Writing is something that many of us have either done or dreamed of doing. We’ve all tried writing stories, poetry and essays for school, and some people enjoy writing in their own diaries or enjoy writing blog posts whenever they feel like it, but how many of us have have benefitted from writing mentally, and if it’s good for our well being, should we be doing more of it?
The first enjoyment
I have always enjoyed writing stories, ever since I was able to write I remember picking up a pen and writing some new adventures for Winnie the Pooh and friends, while illustrating them at the same time. This soon morphed into stories of my Sylvanian Families characters (I collected quite a few over the years) and other toys joined the mix soon after. As I got older and progressed through primary school I took to writing short stories like wasps take to sugar! I enjoyed writing at home a lot and took evey opportunity to write stories and have fun creating adventures for characters while I was at school. Story writing was fun and even my primary school teachers commended me on them – one haunted house story we had to write for class was claimed as one of the three best of my class and I got to read it out in front of assembly the following day! 😮 😀
At the start of secondary school we were introduced to poetry and were told to write about fireworks night in poetry form. I remember doing this so easily, the words just came to me so quickly and I loved rhyming words like flight and night, sparks and marks, wheel and feel, etc. Writing poetry came so easily to me and stories kept coming to my head. They were definitely of the weirder kind, silly adventures in haunted houses, weird worlds below the bed or at the end of the garden (that last one because of a strange dream I had and the weird alcove of extra garden we had at the back of my old house). But I enjoyed writing and that’s what mattered, I loved doing it and it made me happy.
Losing the love
Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the (secondary) school system began to affect me negatively. First the bullying I got from other pupils became worse and worse. I had suffered a bit of bullying at primary school but it was only at lunch hour and I could usually avoid it. But this got worse when I entered secondary school (at age 11/12) and began to experience a new class of bullies. I was constantly in earshot of nasty off-hand comments about the way I looked or the way I dressed. I was called fat, ugly, and every time I had a diabetic hypo which needed to be fixed by eating something, I was laughed at for stuffing my face (which was hurtful as I was already very overweight). They continued to taunt me, call me names, pull my hair and destroy my things.
At the same time I was facing a kind of bullying behaviour from my teachers. I didn’t understand why it was happening at the begining but I was being discriminated by them for having eastern european blood – it didn’t matter that I was born in the UK, I was the only one of my kind in my year group and the teachers treated my mum and me differetly all the time. They contantly complained about my work, told me I wasn’t good at anything and refused to give me any support when I suffered from different health problems. The teachers made it clear that I wasn’t good enough for their school, even though my grades were quite high (on average a B) and higher than many others at my school. In the end they had made me feel so dis-heartened in myself, my abilities and my life that I just stopped caring…about everything.
School had beaten me and when I left at age 16 I had no creativity left. My mind couldn’t create a story, my poetry, which before had flowed so easily, was something I never wanted to even try writing again. I was done, I wasn’t good at it, I wouldn’t do it again.
Re-awakening the joy
I spent most of my twenties lost, creatively speaking. I enjoyed making silly videos at home of my cat and other things, but I never wanted to write again. I stuck to non-fiction instead, writing the occassional review online, a mini-script for my home video and in general doing activities that wouldn’t require me to use my creative writing mind. It wasn’t until I began blogging and meeting other people online, about 3-4 years ago, that I started to feel confident to try writing again.
I started by writing a simple poem for a prompt word. Simple is probably the wrong world, at first I was terrified. This weird, depressive set of words that rhymed came out and I felt so stupid for writing it. I didn’t think I was any good at it and went back and forth in my head on whether I should post it online, but eventually I took the plunge and uploaded it onto my blog at the time, and waited…
The response was amazing! People I’d never heard of liked my poem. Some people even commented on how good it was. I thought the words were rubbish (although I didn’t say so out loud) but these people told me they enjoyed my work and I should write more. So I did, I kept writing poems and they kept flowing from my mind. Whereas stories took time to form in my head and I was still having a bit of a mental barrier to trying to write them (scared they weren’t any good), poetry was just streaming from my brain. I took emotions I was feeling and wrote down the raw words that came to my mind. Then I found myself rhyming other words to these, creating even darker lines of poetry. Before I knew it I had other poems, most of them all dark and depressive, but as I wrote more and more of these emotional poems, something inside me started to change.
A cathartic experience
Writing all the bad and horrible emotions I was feeling made these very emotions leave my body. It may sound odd, but every time I wrote poetry, and still write today, it’s as if all the horrbile emotions I’m feeling at the time literally transfer to the words I write (or type). The words flow out of me, down my arms and into the poem, and I’m left feeling lighter and happier in my mind. Writing poetry is like therapy for me and it’s such an odd and amazing experience at the same time.
Often when I feel down now, or see something in the news that makes me sad or angry, I take to writing about it in a poem. I like to write simple poems, nothing super complex of difficult to intepret, as I’m not trying to be super complex at the time. I’m literally writing what I feel at the time and what I feel is what ends up in the poem. The rhyming style I use just comes easily to me, and I’d like to think that my poems not only get out my emotions on the world and life, but also bring some kind of understanding for others reading them.
Never stop writing
The more poetry I’ve written the happier my poems are becoming and it’s a reflection on my entire wellbeing and mental health. When I was incredibly depressed, I couldn’t write anything happy, my mind was lost in a sea of horrible sad thoughts. But as that cloud has begun to lift my own writing has become happier, maybe even sillier and I’ve started to enjoy writing fun and happy poems to entertain others and hopefully put a smile on your face. I still write some darker poems, but these happen when I’m affected by specific events and aren’t the result of my daily thoughts anymore.
I’m still working up the same courage for writing fiction. It’s not been that easy for me to start writing stories again but the more children’s fiction I’ve read (especially middle grade adventures-the type of stories that do come into my head) the more confident I feel and the more I’m starting to try my hand at writing fiction again. But poetry is where I know I shine, a type of writing that I just love doing, has always just come easily to me, and something I hope you all love to read.
So, can writing improve your wellbeing? In my experience, it can, YES! If creating stories or writing emotions down is something that comes naturally to you (and you don’t have to write anything ‘good’, it just has to feel naturally fun to do) then it’s worth doing it and continuing once you’ve started. Even if you’ve never tried it, then I’d recommend just trying to write something down, how you feel, the raw emotions or thoughts you have in your mind. Don’t read it back to yourself, it doesn’t matter if it’s silly or nonsense. Writing stuff down can clear your mind and make you feel good about your life.
Doing creative things is always something everyone should do to improve their mental health. Creativity is an amaing outlet for all the horrible emotions and thoughts we may have going around our heads. We need to get those feelings, those thoughts out and writing (especially poetry) is just one of the many different activities I’d really recommend trying 🙂
Do you find writing helps your wellbeing? What other creative activities do you enjoy doing and do you think they help with mental health/wellbeing?