How to Learn to Love to Write: A Mental Health Journey

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From a young age, you discover how much you love to read and write. You begin your love for literature with reading: graphic novels, chapter books, anything there is.

Eventually, you start thinking of your own ideas, your own writing style, and you put it to work. You fall in love with the idea that an empty piece of paper is like a blank canvas. You realize just how amazing it is that anything that comes to your mind can be written down on paper.

Reading and writing eventually become your escape from reality. You ignore all the chaotic things happening around you and zone out. It keeps you distracted from the fact that your parents are constantly fighting. It distracts you from how your dad screams and yells at you for mistakes he made. You continue to read and write, until school takes that love and crushes it into a million pieces.

You go from enjoying writing to dreading the idea of ever scribbling words on a piece of paper ever again. Schools force you to read and write for a grade. You think to yourself that this isn’t fun anymore. You become depressed and frustrated; you begin to wonder why you ever enjoyed reading or writing in the first place. You know that it was fun as a kid, but that’s all you believe it to be at this point: a childhood hobby. It’s a rough couple of years from there. You soon get piles and piles of homework. The idea of coming home at the end of the day isn’t something to look forward to, it’s now one of the worst parts of the day. What was once your escape has now become your prison.

You come home and not only have to deal with your dad yelling at you all the time, but also, mountains of homework. You start wondering if this is what life is all about. Wake up, school, homework, sleep, repeat. Your days start to blend together, and you start to forget what you’re doing here in the first place.

Every time you present your projects, all the class does is stare and judge. They laugh at you. They make fun of you. They think you’re a complete idiot. Everything you do is wrong. You try your hardest, but it’s never enough. You try to be perfect, but it’s never perfect enough. The worst part about it is that no one even realizes the struggles you go through. The feelings of loneliness and anger you experience on a daily basis.

You’re scared. You hear voices telling you that everything you do is wrong. That your life isn’t worth living. Eventually, tired of being ignored, you tell your parents how you feel. They start you in therapy, but it doesn’t make much of a difference.

You find yourself unable to find any reasoning as to why you’re necessary to the world. You start believing the voices and get sent into an unlivable mental state. You start taking antidepressants, but all they do is make you utterly numb. You can’t cry, you can’t sleep, you can’t feel. You’re exhausted, both mentally and physically. You don’t have the energy to wake up and get ready for the day. You feel empty. There’s nothing you can do to save yourself from yourself. Eventually, it gets so bad that you need to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

You’re there for more than a month, but it doesn’t help. You pick up other unhealthy habits while you’re there. It starts off as something you do once in a while, but it soon becomes an addiction. You’re eventually discharged and have no idea what to do. Your parents send you to a therapy group program where once again you feel alone and judged. You thought that this would finally be a place where people could relate to you and your struggles, but no. They think you’re weird. They think you’re different. Everyone told you that “you weren’t alone,” but it truly feels like no one knows how you feel or what you’re going through. Your future is a blur, and you have no plans for what to do.

The following school year, however, changes everything. You switch schools. You have no hobbies, but you need to sign up for an elective. There’s a Creative Writing course. You think about it, then decide you want to try writing again. You sign up for the elective with no thoughts of commitment, thinking to yourself that you can always switch out. However, after attending, you remember why you had such a big place in your heart for reading and writing. Your class isn’t judgmental or rude. They welcome you with open arms and encourage you. They remind you of your love, your appreciation for writing. Slowly, you start to enjoy it again.

As you continue the class, your love for writing grows and grows. You find a big box of books in the garage. They were your favorite as a kid. So, you try to take up reading again. You then start to remember why you loved it so much. You remember the addiction, the captivity. The way you won’t want to pause your book to use the bathroom or to eat. You remember how it makes you feel. It helps you understand and appreciate how much reading and writing mean to you. Eventually, you grow your book collection and writing portfolio. You think about pursuing writing as a career, but turn the idea down. You remind yourself of how school destroyed your love and creativity. You know that if you decide to pursue writing career-wise, it’ll destroy your love for it just like school did. You decide to continue with your original career plan to be a therapist. To be the someone that you needed that summer.

