This coming week (14th – 20th May) is mental health awareness week in the UK and, given that my own mental health is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the years, I thought I’d write something for it. Probably like many other people who have a creative outlet, whether that’s writing, drawing, creating music, acting, dancing, or something else entirely, my mental health and my writing are quite heavily linked.
I’ve known this for a while, one of the first signs that my mental health is slipping is that I lose all motivation to write. Usually I try to counteract this by writing a few ‘fall back’ posts when my mental health is pretty good that I can post on those weeks I just can’t bring myself to write anything at all. However, the other week it truly hit me how dependent my writing is on my mental state.
I’ve been writing a series of prompts as a personal challenge to myself, and one of those is entitled “Screw you.” It’s a piece that I had a vision for, I knew how I wanted it to flow, I knew what direction I wanted it to go in. I had it all mapped out inside my head. When I actually sat down to write it though I hit a brick wall.
See the prompt was an angry one, or at least I always envisioned it starting angry at least. But when I got around to writing it I just couldn’t conjure up the anger that the post needed. It just wasn’t there. I had spent the whole weekend at a convention where I’d been surrounded by so much love and positivity that I couldn’t find that anger I’d been holding on to.
My writing is very definitely a window into my current mental state, it’s a fact I’m well aware of. The simple reason for that is that I tend to pour my everything into my writing. It’s my outlet, my escape, it’s the one place where I actually let my emotions take control of the direction.
There’s one piece of my writing that stands out as a place where this is extremely evident, and that’s in my original ‘Dear Dad’ letter. It’s possibly my rawest, most emotional, most honest piece of writing. I also don’t know exactly what it said.
I wrote it almost a year ago, when I was quite drunk, so I only have a vague impression of what it says. I haven’t read it back yet simply because I’m scared. I’m not sure if I’m in a place where I can handle dealing with all the emotions that it’ll bring back up.
I’m scared that I’ve spent so long trying to claw my way out of the darkness I was in that going back there will plunge me straight back under. I want to read it again, I want to deal with it. But I might wait until I have a therapist to help me through it before I poke that wasps nest.
I’m far more open in my writing than I am in real life, I talk about things that I’d almost never say face to face (unless I’m really drunk, or I really really really trust you). I allow myself to be vulnerable, to lay myself bare.
There’s a safety in the anonymity of my writing. I’m sure if I had a therapist they’d say something about it being because of the barrier between myself and whoever’s reading it. I think it also helps that I don’t usually know who’s read the things I’ve written, not unless they like it or tell me themselves. It means I don’t have to worry about people judging me for the things I say.
Writing is my craft, my heart, my soul. It’s my freedom and it’s my art. Like any other artist will probably appreciate, this post did not go in the direction I intended it to go when I sat down to write. But sometimes I think that’s the joy in writing.
When you put your heart into something you don’t always get what you expect, but I find that often you get what you needed.