Maybe they should start prescribing reading lists and creative writing classes on the NHS. In my case, the consumption (and creation) of words healed my mind more than the consumption of anti-depressants. I had been suicidal before I began writing. It gave me a focus for the mental energy that was consuming my mind like a forest fire.
I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of bibliotherapy (using books in therapy), but I have to say that the idea of prescribing reading lists and creative writing classes to help with depression, anxiety, or panic would be a much less expensive and more natural way to pursue healing. I fully believe, along with Matt Haig, that the “consumption (and creation) of words healed my mind more than the consumption of anti-depressants.” I’ve done therapy over and over and over. I can’t say I won’t ever go back to it–in fact, I’ve been thinking of doing just that.
But reading and writing helps me figure my stuff out in a different way. It gives me something to focus on. Writing gives me something that needs me to bring it into the world. It’s my idea that has been given to me, and it’s up to me to follow through. Otherwise, the idea will just go find someone else. (Go read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for more discussion on these ideas. Believe me, she can explain it much better than I can.)
Matt also says, “By giving something a narrative shape I was beginning to believe in the shape of my life again. In beginnings and middles and endings.” I never thought of that. That could be something to trust and hold on to in times when I don’t know how to make it from one day to the next.
Writing really has saved my life. It has given me the chance to “stay drunk” on writing (even though I don’t drink). As long as I have writing, reality can never truly destroy me.
I promised you poems every day.
How to Write Your Life
Throw away the concern for perfect grammar
Forget about what other people think of you
Remember, words may bring hurt
But they also bring healing.
Put one word on paper, then another one.
Write it, then crumple the paper, delete the file.
Write it all again. This time with blood, sweat, and tears.
Keep going. Writing will save your life.
It might even save someone else’s.