There is something about words, something fluid, warm, recognisable and true. Just a short while ago I was again reminded of my love for anything written, and how it more than likely, came to be.
Early on in life, I was already a dedicated library-lover. Living above one eased the path towards it, and it definitely turned me into a bibliophile. Countless hours and days were spent walking around in it, searching and nurturing books.
When my Dutch language teacher put me on the spot when I was 14 years old, he made me admit blame for a silly grammatical mistake in front of the whole class, asking me if I had any dictionaries at home, and if so, why they weren’t on my desk when I wrote that particular essay. While I already spent half my childhood with a book in my hands, he taught me about the artistry of words by not only reading and writing even more but by deliberately watching my words while I was writing. So many years later, I still value what he unintentionally did for me.
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Just as unwittingly, my illness came to be, and writing took centre stage once more. Gone were the days of writing poetry for library events, present became the need to express what physically went on within me. Spreading awareness about MS by writing and helping the outside world see my story from my point of view, it certainly has helped do just that. I was firmly put on the road to writing once more, and I never looked back since.
I daydream of writing a book, the physical act of writing, pen in hand, copybook ready, daydreaming of what would happen next. Words flowing from my fingers onto my keyboard, seeing things take shape; it is a soft murmur getting louder, a flicker of my unconscious mind taking place.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
I am now a firm believer in writing therapy; seeing things written down makes whatever goes in your mind clearer. What you wrote cannot be unsaid, but it is up to you if you want to share it. It’s the first step in taking ownership of your thoughts, your mind. It’s for free and the only thing required from you is your time, pen, paper or laptop, and the willingness to address what comes to mind.
Scientific research shows that writing can help boost your immune system, so why not try it? Even specific illnesses and/or symptoms caused by depression, anxiety and traumatic experiences can be dealt with by putting pen to paper. In my own case, dealing with the aftermath of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and subsequent relationship issues, writing has helped so much so that my own GP acknowledges that I am now better equipped to deal with MS symptoms.
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
(James A. Michener)
Many people experience paper as a very willing ear that listens without judging. The writer is in control of what happens next, it doesn’t require you to be there at a specific time or place. From studying Counselling Psychology, I was already aware of the many benefits of writing, but it was not until I sat down the first time and dedicated myself to pen and paper, that I realised the potential of writing therapy.
“Tears are words that need to be written.”
Slowly but surely writing became a drug, not only one that is very easy to sustain but one that doesn’t harm anyone. Bad memories disappeared, if not eradicated; new, fresh and good ones were created. What I do about running into bad memories is totally independent of what therapists would tell me to do. I can leave writing for another day, or choose to address it now. I can choose to keep what I wrote in a diary, or I can throw it into the garbage.
For people uninterested in seeking a therapist to tackle certain mental issues, writing can indeed be very helpful, either as a stepping stone towards real-life therapy or towards better insight in one’s mind. Any type of behaviour or emotion can be put to paper without fearing the outside world will find you weird or unable to communicate properly.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
Writing now is a daily reflection, a midnight thought turned into inspiration. By reading even more than you already did, writing can be greatly improved. Rereading old blog posts and catching one or two grammar issues turns me into my own critic, one that is not harsh on me but shows me that writing is a conscious process of unconscious ideas.
I don’t have to be a female Shakespeare or Tennyson, a Joyce or Yeats. As long as my mind can be improved upon by writing daily, my eyes will remain the only witness they always were. Quiet, respectful and non-judgmental.
For more info on writing in general, please visit:
©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013.