Depression and Writing As A Coping Skill
Lately, I have found myself with some extra free time on my hands. Which isn’t a bad thing, except for the fact that when I have free time I tend to ruminate, and when I tend to ruminate, depressive thoughts and symptoms often come up. This left me searching out new ways to deal with my depression symptoms and discovering writing as an outlet.
Writing As An Outlet to Address Depression
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled on the idea of writing more and how this might help my depressive symptoms, or at least give me more insight into them. The idea of writing to help ease depression is not new. There are many who believe it can be very helpful to write about our emotional states and who encourage talking/writing about depression in a variety of ways.
I recently started a writing practice called Morning Pages from the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Essentially, I sit down every morning and write three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing. I don’t worry about perfect punctuation or writing anything grand. I just keep my hand moving and keep writing. This exercise has helped me with my depressive symptoms in ways I wouldn’t have expected.
The Perks of Regular Writing For Depression
- It’s a date. -- Often feeling depressed makes getting out of bed difficult, to say the least. Knowing that my notebook and a cup of coffee are waiting for me each day has helped. Having an activity like this to focus on and finish each day helps give me a sense of accomplishment right at the start of the day.
- It’s not what I write, it’s the process. -- Being a bit of a perfectionist, I wondered at first whether I could write these pages each day. Especially since I was feeling a little depressed, I didn’t think I’d be writing anything worthwhile. But I learned quickly that this wasn’t the point. These pages are not for publication; they are for each individual to learn as they undertake them. They have a cumulative effect over time. The process of writing is what’s important.
- There are insights when least expected. -- The topics of my writing range from writing about the cup of coffee I’m drinking to wondering about how I will really fill up another three pages of space. But time and again, I’ve noticed that when I least expect them to, insights arrive, too. It may be a childhood memory that I haven’t thought about in years that surfaces and provides some understanding to what I’m experiencing now. Just the other day, out of nowhere, I found myself writing that in being so fearful of the future, I was mourning something that hasn’t happened yet. This helped me see that my anxiety was pushing me too far into the future and out of the present moment, where help and growth is available. While writing has not completely squelched my depressive symptoms, it has helped and I look forward to what I might learn over time as I continue writing.
Tazzi, J. (2014, October 29). Depression and Writing As A Coping Skill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2014/10/depression-and-writing-as-an-outlet
Author: Jennifer Tazzi
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Dear Don't Worry,
I'm sorry that you're going through what sounds like a very hard time. I hope you get the help and support you need.
I enjoy writing and have used it as an outlet for my depression for many years. I have not considered it as a way to motivate myself. I have been having a real hard time with motivation for over a year now. I feel like my life is falling apart and there is nothing I can do about it. I wish I could use writing as a way to get myself started each day. Typically I write at night before I try to go to sleep. I don't do that very well at night and will then spend half the day in bed wasting my life away.
Regarding your question about writing on a computer, for me personally there is something about writing longhand, stream of consciousness style that I feel allows me to tap into interesting insights. Having said that, we're all different and if you feel more drawn to using a computer, I would go for it. I would imagine the insights will flow in that style as well. As for blogging about emotions, it's interesting. I blog about my emotions and find it helpful. Of course, there are also things I prefer to write about in a journal style. Overall, I think it can be helpful to have different kinds of writing for support. Thank you for your questions and your interest. All the best, Jenn
Cale, I tend to type my thoughts and emotions in a private journal on the computer. If I pick up a pen the paper remains blank but sit at a keyboard and the fingers just flow. I think this is the way I best express myself. It has been very helpful for me.
My girlfriend shared your article with me, I've been working to overcome anxiety and depression for over ten years and since my divorce it's been a lot harder. I used to write a lot as a teenager but as an adult I have difficulty commiting time to activities that don't present an obvious reward. I am trying to revive my love of the pen, but I have a question: Do you think typing a private journal on computer can have the same effect on your state of mind, and what are your thoughts on blogging these emotions?
this is very puzzling. my kind of depression would not respond to writing. there is nothing to say about it. it's just a bunch of nothingness. nothing to say at all. to each his own.
I know how you feel. I write poetry now about how I'm feeling. It definitely helps to release everything I'm holding inside.
Good point - writing can be a great way to deal with strong emotions. All the best, Jenn
Writing helps me get rid of my anger, if I don't write I ruminate about the anger. Actually, writing is the only way I can get my anger out and it is safe.
When I was going through a divorce I wrote more than ever. People used to praise me for my "dedication", saying how great it was that I was able to write when I was in so much pain. I wanted to say, "Doing this is the only thing keeping me together!"
Dear Rain Gill,
Glad writing benefits you as well! Thank you for sharing. All the best, Jenn
Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for this post! I have been writing ever since I began experiencing depressive symptoms. I am a very passionate advocate for writing as a therapeutic tool, and I am so glad to see others are benefiting from it as well!
I'm glad writing and teaching are helping you. Thank you for sharing your experience. All the best, Jenn
Reading your latest post about having more free time and writing is something I can identify with. I am glad that this is helping you. I've been suffering from depression and being a teacher, facing half term break is something that makes me fell frightened and very anxious. Depression does not leave me and I feel lost. I can not wait to start teaching next week. Is something that I enjoy doing and feel not a failure. Writing is another aspect of my life that I feel it helps me. It is difficult to explain how I feel at times and the easiest thing is to put a smile and say 'I'm fine'. Writing is like talking about your emotions and emotions are like conversations. Others participate to make us feel happy, sad, angry or satisfied.
Wish you all the best