I started writing poetry when I was 9 years old. Nobody ever told me to do it, I simply felt compelled to create a tangible representation of what went on in my young head. As a kid suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I had a lot of emotions flowing through me: anger and fear being major players. I spent a lot of time alone, and I spent a lot of time writing. I filled notebook after coil-bound notebook with these little poems that just sort of poured out of me. I kept them all hidden away in a drawer.
As I got older, my body changed and puberty began. My confusion and developing feelings towards boys were spelled out in my poem books and journals. When I finally got my own room in our unfinished basement when I was 12, a new hiding spot was found for my growing collection of notebooks up on top of some metal vents near the ceiling.
A few years later, high school began and my increased level of emotional intensity was matched by an increase in both the frequency and severity of content in my poems. I branched out into writing stories at this time as well. I was an angry girl who acted out, had a problem with authority, and spent every moment possible working on artistic endeavors or spending time with some of the first friends I ever had who I felt understood me. It was in high school where I developed a taste for controversy, which was reflected in my assignments for a creative writing class which were never marked because they were “too disturbing” for the teacher to stomach. I was proud of this fact. Hell, I still am. Isn’t the purpose of writing to make someone feel something?
When my mother bought a family computer when I was 15, it wasn’t long before I became quite quick at typing and moved my previously handwritten hobby into a digital one. I’d type out poetry and short stories into Notepad files and save them to floppy disks rather than continuing with my spiral-bound notebooks, which by that time seemed slow and clumsy in comparison. Thematically, my work remained dark and focused on love, death, and depression.
My writing stopped rather abruptly when I was in my early twenties. I was working full time with people I loved. I was in a long-term relationship. I had friends I loved spending time with. I didn’t have time for those silly writing projects anymore. After 6 months or so without writing much of anything, my chronic depression had spiraled down to a point where I could barely get out of bed most days. At the time, with all the good going on in my life this didn’t make sense to me. My self-harming had gotten quite bad again and suicide was never far from my mind. Nearing complete hopelessness, I went to see my doctor who prescribed an antidepressant for my depression, anxiety and OCD symptoms, as well as a twice-a-week appointment with a psychologist.
I saw the psychologist at the scheduled times for about 4 months. Things had gotten bad between my boyfriend at the time and myself because he wasn’t able to give me the space I needed to heal and so we broke up. A year later I still hadn’t written anything. The meds I was on had taken away the bad feelings, but they’d also taken away any good feelings. I was essentially an emotional zombie, losing my ability to create anything with colour or with words. I made the conscious decision to go off my meds and start creating again as a way to handle my mental health issues and fulfill my desire to create.
I started writing again. I started drawing and painting again. It took a year to safely wean myself off the medication I’d been on, and it was difficult. When I look back now, I realize that I was trying to use medication to accomplish what I’d normally been able to accomplish using my creative outlets. I’ve always been more fulfilled when I’m creating, and when I stop for too long, my head tends to get out of control.
I’ve noticed, more recently than ever before, just how necessary it is for me to write. I’ve always thought of myself as a visual artist. I never really claimed the title “writer” in the same way until this last year. The things is, I’ve always been happiest when I’m actively writing. In the last month or so, since I’ve resumed blogging regularly, I’ve found myself reaching a state of inner calm. I’m forced to remember why I stopped writing in the first place, and once again it was because life got busy with work and motherhood and trying to be a responsible adult. I stopped giving writing any priority in my daily life.
Without writing, I become this sort of wound up ball of string. Every day that goes by without writing becomes another length wrapped tightly around my middle until the very center of who I am becomes so compressed that I lose myself. Every time I sit down at my computer and start typing away into the night, I unravel a little bit. This built up emotional fog I have to such excess gets released in little spurts and I start to see more clearly.
I write to figure things out. I don’t usually know how a blog post will begin or end until I’m in the desperate throes of its creation. It starts with a single inspired thought and as I type out word after word, sentence after sentence, it evolves. I whisper to myself each line and furiously type it out until it feels somehow complete. Many posts get published on the blog, and many don’t. When it really comes down to it, I write for me. Sometimes I get messages or emails or comments from people who say that a post of mine helped them, and that is a really great feeling.
When I deny the writer in me, it’s a poison in my life. The built up emotion or ideas end up coming out negatively if I don’t give them their own space. This is something I’ve learned and re-learned the hard way a number of times. I need to write. Writing is the one thing that’s always been able to save me.