Even though finding free time is difficult, you do it anyway. Reading and writing once again become your escape. A coping mechanism. Your relationship with your dad becomes worse but you push through. You’re used to it at this point.

Although your schoolwork is pretty light, mental health issues don’t just disappear. You continue struggling. You try your hardest, but for some reason, mental health issues always get in the way of your happiness. While being back at the psych ward, you bring a couple of books with you. It’s the only thing that will keep you company. You again remember your love. You notice that you’re in an on/off relationship with reading and writing. You try to read as much as you can before being discharged.

You get discharged and immediately know it was wrong. You weren’t ready to go back home. You knew that you were the one begging to go home, but you didn’t expect them to listen. They listened. You know that you’re not ready, but they believed your lies. You don’t feel safe at home or the hospital. You just want to be alone.

Your life becomes much messier after that. You go through a friendship breakup that takes a huge toll on you. You just can’t get back to where you were. The battle of just trying to stay out of the hospital continues. The school year ends, and the summer comes and goes. It’s already September again.

After months and months of working on your mental health, coming back to school doesn’t seem so hard anymore. You sign up for Advanced Creative Writing and it once again reminds you of your love. It becomes the thing you look forward to in school; so much so that you choose to stay in that creative writing class throughout the remainder of high school.

Your future will most likely be difficult, but hopefully worth it. Maybe you’ll become so busy with college and work that you forget to think about yourself. Maybe you’ll become a workaholic and yet again forget your love for reading and writing. However, after finishing school, you might get a chance to breathe. Maybe one day as you’re moving out, you’ll find yourself looking through your old writing and finding your old books again. You’ll remember writing these stories and taking these notes. You’ll remember the thrill of escaping into other realities. And the relaxing and soothing feeling of just sitting in bed and reading or writing to your heart’s content for however long you please.

Maybe as your life goes on, you’ll find yourself working the job of your dreams while on the side, you’re publishing your first book. Something you know is that life won’t move on as a “happy ever after.” Life is complicated and things get hard; the difference is that now, you know how to cope with those situations. You can use reading and writing as a way to cope. It helps you get through the hard stuff. And you use that to your advantage.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Please send me.The public forum information web details. That I may access, to begin speaking with others in the psychiatric care treatments broader dialogue for the online group platform. And do they have a list of these that are trustworthy and reliable for victims of cyber attack and bullying like me? I have tried to tell others to write about it yet many won’t listen ! For the fear of being taken away from. Or misrepresented and targeted for harsh criticisms! That privacy is not being considered and always being harassed criminally!

    I just want to speak to others similar to me or that are more like me going through recovering from criminal systemic harassment and who need help . From them.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this article because for me, composing music has the same therapeutic effects.
    One problem though is that I wrote a string quartet based on all the emotions I felt witnessing a loved one go through the American psychiatric system. And I have recently done some of the final editing and it’s painful to revisit those scenes even though it took place 6 years ago. Who is this music meant for I wonder? It was good to get it out of my system but if there will ever be a chance for anyone to perform the music, it is intensely personal for me so I have been in a quandry whether or not to share it. This begs the question, “do I create for myself only?”

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  3. Elle, you should be proud of yourself for doing the hard work necessary for healing. I also write to process feelings, and I read to learn, escape, or relax. You’re smart to use these tools. God bless you in your journey toward healing.

