Healing Words: How Writing Can Break the Chains of Depression by AL-Saadiq Banks

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Have you ever been feeling low, down on your luck, stuck under a dark cloud and blinded by the darkness, or just plain stressed out? Of course, the answer to that question will be “yes” for more people than we may know of!

We all fall on hard times, and we all struggle to get back to our 'happy place.'

For some, getting back to themselves and their  happy place, can involve seeing a therapist. For others, it could be starting a new job or moving to a new place. For some of the more literary-minded or creative folks, getting better can begin with art. One such method is writing therapy. You don’t need to be a prolific writer, or even a writer at all, to benefit from writing therapy. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, and the motivation to write.

Journaling: Your Path to Mental Health

Many mental health experts recommend journaling because it can improve your mood and manage symptoms of depression. Studies support this and suggest journaling is good for your mental health. It may also make therapy work better. Something as simple as writing can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and help to ease feelings of depression. It helps you face anxious thoughts, and even embrace them. By writing things down, you'll face your vulnerabilities, which can reduce stress. And there's research to back it up, too. Positive affect journaling (PAJ) has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve well-being.

My Personal Journey Through Writing Therapy

When I wrote my first book, "No Exit," back in 2002, one of the things I noticed was the sense of relief I felt after typing "The End." Of course, the relief of finishing a book was amazing, but there was something much deeper within. The notebook that was covered in tear stains was full of pain that I had been living with and coping with, a pain that I didn't even know was there. The tears dropped as I touched on subjects that I unknowingly had never fully processed. Heartache, heartbreaks, betrayal, even the deaths of childhood friends that I thought I had processed and gotten over, only to find out through my writing that I had been just covering the scar all my life. Through writing, I realized the therapy involved in it. Writing made me look in the mirror and accept my flaws with hopes of changing and making me a better person. Writing for me is deeper than any dollar amount, and even when I'm not writing novels, I journal therapeutically.

How Writing Helps with Depression

Writing can be a powerful tool in the battle against depression. It allows you to confront your emotions, express your feelings, and gain a better understanding of your inner self. Here's how:

  • Catharsis: Writing helps you release pent-up emotions and provides a safe space to express your deepest thoughts.

  • Self-Reflection: It encourages self-reflection, helping you to better understand your emotions and triggers.

  • Embracing Vulnerabilities: Writing helps you face your vulnerabilities head-on, which is the first step in healing.

  • A Journey to Self-Acceptance: By putting your thoughts on paper, you can start to accept your flaws and work on personal growth.

Your Turn: Take Action

If you've been dealing with depression or simply want to explore the therapeutic benefits of writing, take the first step today:

  1. Grab a journal or open a blank document.
  2. Write freely, without judgment or fear.
  3. Express your thoughts and feelings honestly.
  4. Make it a habit to write regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes each day.

By picking up the pen or typing those words, you're taking control of your mental health journey.

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Writing has the power to heal, to transform, and to help you emerge from the shadows of depression. Join me in this journey of self-discovery through words, and let's break free from the chains of depression together.