Using Poetry To Discuss Mental Illness

Today I’m returning to a more personal topic, or what I originally began this blog for: understanding and recovering from mental illness.

Too many of us shy away from the topic in fear that we won’t attract as many readers, however we should all learn to make it a priority. After all, one of the best ways to provide support for others online is to discuss mental illness and raise awareness. I wanted to take the time to share an outlet of expression I use as a writer that may help other people.

After I experiencing episodes of depersonalization, a side effect of anxiety, I found it difficult to describe how I was feeling. Writing helped me stay in touch with my emotions, even when I felt disconnected from myself.

I wrote the poem “Blue” to describe what it feels like to lose yourself due to uncontrollable forces.

As somber as the poem is, it was the only way I could put what I was going through into words. I know that others reading it will have their own opinions; but at the end of the day it’s honest and true to my experiences, and that’s always how writing should be. Being able to describe my feelings through writing is always therapeutic.

I didn’t know what depersonalization was at the time because I never knew that there was a term to describe it, nor do I hear it discussed nearly as often as the other symptoms are. At the time it helped me pinpoint what the true source of my worries was.

Not only is writing my feelings out a process of catharsis, but it helped me realize that what I was going through was more serious than I thought at the time. It encouraged me to find an explanation to the distressing periods of depersonalization I endured. This realization ultimately became the reason I was able to combat that feeling of helplessness and take control of myself again.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and naturally the changes in the poetry I write reflect that changes I go through in my life.

It took me a long time to decide whether or not I should share it before posting it online about a month ago. I feared that no one would relate to where I was coming from. It can be terrifying to post work, especially personal posts like this, because there is that fear in that back of your mind that you’ll be misunderstood. But sometimes it is necessary to let go of that fear.

To my surprise, I received feedback from various people who said they experienced the same feelings before. In fact, the more I found other writers, the more pieces I found that I truly resonated with. Writing proved to be a common outlet of expression for so many people.

Writing isn’t the only form of art that can be very effective in portraying and educating about mental illness. Take music, song writing, painting and many other forms of art for example- they are outlets in which people can express themselves better than they can through a typical conversation.

xx

Thank you for reading as always.

Good Things Takes Time

A reminder for anyone going through the process of recovery.

“People are always telling me that things will get better soon,” He said. “But I’m tired of waiting for change.”

That day, my friend confided in me that he had not been happy for a long time. He was growing impatient in watching others living their lives and making progress while he remained stuck in the same, endless cycle of self-doubt. Because no matter how hard he tried, he said, things just weren’t getting better. He thought that after he finally got past the hardship he had faced that it would be over. Yet the process of recovering itself proved to be much more difficult.

I know that feeling. Finally reaching a finish line, making it to the top of the mountain, only to find that there is still another mile left in the race. While I wish I had a simple answer for my friend that day, there is no simple solution. The advice I wish I could have given that day is something that you must take with a grain of salt. But the truth is, for anyone on the journey to recovery, it that you aren’t going to heal in a day.

Because healing isn’t always waking up and feeling the sun on your skin. It isn’t always a quick or simple process like we want it to be.

Sometimes healing is putting down the phone for the last time and accepting that you shouldn’t let that person back in, no matter how much the memories are pulling you back. Sometimes healing is pushing yourself to open the curtains and face the world despite the people who tell you that you aren’t good enough. Sometimes it is that aching feeling in our chest, the waves of uncertainty when we take a leap of faith.

Rather than feeling intimidated by this, you need to think of healing as growing pains. To truly adapt and learn from your past, you will need to make changes and learn. We must to let ourselves grow out of the pain from the past and close old wounds if we ever want to move on. Healing, similar to fighting, takes strength. It means having to push through that last mile no matter how much you want to turn back. As soon as you finally cross that line and reach the top, you will realize that it was worth it all along.

It might not happen in a week, or even a few months, and maybe you won’t be able to see how much you have truly grown because you are too busy working on yourself. Just don’t discredit yourself for not being able to see this in the mirror right away. Because good things take time, and can show up where we least expect it to.

If I could go back to that conversation I had that day, there is one last piece of advice I would give. Because of of all of the things I am uncertain of, there is one thing that always holds true when it comes to healing.

I can promise you that one day, you will find yourself smiling once again because you’re finally living without the weight of the past holding you down. Because all of those promises you made to yourself will become a garden, a symbol of the growth you have made during the process of moving on. You will no longer feel the need to bury the past away, because it is there in that garden, a reflection of the strength you had in you all along.

And although it takes work, there is no better feeling than taking the challenges life as handed you and turning it into something beautiful.

xx



Yes, I Have Changed

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You told me that I changed; that you could no longer recognize who I am. You said that with disappointment traced in your voice. I, on the other hand, took it as a compliment.

Looking back at who I was just months ago, I can see how far I have come. We often look at how we change over the years but seem to forgot that we are constantly changing. Each and every day we experience new things, encounter new obstacles, and grow, even if we do not see these small changes at first. And as you grow and change for the better, you may begin to outgrow old habits and old people. Eventually, we reach a point where old relationships and friendships are tested.

I realized that this is the main reason why I am no longer in touch with some people. When I look at my past, I know that I am not nearly as confident or independent as I am now. Although there are still times where I am unsure of myself, I have grown enough to know my own worth and that it is not determined by others. I used to thrive off of approval and recognition, and in this stage of my life was where I met some of my closest friends.

These friends seemed to know that, and took advantage. I was blinded by my love for these friends, so much that I could not see the effect they had on me. I changed because of them- for the worse- and lost touch with what was important to me. Although as time passed while I surrounded myself with toxic people, I had to learn where to draw the line. For a long time, I chose to be around people who were simply not interested in bettering themselves or the world around them.  As I grew out of old habits, they were not pleased with me. They did not like who I was becoming, mainly because it did not fit their ‘criteria’. I began to wonder, why did they not support me? Why did I need their approval? They did not like to see that I was changing.

I grew out of that mentality as I began to focus on myself and my goals, which included being independent. I knew that I could never do so  and from then on I could see the negative impact that those friendships had on me. I can not blame them, but I had to accept that we just did not share the same values. In some ways I grew to be more mature than these old friends and slowly we grew apart. In my time away from toxic relationships, I built better ones where we support each other. These relationships have promoted me to grow and have taught my that the only approval I need is from myself.

Don’t fear change; embrace it. Take each and every experience, every person, and each obstacle as a lesson. You will find yourself flourishing once you finally give yourself the chance to grow.