How Writing for Therapy Helps Me Heal
I have scizoafffective disorder, and I write for therapy. I do have a therapist, but a therapist can only help up to a point. She can't get into your mind. Most of the work you have to do yourself.
Writing is a way of picking apart my thoughts, organizing them, and figuring out what is going on in my mind.
I have also found writing is a way to heal. To take the scattered pieces, analyze them, and bring them together in a coherent fashion.
I keep a pen and notebook with me at all times. Even when I sleep, so I can analyze my dreams in the morning. If I can't write, I tend to pace, especially if I'm manic. I brainstorm my problems, take notes on writing ideas, outline articles, take notes on things I've learned throughout the day. I love both the keyboard and the pen. Both have their advantages. It's easier to outline or take notes with a pen, and easier to quickly express my thoughts with the keyboard.
For some people, music or art is therapy. For me, it's writing. Those other things help, but not as much. It helps to be DOING something. And that something, to me, needs to be productive. Writing is productive as it has the potential to reach other people.
But the most important aspect of writing for therapy is that I simply don't know what's going on inside me until I am able to sort through my thoughts and write them out—they just come out as I write.
Writing as a Way to Organize Thoughts
Writing, I've found, is the best way to organize my thoughts and my mind. My thoughts are often scattered due to my disorder. I have thousands of ideas floating around in my head. This causes anxiety until I can get these thoughts down on paper and organized.
If there is a personal issue, I can brainstorm ideas to solve the problem. If there is something I am interested in, I can write down questions for later research. I write down organized and prioritized things to do. If it is an unexpressed thought, I can go to the keyboard and do some free-thought writing, which is faster than the pen. If it's an article idea, I can outline the article.
I have stacks of notebooks organizing my thoughts. I have different notebooks for different topics. Some are filled with my notes on esoteric topics. Some are on article ideas. Some are on dreams, and some are personal diaries. I keep one unorganized notebook that I carry with me, to write things down at the spur of the moment, which I come back to later to organize. I am never without this notebook.
Does all this help? I believe it does. There were times when I wasn't organized, and life was chaos—I would hold everything in my mind. Now things have a chance to come up to my consciousness, where I can deal with them in a meaningful way.
Writing as a Way to Heal
Writing is not a replacement for therapy or medication, but it does help in healing.
As I write, I bring up things from my subconscious to the conscious mind. Out where they can be dealt with in a productive manner.
Writing my thoughts stills the chaos in my mind. I have noticed this time and time again. It is probably because I know I am making an attempt to deal with my problems, and not just let them fester in my mind.
It is better than meditation or music for me. With meditation or music, thoughts are pushed away instead of dealt with. It's the dealing with the subconscious that is what counts.
I find it helps especially when I am manic—I feel the need to do, do, do. Writing keeps me busy in a productive manner. If I can't relax, I may as well be doing something worthwhile.
It helps with insomnia as well. It keeps the buzz of thoughts down to a minimum. If I know I've already dealt with what I can, it helps to get me to a place where I can sleep.
Writing can be a form of healing. I know this, as do many others. Writing for therapy is a great thing to try in addition to your regular therapy.
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