Try Writing: Expressive Writing Explanation
By Brittney D. Herz
Expressive writing, poetry therapy, journaling, expressive journaling, rage writing; I’ve heard it called a lot of different things and used in many ways but it all comes down to using writing as a coping mechanism.
It’s still considered by many to not be a sound form of therapy but for those of us who use it as a tool, we understand the power that writing can have on your mental health.
The problem is, it’s uncomfortable. If you’re doing expressive writing “right” (for lack of a better word), it’s not really pleasant at the time, sometimes. You have to take the things you don’t like about yourself, be it trauma or symptoms or negative feelings, and you have to dwell on them long enough to write out their definitions and viability into a concrete form of written language. That’s not easy and it’s not comfortable to do.
In black and white you have words just looking up at you saying things you don’t want to say with your mouth. Or maybe you have said them with your mouth once or twice but you regretted it. Now you need to let that guilt go. So why in God’s name is that helpful? Why do I need to see that? Because you can’t let it go if you don’t deal with it.
Sometimes talking isn’t enough. Sometimes talking won’t work because you censor yourself around others. Sometimes the only way to be extremely honest and patient with what your racing head needs to get rid of it is to sit down with a pen and let it out on paper.
Then what? Well, that’s up to you. Some people keep all their notebooks of thoughts and memories. Some like to look back on how far they’ve come. Others never want to see those words again so they burn them and flush them down the toilet. I’m a mix of the two so I can’t say which is best.
If you have an emotional disturbance of any kind, try writing about it. Focus on one aspect that is affecting your daily life. Are you overly angered by small things? Focus on that anger. What does it feel like? Write about what it physically feels like. What would it look like if it were a creature; if it were tangible? Name it. Then kill it, maybe more than once. Are you overly sensitive to others’ actions and things out of your control? Write about it. Make a list of all the things that made you anxious or depressed that were completely out of your control. Read it over and see in black and white the common denominators.
Basically, if you are struggling (and who isn’t) and you haven’t tried writing about it, just give it a try.
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.