When Writing Found Me and My PTSD.
Writing came as something of a surprise...
...admittedly when I needed it most. I have had a difficult 18 months since a triggering event re-sparked my PTSD which gained depression for company due to lack of appropriate treatment. Eventually I began to question my position of an emergency department nurse, to seek refuge at my grandparents (who had raised me since the age of five) and finally accept the help I desperately needed.
I’ve always been one of the strongest and resilient people I knew so this was really tough, to stop working and rely on people. At this point however, it was this or suicide and having just enough insight into the profound effect this would have on my dearest, I knew deep down, despite the desperation to be rid of the discomfort generously dished out by the PTSD and persistent low mood, I had to give recovery maximum effort.
...writing stories and poems, I thought you needed a skill to do that.
The writing, I’d never considered, regardless of the times it was recommended as a sensible and safe coping mechanism, it was always for other people, not me. I’ve never entertained anything I cannot learn quickly nor do naturally; luckily, I tend to be a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, good enough for me most of the time. But diaries for mood, sleep or activities always seemed a waste of time, and writing stories and poems, I thought you needed a skill to do that.
I vaguely remember some high school teacher saying I had a gift for English that was totally lost due to my ‘bad behaviour’. This was occasionally supported with well won arguments with teachers, based on a quick and sharp tongue. I believed this to be strong mindedness rather than possession of any linguistic skill.
The last time I thought I might have a ‘gift’ for writing was when I got received my GCSE results. I was predicted Us across the board I might add, so very nearly didn’t sit the exams at all. Turns out I passed every single subject, mostly Bs and Cs but an A in English literature. Obviously both the teaching staff and I were totally astounded and I had to make a last minute application for a sixth form college as not to waste my new found academic ability.
When I first noticed my mental health taking a significant dip...
...following a triggering event involving my abusive father and neglectful mother in February 2018, I immediately began to isolate and became incapable of anything that had kept me busy in the past. With relentless flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, hypervigilance and physical discomfort as a result of the anxiety, I lost love for both listening to and playing music, reading, walking and being around people etc.
I felt like I had lost everything, almost overnight and couldn’t even remember what I was like before my life turned this way. I had a huge issue with grounding, self-soothing and just being, I grew to hate myself and my behaviour very quickly and with great intensity.
I felt like I had lost everything, almost overnight and couldn’t even remember what I was like before...
I frequently found myself pacing or lying still under a blanket with a rapid movement in one or both of my feet. Life was exhausting and unpleasant and the thoughts of suicide were becoming an increasing feature of my internal polylogue. I couldn't open up to anyone and I had no outlet for all this anxiety and negative energy.
I wrote my first poem on 31/3/19 after words about my complicated relationship with my mum were spinning around my head and keeping my anxious. I can’t say that the writing made me feeling better but I felt like I’d been through a process. Progress of some description and it sounded cool when read aloud too. I sent it to a few very close friends and read it aloud to my cousin who was seriously impressed.
The praise spurred me on to come up with something else. At this time, all my ideas and dribblings of rhymes were stored in a ‘google keep’ app on my phone and that’s where they stayed until I realised I had written maybe 10 or so and I was growing confidence with each one, so I decided to type them up into a word document, with the name Sic(k), a double use of the slang term and a poke off fun at my psychological illness.
I couldn't open up to anyone and I had no outlet for all this anxiety and negative energy.
Once this had happened I was writing every single day...
...at least one poem per day, often about my incessant struggle with my condition and regarding conversations I was unable to have with people, particularly family members and the community psychiatric team as my frustration grew with myself. I was the admitted to a psychiatric ward.
This collection grew to 50 within a few weeks, with more insight into me and my mind than I could ever say. The psychiatric consultant here even had a look and it helped him understand me despite my absence of word. I have since completed a further 50 piece collection called Still Sic(k) and am currently writing a further collection called Illest. I don’t generally reread my work but have recorded some in spoken word format and added music to create beat poetry. Throughout the poetry writing I have also completed a diary since admission and have weekly poetry slot on a mental health support page.
I can honestly say now, writing helps.