to explore those feelings. The fact that you never send the letter means that you can focus on your own feelings and not worry about what the other person might think or say about it.

I’ve used unsent letters to unpack my confusion about IMs from another person. Instant messages are not really the place to hash out the nuances of a relationship or what deeper meaning a particular comment may have had.

Usually, by the time you’ve finished, the letter no longer even needs to be sent, though I advise keeping it around to contemplate later.

Poetry

Poetry is often thought of as a way to express emotions. But really, poetry can be about anything the poet wants to say. Here’s a sonnet I wrote about depression and healing:

The air is still and blankets all my sense.
I’m muffled, muzzled in the sheltering dark
But dare not pray for fire, with bright, intense,
loud flames that rend the silence with a spark.

I breathe, or not? It’s sometimes hard to tell
When swathed in clinging, stifling musty scent
That fills my nostrils and my brain as well
Which cannot will the veil be shredded, rent

to save from suffocation. How shall I
Withstand this cycle till the day appears
And breezes blow the dust away from my
Stopped ears and eyes and lungs, plugged full with fears?

Pull off the cover and let free the soul.
Take broken breath and heal it into whole.

Poetry doesn’t require that much form and structure to be effective or therapeutic. Free verse, or unrhymed, unmetered poetry, is often the place people start. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. You have to dig deep to get at what you want to say and how you want to say it, if you’re writing for anyone other than yourself.

Publishing

Speaking of writing for someone other than yourself, there are always fiction and nonfiction (in addition to blogging). If your stories or articles or poems or books are good enough, they could even be published.

You can write either fiction or nonfiction for publication. It’s rare to see fiction on mental health topics, but Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical The Bell Jar and Abigail Padgett’s Bo Bradley mystery series are places to look for inspiration.

Short nonfiction is easier to place, with TheMighty.com being a great site to submit factual personal accounts of invisible illnesses, including mental disorders. You can also share on Medium, where you can tag posts with appropriate descriptors like Mental Health or Psychology.

Getting paid for your published writing is another matter entirely, but it can be done. Writing for publication, however, is fraught with potential pitfalls. It is easy enough to trigger anxiety or imposter syndrome regarding submitting, not to mention waiting for a reply. And the inevitable rejections (everyone gets some) may play hell with your self-esteem.

My advice? Write. And keep writing. Whether you decide to try for publication or write strictly for yourself, it will be a good thing. Why miss another chance to explore your feelings, express your thoughts, and possibly share with others?

 

Don’t Let Depression Fool You The Way It Does Your Doctors

I am starting to think I did myself a disservice at my Friday shrink appointment. While I am not flailing in depression, I still feel that undertow and familiar tug several times a week. I thought full disclosure and honesty with the doctor would get me somewhere. I thought by saying, “I’m bathing two or three times a week now instead of just once” she might say, great, let’s increase the Cymbalta. Because while bathing two or three times a week is an improvement…come on. Everyone tells me to get off my ass, get back to working, but on what planet is an employer going to think bathing twice a week is ‘doing well’?

Once again, I fooled myself with a good day, and the doctor was fooled as well, and I think it screwed me.

This is the same doctor who told me if the Effexor hadn’t made a dent in 5 weeks, it wasn’t going to do anything. This time, she said it takes up to 8 weeks for the full benefit of the Cymbalta so no changes. I mean, seriously, do these people know how their wishy washiness messes with my mind? I should think if someone is finally having a good response and showing improvement after SIX months of depression and non-working meds, you’d want to tweak it even the tinest bit.

I get where Dr. H was coming from. My medication sensitivitys are epic and even the ones that are supposed to calm anxiety end up raising mine. And I did have some manic issues at high doses in the past, but always when on dual antidepressant therapy, never on singular. I just can’t help but feel that my ‘bathing two days a week’ improvement fooled her more than it did me.

I know I am not out of the woods yet. Maybe it makes me in a hurry to increase the meds rapidly to my own detriment. But these doctors aren’t the ones whose lives have been on hold for six months. They haven’t watched their identity be consumed and crumble and disappear and feel like death is the only viable option. So while they are covering their asses with caution, I am faltering with medication half life. By the end of the day, that 40 mg is halved and my mood goes down. Which is about the time my kid has company and I desperately NEED my mental state to be up in order to handle the stress of bickering, demanding children.

I tried to emphasize this to the doctor, but as usual, they don’t hear me. Just like when saying I can’t keep up with housework, the lithium needs to go because it makes me sicker than a dog 80% of the time, and hey, BATHING TWICE A WEEK ISN’T REALLY THAT MUCH OF AN IMPROVEMENT, IT’S CALLED BASIC HYGIENE EVEN A CHIMP COULD DO.

I know I should take ‘the win’, that I am finally emerging from the depressive abyss, and hey, your doctor cares enough to not want to any harm (and after the gabapentin and effexor debacle, no wonder!) but now that I am on hold for at least six weeks and have no clue what quack I will be assigned to next…it just creates more anxiety and taints my mood. If she had LISTENED and even raised the dose ten mg, I might not feel like the depression pulled the wool over both our eyes.

