When I was 11, I wrote my first poem. It wasn’t very good; Roses are red, daisies are white, I like you, both day and night. It was simple, young, and entirely in reference to a crush. At the time, I just wanted tell someone, but there was no one I trusted. So, when I wrote those words down and felt relieved of my secret, I entered into what would become one of the healthiest relationships of my life.
Over the years, writing replaced the potential of a blade and the oblivion of a bottle. It protected my loved ones from the wounds of words best unspoken. It also stood strong when others could not, filtering through the confusing fog of anxiety and depression.
It was never a cure, but it became an analgesic. Whether it was the back of an old receipt or the smooth order of a lined 8.5 by 11 inch page, writing became my coping tool.
Turns out, my pen made for a great listener. And sometimes, that is all a person needs.
There is no single rule to writing through the anxious moments. You simply find your groove through a series of trials and errors. I write at different times of day, in different locations, and use different pens. What I am doing today may not work for me tomorrow. The only constancy to what I do is the writing itself.
Still, if you are looking to make a go of it, here are some approaches that have worked for me:
Stash the supplies! I have an impressive collection of notebooks and dollar-store pens. They are found in my pocket/bag/purse, on my bedside table, and more than a few inside my car.
Consider how and when your anxiety, panic or depression affects you. Do you wake up with an anxious hangover from a long night of dreams? Does your mind ramble throughout the day? Or do you hold it all in until night falls and you are left alone to battle the backlash? Your answer will dictate when you write.
Whatever you do, just remember to write. When I start to feel the acidic rise of emotion in my stomach, or the pierce of fingernails through skin, I remove myself from the immediacy of the moment and write. I don’t worry about spelling. I use swear words and I ramble across that page until I feel the release. Only once the panic eases, when the desire to scream settles, only then do I settle my pen as well.
As Brenda Ueland, creativity coach and author of If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, once wrote, “be bold, be free and truthful." Don’t hold back. Just let your thoughts flow through your pen and see if this is therapy for you too.
Photo Credit: Jenn Fryer
Jenn ‘Niffer’ Fryer is a mother, a wife and a writer, enthusiastically scribing her way through life as it continues to entertain her pen. Currently in her second year at Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, Jennifer is actively putting her skills as a writer to positive and affecting use, both in her community and beyond.