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  4. What do I do, if I got plagiarized and marketed for my intellectual property that was stolen in school by illegal markets and recruiters thy wer pawing off the work as their own they borrowed from me ! Then processed and produced as their own ? Any ideas of intellectual property theft of written and graphic intel materials that
    Are in the sole ownership proprietorship
    Materials that are not for sale by owner of possession of
    These materials from their creative director of art production that is the sole property owner of such intellectual property. That is sampled and sold for profit without their permission consent or knowledge. For a legal department specializing firm that coalesce with plagiarism laws . I figure if it helps them with literacy it won’t hurt and isn’t smut Pornography! Since it’s difficult or work with pornographers posing as professionals that lack literacy and are very ego staunch ! And whatever money they don arm form this is just going to buy them their jail time anyway. Since prisoners don’t really have any access to any type of an education to help them worthy of making out on conditional release orders. And since court orders are never enforced that leave the allowance for people to screw up ! Though they don’t seem to want to pay us anything for the work to compensate us with . For producing it ourself when they just take it like it’s
    Their own property to mass market under their own title ! That blows the cover lid off the social economy and makes every one subject to their poverty level underprivileged strategy to tech ignorance on a large scale out to their culturally advantaged families. That is a huge pinnacle
    Failure too obvious to go. Unnoticed! Agree and comment. I would like to consult with whom want to help students to Construct a strategic plan of attack against anyone choosing to mass market
    out our property without fear of being made
    To face jail Time spent incarcerated without trial and emptied out of privileges they will need to understand that the punishment is for helping themselves to charity by taking into possession for the resale value they make profits from is an illegal action that causes sickness and premature patient deaths and is a
    Corinne
    Of financial abuse in the domestic abuse
    Section of
    The law book of code o the mental act ! That will help
    Them
    To live from charities effectively so that no one has to steal
    To be charitable
    Any more. And people won’t have to die for merely surviving by having no other choice but to take in order to survive as they can’t afford a bank account or their own ids any more.

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  5. Thank you for your post. Your love of reading/writing resonates with my own journey. I used to get the word weird too, now I don’t even get that. Now I just get weird looks from others – and they change the subject. I’ve been called an “over thinker” which seems to scare folks.

    For now – I am trying to lean into my life, into my understanding of God & toward People. I am learning to try to Come from the Heart, instead of my Head.

    I go to me to feel loved and whole. To be full of love for myself and Not Need ( I may always want but not need) anything from anyone else with God’s Help of course.

    This is very recently working for me. The Best of luck to you on your Journey.

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    • That is good news for sure. To come through by the channel of your hearts peace is a righteous path to choose!

