Literature and Mental Health
Mental health struggles are rife. The number of people making contact for support is rising which indicates one of two things. Either more people are coming forward and we already had a significant problem or else more people are finding themselves in need of mental health support and we have a developing problem. I imagine there’s a likelihood that it’s a blend of both.
Regardless of reasoning, it has become invaluable for individuals to have functional tools in their box of coping mechanisms, things that they can do when they find them selves in hardship.
In this post I want to focus on something which when acknowledged for its true power and relationship with the individual, can become invaluable.
If what comes next doesn’t come naturally to you, I recommend following UnchainedLiterature in the belief that there is a perfect collection of tools for everyones mental health maintenance just waiting to be discovered.
~ WRITING ~
How can writing be a tool for mental health maintenance?
By the time we reach the doors of a counselling office, we tend to be full of a whole lot of emotion. These emotions obviously vary and can be anything from desperation and despair through to anger and overwhelming frustrations.
When we write, we can actually release some of that pent up emotion and as a result may feel a progression from one emotion to the next emotion as is required for growth and healing.
Often when we need mental health support (not necessarily from professionals) we can feel totally out of control as if we cant hold things down and together OR for some they may feel the weight of baring too much control in their day to day living and be caught I’m a cycle of carrying too much demand on the person.
When we write creatively we are assuming near full control (near-full because characters can run the show too sometimes) of characters, plots, and happenings. This means we can write our own imaginary experiences or if we wish, literally rewrite our actual experiences. We can create our own character and guide them through a world of our creating where we can learn about ourselves. We can create separate characters to protect or guide us where we feel lost or unsure – we can create the people we need making it more easy to spot healthy real world connections.
3. REWRITE LIFE
Sounds like an odd one but very versatile in application. Life is wearing us. We are often in survival mode and doing what we ‘must’ but what if we could take a time out from this? As above, we can write characters into our lives, we can record the world around us, we can add in what we wish we saw, we can challenge the norms which fire us up… or… we can take time out to disappear into our own creative space completely. Both methods enable us that release and opportunity to see things play out differently.
4. REMEMBER AND PROTECT
Not all writing ULT encourages is creative and fictional. In fact, if ULT has been mission successful, there will be a writing style available for everyone on this site.
When we write to remember and protect we are taking our pointy tool and aiming it right at reality. Journaling or keeping a diary is a good way to become more aware of behavioural patterns and to then map going forward your own expectations. By journaling we can form realistic impressions of ourselves and the world around us which allows us to identify where change and compromise is needed, and to identify where things are already going well.
Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. For most of us, freedom is a craving. People want to be free of the chains and shackles binding them to the mundane reality we have no choice but to be a part of at times, and again, many of us want to escape the trauma in our pasts. Writing provides freedom. Writing gives us the opportunity to contemplate alternate outcomes and situations. Writing can enable us to live a love for lifetime, your broken heart can lead you to create exactly what you need for a tear jerking love story or an unravelling romance with an unforeseen ending. Maybe some might write to exact revenge upon someone who hurt, betrayed or double crossed them. Provided the line between your fantasy realm and the real world remains in reach, you are able to write to take yourself anywhere else that is possible to imagine. Linger there a while. Before you sleep stop running the same scripts you know by heart about your troubles and instead allow yourself the opportunity of getting immersed in your playground; bury your mind in your own creativity.
ULT will be exploring the many ways various types of literature can support mental health development and maintenance through a series of targeted posts on a range of writing styles and benefits of reading specific genres.
Stay tuned to learn how to beautifully graffiti the walls, doors, and hallways of your mind.