Writing and Mental Health

A couple of days ago, I asked people on my Facebook Page and Twitter timeline if there was anything, in particular, they’d like to see me blog about. One person said ‘writing and mental health’ and I thought, aha!

In the past, I’ve talked extensively about writing and about mental health, but I hadn’t as yet brought the two topics together. So, here we are.

Let’s start with the key facts, shall we? Writing can be tricky and mental health even more so. Put them both together and, well, things ain’t so simple.

Sometimes when I’m having a bad mental health day, I write a ton, and sometimes bad mental health means I can’t write at all. I find writing definitely helps my mental health, but if I find myself unable to do that thing that helps, what then?

Being completely real: if your mental health is super bad, picking up a pen isn’t going to cut it, you’re going to need help from outside yourself. On that note, I have a post about getting help and what that actually means linked here, and I have a post about counselling here.

But let’s assume, for the sake of this particular post, that your mental health is not so great but not exactly critical. If you’re already a writer, you may find accessing your creativity to be a bit of a struggle. In which case, I suggest switching things up. Usually write fiction? Try an angsty blog post, or a terrible poem. (I’m a big, big fan of both.) Usually a non-fiction writer? You could try creating something based entirely in fantasy just for the escapism. Either way, these words are for you. You can show people, if you want, but you’re under no obligations. If you’re in a sucky mood, allow yourself the freedom to have your words suck. Put down in text things that you could never and would never admit out loud. This can help even if you’re not already a writer, too.

One thing I find particularly useful is letters. I might write one addressed to my brain, or my body, my depression, or a specific place. Sometimes writing a letter to a person in your life will help, even if you never send it. The important thing is to get it off your chest so it’s not pushing you down.

If writing really isn’t working for you, try painting, or music. There is no one-size-fits-all here. One day, one thing might help and another it could be something else entirely. If you’ve tried writing in the past to lift your spirits and it didn’t pan out, what’s to say you shouldn’t give it another go?

If you have thoughts, anecdotes, or other tips to share, I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment and please, please, talk to someone if you’re really struggling. You deserve the help you need.

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Glow!

Meet Glo.

Glo is an artist. Or she would be, if she ever got started.

She has all the inspiration.

All the plans.

 

Glo gets caught up in doing lots of little, unimportant things.

Glo frustrates the f*ck out of her friends.

They can see everything she’s got to give, but all they hear are her excuses.

I’m gonna stop being like Glo.

 


My name means light. I have a coaster somewhere that says that. It also says that I have so much potential, I can’t be pinned down, and I never get anything finished. Well SCREW THAT!

From here, every time I get pissed at people like Glo, I’m gonna use that energy to go out and hit my targets and stop being such a damn hypocrite.

Yes, I love art. And photography. And animals. And precisely six-point-two-five million other things.

I know logically I can’t become an expert in all of them, so the logical thing is to stop and focus on one thing, maybe dabbling in other things along the way, and maybe giving something else my full energy and attention when I’m done making it as a writer. But I’m gonna be a writer first.

Now begins the season of quality over quantity.

Glo’s gonna keep me right.

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Experiments in Mixed Media

Today, I’m feeling inspired.

I love photography, and poetry, and art; and what I want to create is a pamphlet that not only includes all three, but mixes together all three, right there on the same page.

In the same space.

I want it to be art in and of itself. A collaboration of words and ideas, but not focusing on the words, too much.

Can someone tell me: Do such things already exist? Is there a name for what I’m after? Please, let me know.

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Comics as High Culture

For a lot of last year, I was producing a weekly radio show all about the Arts Scene in Northern Ireland. It was a mixed bag, regularly featuring interviews, reviews, and exhibition notices. As part of it, I spoke to poets, authors, painters, and singer/songwriters, not to mention a range of people involved at various levels in the organizing of Belfast’s many cultural events and festivals.

One group of people I didn’t initially seek out were the city’s many talented comic writers and graphic illustrators, however. A good friend kept insisting I do a feature on comics, but I dismissed the idea. Comic books are for kids, I kept thinking, they’re not particularly cultural. Needless to say, my friend challenged this thinking, and he was right to, because I was wrong. Let me break down why, for a second:

  1. Comics are not just for children (Watchmen, anyone?)
  2. Even if they were, that wouldn’t make them inherently less valuable to society
  3. Who even gets to decide what culture is? Everyone and no one. My friend’s definition was as valid as mine (except for the fact that mine was wrong).

Continue reading

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