Writing has always been an important part of my life. I remember filling notebook after notebook with reams of ideas and stories as a kid. Writing was my escape. As I got older I continued to write and it became a release from the depression that had suddenly manifested into my life. I even decided to go to University to study creative writing.
As an adult, I’ve had many struggles with mental illness. The symptoms of bipolar ran my life and my attempts to control the highs and lows were in vain.
I began to write, but this time, it began as a journal. I’d never kept a diary before. I just started to write, and soon everything was laid out. How much I’d been struggling, how guilty, helpless and ashamed I felt. It helped me immensely. I felt a release to see all these thoughts that I’d bottled up committed to paper.
Writing became my own private therapy.
I’ve had therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) a couple of times. The first time round it really helped. I went to the sessions to help me deal with panic attacks. I learnt some important techniques and a new way of thinking about the experience. I use them to help me deal with nighttime panic attacks . The panic attacks subsided afterwards, and now I very rarely have one, maybe only once a year.
My second experience of CBT was not so positive. It wasn’t long after I’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was offered group therapy and wanting to know more about the condition, and share experiences with others, I said yes. The course didn’t help. It was basic, and didn’t teach me anything new about the condition. There was never any time to share our experiences. I still felt alone.
I continued to write, but now I wanted to share what I’d written. I started a blog, this blog. Although now I don’t always write about my personal experiences, writing still helps me.
It gives me focus and a sense of purpose when I’m depressed. It helps me to stay calm and concentrate when I’m manic. It drowns out the voices and helps me process the experience when I’m psychotic.
I’m not in therapy at moment. A lack of therapeutic styles on offer from the NHS means I’d have to seek private therapy. I can’t afford to do that, so my option is talking therapies; that didn’t go well last time
So for now writing will have to be my therapy. I’m sort of ok with that. I’m annoyed that I can’t access actual therapy, but at least I’ve found something in my life that helps me.