I've spoken many times on the blog about the powerful healing energy of turning to some sort of creative way to release pent up emotions. Now, more than ever, I am truly grateful to have both writing and music to turn to.
There are many manuscripts and many examples of this form of creative writing that have impressed me but two instances instantly popped to mind when I thought about today's topic.
A few years ago, I was asked to review a manuscript that was about to be published and write a blurb for the cover. The book was about one woman’s battle with breast cancer.
The manuscript wasn’t your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical memoir. Of course, the author went into some depth about her illness and the treatments she'd endured but she used poetry and journal entries to tell her story. Admittedly, I’m not the most poetic person and I often miss the message in certain styles of poetry. However, I found this author’s approach so beautiful. Some of the poems she’d written during her chemo, others she wrote during her check-ups, and others still she wrote when she wondered whether she should give up. Writing was a release for her. It was a way for her to fight back, even when her body wasn’t strong enough to.
Another woman I know who turned to writing as a way to cope with her stress and deep-set emotions is Jennie Linthorst. Jennie’s husband, Erik, directed a movie called “Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story,” which is a documentary about one family’s journey to getting the right diagnosis and treatment for their son Graham. The movie was how Erik dealt with his frustration and determination while writing poetry was Jennie’s. I remember watching the scenes of Jennie sharing some of her poetry in the documentary and being brought to tears. I related to her pain and thought, “Wow! How phenomenal of her to reach out through writing.” Not only does Jennie write poetry, but she also inspires other mothers of special needs children to reach to their own creative side by teaching them to write poetry too.
The amazing thing is that both of these phenomenal women tapped into the part of their soul a lot of people don’t usually turn to when going through tragedy. The part that gives us renewed energy, that keeps us away from maladaptive ways of coping and gives us the strength to keep fighting…to keep living. It’s the part that reminds us of who we really are apart from the ugliness we’re fighting or the tough times that life throws at us.
You don’t have to be going through painful times to keep a journal or to write down your thoughts. Life is filled with many adventures that nobody else experiences the way you do. Why not write them down, even if it’s only for you to read. And like with the brave women above, and so many others like them, healing through words has always been the best medicine for me.