Over the years, whilst working with addicts and their families I have often promoted and advocated the value of being able to help offload mindless thoughts that have plagued people’s minds, especially when their thoughts have started to cloud their judgments.
Writing is recognised as being an integral part of therapy, we would encourage the use of thought record sheets and mood or activity diaries. These are particularly good for helping people to self-identify triggers that might be causing negative behaviours that they were looking to change.
In addiction ‘getting our thoughts onto paper and out of our head’ can allow us to be able to see things from another perspective, but it doesn’t just help with Addiction, it can serve to help anyone regardless of their personal circumstances.
Also, writing doesn’t have to be about just negative stuff either, some people find it helpful, (myself included) when they’re feeling well, when they are in a good place and able to cope with daily life, to write a letter to themselves sharing and capturing any personal achievements. And as well as being positively affirming, the same notes can also be used to refer back to when you are not feeling so good or are struggling to cope.
It is like the stable and strong you, writes a letter to the more vulnerable you and reminding you that you are stronger than what you think.
Writing can also help when dealing with others who might be causing you distress, it might be to those who are no longer here or those who are. Writing a letter to then can allow you to voice your true feelings and tell them how they really made you feel, especially if you feel unable to tell that same person face to face.
Some people find it helpful to burn the letter, watching the smoke rise up, particularly if the person has died or just imagine the letter arriving at its destination to the person in questions and seeing the reaction you want them to have or maybe it’s enough just to have written it.
You don’t have to keep a daily journal either, you can do more spontaneous writing, or a ‘Mind Dump’ as I prefer to call it, just writing down whatever comes into your heads, perhaps for a certain period of time – 10 minutes or half an hour. It may read like nonsense, and that’s okay. That’s how our minds work.
By just writing down all the random, feelings or thoughts even if it seems apparently nonsensical just write anything that comes to mind. Once finished you might find that there is something that’s worth spending more time thinking about, or you might decide that it’s okay to just leave it there, on the paper.
Again, you can choose what you then do with the paper – you can either keep or destroy it, I chose to save it, on my computer of course and at the last count my personal journal contained over 114,850 words!
How you write isn’t important either, your use of grammar doesn’t matter, I can attest to this after being expelled on numerous occasions from school, being in the bottom class for every lesson, I would sometimes re-read back what I had written and scorn myself for poor spelling or for talking utter shit. In fact, had I not had the help and guidance from a close friend who was more academically inclined than me, who helped edit my uni assignments I wouldn’t now be the proud owner of a degree.
Over the years, I have started to care less about ‘how’ I write, focusing more on ‘what’ I’m writing. So much so I decided to bite the bullet and go public, to create my own space, my own blog a platform where my writing, my thoughts, feelings, and opinions could be heard and thanks to the help of spell checking and apps such as Grammarly, I can tend to string a sentence together without the grammar police turning up to arrest me.
I started journaling again two years ago I turned one of the kid’s old bedrooms into a makeshift writing space, which gives me some respite from the external world and everyday struggles. I have been known to occasionally refuse the offer of going somewhere preferring to spend time alone writing. At first some people, the ones closest to me thought the act of sitting alone writing was antisocial and questioned how could writing possibly help me?
Which brings me to this fucking book.
During dad’s active addiction, I turned to writing, there was many a night I found myself unable to sleep, being kept awake worrying and stressing if he’d be dead by the following morning. I found that the only way I could find sleep was if I offloaded everything I was thinking and feeling and ‘mind dumping’ it onto paper. When dad died, I no longer felt the need to write, my sleep returned life slipped back to normal, whatever the fuck normal means!
Over the past two years in addition to the journal and after taking some advice from friends who are ‘accomplished writers’ I started to chronicle my life story, starting with my earliest memories. I had managed to write over 18 chapters, containing over 40,435 words.
I have always felt the urge to write a book, especially about my own personal journey of addiction, but also the journey I took with my dad and his alcoholism. Unfortunately for dad he pushed his addiction to the furthest any addict could result in him developing end-stage alcoholism, which basically means there is a 0% chance of him ever fully recovering or reversing from the physical damage caused to his body.
After fifteen years since dad passed and I have piles of A4 notes containing the ramblings of a mad women. and since restarting journaling I have taken a giant leap and enlisted the help of a local author and writing coach, ‘I might be successful in many areas of my life but pulling together a book isn’t in my repertoire or skill set’.
Writing for oneself is one thing but I am found writing for others quite challenging. One of the main obstacles has been overcoming the personal barriers of self-doubt and fear are something quite different and this is turning out to be a labor of love and hate at times.
People have often asked me ‘doesn’t it get you down reflecting on the past?’ but my answer is always the same ‘no’ because I actually find it all very therapeutic and if I can translate my personal experience and help even just one person then this labor of love will all be worth it.
Its early days and with the help of my coach I have finally found a structure for the book, a way of telling ‘my’ story, I have found a way to share dad’s story and the horrors he and those around him endured as a result of his alcoholism.
If you are feeling in a dark place and want to explore ways to help yourself, then I would highly recommend taking pen to paper.
I would recommend the following sites as a starting point and if you do start to write I would be interested in how it has or hasn’t helped you, Ps thanks for listening.
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too