      I often have therapists say they are too bogged down with real world things because my health care requirements are rare there isn’t a cure for a broken heart. But I have no clinical depression that’s my saving grace it’s a real
      Miracle
      In my life and usually I’m shot down for being a speech impediment stammered speech talker they say is scattered thought process. That is related to my anxiety. I just don’t take anyone fake and in denial themselves serious and laugh out loud at them because it’s funny to me to keep a straight face ! I think of as the laughter of angels chattering laughter at the slight of mortals feeling tired and challenged from over processing everything to the point. They are spent. That’s not a laughing matter but it’s a failure to me to figure how come they just continue to bust a move when professionals are trained to relieve themselves of duty if they re experiencing symptoms from continuous work or it can prove to be fatal. I like to make art and I just want to meet others to make it together for fun to help make
      Mental health the most important thing on their checklist so they understand risk and risk management by conglomerating to do this together but I’m experiencing a stigmatization barrier at present! So I wanted to say thank you for letting me to air here. About what real threats are as opposed to fake ones that are not real to help people understand exactly what you are talking about Elle! Self worth and being your first go to person ! That is your best friend and mending up within. To make up with you is you are now someone else’s tool to misappropriate and deprioritized because of unhealthily experiencing being tricked out by their scams and what they don’t believe is unhealthy you know is financial abuse that is realized before the threat occurs at first glance by whom we need to protect ourselves from ! I know it’s something outside of a person that is their own force of truth and light that resonates with this from within them that’s embedded with gross neglect and totally unprotected from being used they could lash out at anyone. I had no idea how toxic personalities could be before I found out there are a larger percentage of them in gathering than in the way they are portrayed as being. I’m a happy balance and don’t crave or loathe being near healthy happy people that have boundaries to protect and who value themselves. To reenforce themselves by being honest with themselves and search others for symptoms of cross transferring disease and dysfunctional emotional development concerns by dumping stress. I don’t want to speak to such characters now. It’s awful to see sick people brood and dump stress to pull authority then shift blame like that’s a bait and switch off relationship interpersonal death trap! To dominate others with and keep to use them with that is usury. Not friendship and meaningful. To decay with self image issues to make try to own up to being perfect enough for . You are one hundred thousand percent correct ! Meditation and self reflection are the best methods of deterring and improving your mental health safeguarding by knowing yourself best as only you know how since you live with whom you are and that’s the best reenforcement for trust to embark upon crating the building relationship blocks to success away from the negative thoughts that have no weight are dead weight to help you ruminate and fantasize about failure not impress yourself upon successes that are for all. Who are not color blinded by what lacks compassion posing as tolerance faking itself as real
      Respect ! It’s very tricky and so difficult to be learned enough to draw the boundary lines down to make sure won’t be crossed. I am turned off by persons showing off that they haven’t any boundaries because theirs shows me they are filled with bundles opportunities to make them up as the go. That are against persons of true faith . In a real struggle with god just afraid to admits it. I am sure it’s because the inner connectivity tissue to self are totalled by life’s circumstances that are like a matrix for this ! I don’t want to climb through and I’ve got seriously harmed by just being in the presence of I know is from something they are hiding from like the inner conflicted them that’s too hard to collectively get through to . And is cloaked with shame and guilt misfortunes and fake pride. I can’t go through my life without being emotive when they say it’s tangential thinking because they are booked and can’t comprehend because they are restricted by time constraints. That crawl back to being traumatized. It’s strange and you are right weird is what I can relate to but in my case I sound it off as totally being totally awkward straight off the bat with a sixth sense due to my vision impairment. Desensitization is horrible to have to undergo and dehumanizations to being along with that. It’s a conscious hinderance to thinking thought processors. God is the force most ptsd regular and dsm axis patients can gain a lot from to help heal through from the damage on their journey but it’s said that even if they haven’t any faith base or community faith base it’s possible to heal too even though it could be technically slightly more challenging without any support from a higher power or a
      Supernatural entity of force to centre and ground to find any self
      Acceptance through. Especially with healing because science and gravity alone are not enough on their own for sentient beings that really boils down to your self awareness and self acceptance that many people have got taught to do away with to be a tool of his and every from anything that helps direct and inspire the self to be balanced and centred and healthy. That’s very abusive to tear down in a person that has it built in but doesn’t mean they can’t grasp betterment without faith and help from a spiritual force that they are able to insight and turn to no strings attached no matter
      What they do or who they allowed to bully them ! To feel empty since many people are persecuted for holding and knowing their faith and being healthy not simply religious and them naughty and beefed of the presence of their deity to shame themselves through and fake powers with ! Aimlessly that is hurtful and insensitive to gentle natures people who don’t rely upon fake sources of confidence like running mutiny against the self and self harm
      Practicing on a regular basis they won’t even tell about. It’s wrong and indecent. I have already wrote about the vulgarity of such practices especially against women who are targeted blindly and at random like sorting through a pile to pick one to use and discard after each go that is a lot of hurt and embarrassment to note an entire society entitle domestic abuse neglect and domestic
      Violence
      to do so normalizing instead of speaking and teaching that is learned not inborn and must be reported in every circumstance that in this way to regard it as being okay to do is to encourage and vouch for such nihilist practices. To make understand is illiterate and illegal in every circumstance’s set. That abuse just doesn’t discriminate and choose one group out of many to induce into a conflict and struggle state of malevolence and travesty. But seem to affect all is what I think can help people appreciate they are not being singled out to attack to help learn the symptoms and what can be achieved to help them with to overcome and prevent themselves
      Worse traumatic stress and panic attack that if ignored can result in fatalities ! So no one has to feel like they are the only ones experiencing problems due to their demographics alone being the reason of which ! Abuse is abuse and the cover up is abuse too no matter how you slice it ❕I just love the inspirational people here ! It’s totally fantastic to see so much positive reinforcement. Replace lies and word crafted fiction wrote by the unskilled and indie writers that don’t show their references and just take. I am interested in writers banding together to take them to trial for writing rubbish and selling it without permission to have published it’s very dangerous to do that and comes at such a grave cost ! Your honesty is wonderful. I make editing mistakes all the time because I paint and can’t see well ! Then auto fill is in a mind of its own sometimes but this is beautiful.

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