Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writing as a Form of Therapy


My friend Barbara, from 40 and Loving it, has honored me with a guest blog today. She courageously agreed to share a part of herself with my readers and talk about how she deals with difficult situations and addressed her grief with regards to her ailing mother. I am simply humbled by her honesty and bold statements. Thank you Barbara for writing from your heart. 

1. Does writing act as a companion that does not interrupt your flow of emotions?
I have always been a very sensitive and emotional person.  When I was growing up all my teachers said I was "a very sensitive child".  Now that I am older I find I am more sensitive now but I am better at understanding it.  When I was little my only way of letting my emotions escape was to cry.  I cried a lot!  However there were negatives to being so sensitive as a child and because I didn't have the resources to deal with my sensitivity I have today I had to deal with bed wetting, wetting my pants and panic attacks until I was in my teens.  It was humiliating and I told no one except my mom and dad. 
I started writing in about 11 years ago when my life had taken a very bad turn.  I had no outlets for all my anxiety and I became very depressed and it was suggested I go into the hospital. I refused because I had two young children at home and was still breastfeeding.  It was suggested to me to start  a journal.  It became an immediate release for me.  I wrote down everything I was feeling and thinking and held nothing back.  It got to the point where I had to write everyday or I would have panic that would lead to anxiety and then to depression.  So, to answer your question, writing does not interrupt my flow of emotions because it is my flow of emotions.  It is like asking an artist to explain a piece or art.  My writing is very simply,  me. 

2. Does writing provide you with a way to let yourself go and touch those deepest emotions and thoughts that you have?
I rarely hold back when I write and for that reason very few people I know in my non-blog world know about and read my blog.  I need a place where I can feel safe and face no judgement.  In my blog I do touch some of my deepest emotions though sometimes my emotions run so deep I have no words.  For instance I have severe panic attacks and can't find the right words to explain how horrible they are. 

3. Does it generally reduce your stress?
Yes!  I have to write.  I also must have quiet time to each day. Both are as important to me as food, air and water. 

4. James Pennebaker mentioned in his first study on expressive writing that even though the act of bringing painful experiences to the surface through writing might not seem beneficial in the short term there is a potential for tangible benefits in the long run or the wake of this pain. Do you agree?
Right now, I am writing about the process of my mother dying and at times it has been grueling.  Many times I have wondered why I am doing it and if it is worth it.  It brings out so much pain; pain that I would rather not deal with right now.  But because of my past experiences with writing I know that it will help me get through this.  I do believe there are tangible benefits to writing but honestly, I am not seeing them right now.  I do love the notes (comments) of love that are left after I write.  I really do feel each of my readers close to me as if they were sitting in the same room.  I feel your hugs and prayer and Reiki.

5. Do you feel that healing comes about when you make time for yourself to acknowledge and express the pain?
Yes.  Since my mom was diagnosed I have taken the time to deal with the fact she was going to die and not die as an old lady like I had hoped.  I have gone to Hospice for counselling and Reiki. I have read different books on death but not many spoke to me as speaking to actual people who have lost loved ones.  My Spirituality plays a big part and keeps me grounded too.  I know I will see my mom again and that makes it so much easier to say goodbye.  I know our separation is temporary.  I have also taken time to speak to my mom.  I have told her how much I love her and that she can go.  I have said goodbye.  I have also given her messages to pass on to my grandparents and cat when she sees them!


Elisabeth said...

There's a writer named Suzette Henke who talks about 'scriptotherapy' the notion that writing is therapeutic. It's funny, we all know this and yet there's a tendency to see writing that is used for therapeutic reasons as inferior somehow.

I suspect that all writing, like all creativity, has its therapeutic aspects, in the broadest sense of the word.

Thanks for this fascinating interview you two.

Birdie said...

Thank you.

paula devi said...

I read Barbara's blog faithfully so her struggles and pains are known to me. She is an extraordinary person and her writings are a gift. They help her to deal with her emotions and heart pain and they are a teaching as well for all of us who have befriended her through this blog medium.
I deeply honor your gift to feel so deeply and take us into your heart. It's a big heart.

Lana, you are a wonderful journalist. Your interview questions brought out the true spirit of what Barbara wanted to say and what we needed to read.

You have so many talents that you put to work for the benefit of others.