Writing has helped me so much on my mental health journey, and it’s why I continue to write on this blog today. I’m going to be breaking down a type of writing – free writing – and sharing how that helps my mental health.
First I want to share why writing helps so much anyway. For me, it started out of necessity. I was alone. Afraid. Before reaching out to get support I had nowhere to turn but the pen and paper in front of me.
Writing for me is about creating a safe space. The paper is just going to absorb my words, it’s not going to judge, it’s not going to respond. There’s a great comfort in knowing I can get those bottled up feelings out in a safe way.
I started by sharing my innermost thoughts and fiction writing characters which represented me. Since then I’ve started writing openly about mental health, which is why I started this blog at 16.
So what is free writing?
For me, free writing is writing down my thoughts as they come to me, in raw form. I stop worrying about spelling, grammar and constructing sentences, I just write down whatever comes into my head.
This lets me explore what I’m thinking in a deep way that I might not do otherwise. It helps me work out where I’m at right now and reflect on how things have been going.
It’s not a simple list such as 1. anxiety 2. depression etc. It’s a creative representation of how these feeling after me. I talk about it abstractly in my own unique way.
Simply, I write whatever comes into my head at the time. Instead of writing “anxiety”, I describe the place that the anxiety had taken me to.
How do you write like that?
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes I struggle to get into the right headspace for it. Sometimes I didn’t see the point, I thought that going back over it would make things worse, and I didn’t feel any benefit.
There is some truth in my thoughts there. Continuing to write about my mental health all of the time isn’t the answer for me. I have to have a boundary, time away from my mental health where I can get on with the present and focus on my recovered life in the now.
When I need to, when I’m feeling low, I find a calm space to write my thoughts down. It’s not something that’s scheduled or part of a routine. It’s a coping technique I can call upon as and when needed to get my thoughts out.
So, what does it do?
For me instead of those thoughts being trapped in my head, and getting bottled up they’re actually coming out onto the paper. It’s creating a personal space that’s just private to you and the paper you’re writing on. It’s a space for me to be myself, without fear of judgement of other people knowing what’s being shared. A space for me to do whatever I want.
I’m not going to tell you what to write or share my own free writing here. It’s personal writing that’s only shared with you. They’re your thoughts to get out. It may feel a little uneasy to start with when you stare at the blank page in front of you. You might not know what to say.
Don’t overthink it. Write whatever comes into your head first. Be fluid and free with your writing and share what you really want to get across.
This may not work for everyone. And that’s okay. Having all your thoughts on pen and paper may become triggering, it may bring up some emotions you’re not ready or in a place to deal with yet. And that’s okay. As always with my advice I’m just here to share what works for me, everyone’s different and it may not always work for you.