I love writing because it helps me work through my thoughts, gain understanding, and express myself more fluently than any other communicative or emotive medium. When I’m feeling depressed, I find clarity and write my way to find some glimmer of hope or positivity to cling to. When I’m angry or frustrated, expressing my angst blows off some of the excessive steam so I’m mollified a bit. When I’m lonely or feel a sense of loss, my words surround me with sense of connectedness, as if expressing myself makes me feel more human and incorporated into the world around me. When I feel misunderstood or confused, I can use written language to connect points logically or describe why or how I see something the way I do. When I’m sick or in pain, writing can busy my mind and distract me from the loudness of my discomfort. Most of the time, writing is a trusty “friend,” a tool I can turn to to ameliorate troubled feelings or thoughts, and an activity that carries me to a place of deeper appreciation or comprehension.
I enjoyed writing stories as a young girl, and always preferred essay assignments and assessments to traditional tests. As a shy student, I would rarely volunteer answers, even though I often knew them, and would flush beet red when I was called on. Though I was bright and could fully form a coherent response in my head, my words often spilled out as a jumbled mess when I reluctantly spoke. I started keeping a diary of sorts in first grade, and though the regularity with which I journaled my thoughts and experiences varied throughout the years, it has remained a constant practice since. When I wrote my memoir PR, the words fell out of my head and filled my computer screen with such voracity that even writing only part-time enabled me to finish the manuscript in about two months. The primary function of that book, and most all other non-graded work, was simply to share my memories and my reflections of them, not produce beautiful or profound writing itself. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be a talented writer to enjoy it as an activity or glean benefits from its use.
Today, I’m grasping onto writing’s utility in pulling my attention away from illness and pain. I would say it’s only weakly effective right now though. My stomach is too upset and my joints too agonizingly painful to maintain sufficient focus to convey lucid thoughts in a purposeful manner. I will instead rest and close my eyes, hoping the nausea subsides. Writing is my frequent go-to anxiolytic, when walking or movement is unwise or impossible. My daily practice over the past year has cultivated its serviceability in this regard, which has been especially important as I try not to excessively exercise and adhere to healthy limits on physical activity. However, it’s not a guaranteed effective or possible antidote to negative feelings. Some days, like today, even the rather low energy demand of this tool exceeds my tolerable threshold. And so, I’ll close my computer, lie back, and give in to my body’s demand for complete rest.