The one thing we sufferers know, that the doctors SHOULD know, is that depression LIES. It lies when it convinces you everything is bad and there is no hope. It lies when you think it is lightening up and then it ninja attacks you with nunchucks of doom. And it blatantly lies when a medication finally starts to work and you start feeling better so the doctor thinks, whoa, let’s leave it at this.

And then those nunchuks turn into throwing stars and right back down the rabbit hole you go, chased by depressive ninjas. (Yeah, I am on a ninja kick, sue me.)

So while yesterday I DID venture 20 miles outside my comfort zone to keep my word and go visit my grandparents’ graves and this is a definite sign of things looking up…I am not fooled into thinking this is as good as it gets. If I could ever get a doctor that would stay in that place more than a couple of months and take the time to get to know me, they’d know my default during spring and summer is incessant bathing, just to keep cool and ward off nervous sweat. Sometimes multiple times a day.

So a doctor who thinks two or three times a week bathing is a banner waving thing…

I think depression pulled a circus tent sized pile of wool over someone’s eyes and it’s not mine.

Delusion or Truth.

Delusion 1: UFOs.

 

They are smudges against the grey sky, almost hidden; almost unseen. But I see them, on the greyest of days. Just above me, from the corner of my eye driving to work, 8am. And maybe later, if the weather’s unchanged, driving home again when the sky is flat and leaden, devoid of markings and boundaries.

Of course they don’t care if we see them – if we think we see them – there’s reasonable doubt. It takes someone with my illness to catch sight of the things as we drive- or walk along. They have no shape as such. From what I comprehend; as I said, they’re just smudges against the uniform flat grey sky. They come and go, just for seconds.

They’re not from out there; we’ve made a mistake in believing this fairytale. They’re from here. Sometimes in our world but not of our world. They could be from under the sea though that’s unlikely. They’ve never spoken to me.

They’re from here – another universe? They dip into our time and space, who knows what for. Do they even see us – do they even know we’re here? Or are we blips, smudges, against a flat grey or cloudless sky?

It takes someone with an illness like mine to see them, for fleeting seconds and for fleeting spaces. But to date there’s been only one. Come and go, say hello.

 

tall sky

Life Is Good

Hike June 2018

Above is a picture from a hike yesterday that I took with my two 13 year old nieces, it was so beautiful!!  These two nieces are my goddaughters and I treasure my time with them.  They are so special and thoughtful, and growing up so fast!  After the hike I took them out to lunch, then thrift shopping (they had never gone to a thrift store), then to the nail shop where one niece got a manicure and one got a pedicure.  I love to spoil them!

This week I got some great news – my job is not ending on June 29, they invited me to stay through the end of the year!!  This is some welcome security and stability that I really needed.  Although it’s Desktop Support and not Security which I would prefer, I am tolerating it well and finding some stimulation in the job.  After that long stretch of unemployment and financial insecurity, what I feel like I really need now is some security in life.

So now I am getting ready to MOVE OUT OF THIS SHITHOLE APARTMENT!!  I don’t know where I’m going which is a bit stressful because I gave my notice that I’d be out by the end of June, and I haven’t started packing either!!!  But I am looking at some places Monday after work.  I’m finding that some of the really nice places do not accept birds (How DARE they?!) so that’s freaking me out but I will just continue the search.  Yesterday I got very stressed out and took some Xanax.  It was either that or binge out on sugar.

So, I’m going to keep this short because I want to get a little packing in before I go to Mom and Dad’s.  Mom had surgery on her hand this week and can’t drive so I offered to take them to church.  Damn it why do I do these things?!  I guess I have to go to church.  Should be torture.

My mood is holding up well except when I get stressed out, then everything goes to shit.  So I need to manage my stress.  I am going to commit to doing a little bit of packing every day after work.  I just HAVE to, so I don’t get too stressed out on the weekends.  I don’t want to backpedal on my weight loss and start bingeing (how do you spell that?) on sugar.  So a little discipline is in order.  NOT my strongsuit.

Hope everyone out there in Blogland is good.  WELCOME to my new followers and THANK YOU to my current followers for reading!!  Love to all of you and Peach the Fuck Out!!  🙂

Gun Violence: The New Mental Illness 🤔

I recently got back into magazine and I got a subscription to People.

Every week in people there is a real story about a real tragedy that always involves Mental Illness.

Instead of talking about Mental Illness and signs to help loved ones (so you dont tragically end of like that) they talk about why you wear orange…for fun violence.

Gun violence? This man was going through severe depression and shoots himself and you blame the gun? You said before that your dad bought the gun he was okay. (or was he?) Something happened to make him not okay

It wasn’t the gun.

I think if we focus more on the root of the tree, we could get to why the branches we acting crazy..