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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Multiple Sclerosis Coping: Writing is My Therapy







As I was driving home from another morning of school drop-offs, something came over me. I could almost feel my Grandfather’s presence in my car, encouraging me. I needed something to motivate me at that moment, and he was in my mind. This man was a hero during his life, and he was also a writer. I have always had the “love of writing” gene, which I am sure was directly from him. There is a desire to write that cannot be taught or learned, one that sits in your soul and drives you until you release it onto paper. Would anyone care about what I had to say? Would anyone be interested in hearing my opinions or my life story? I cannot say. I suppose that is none of my business. What I need to do is write my story, and let it be.


As I sit here beginning this, I am crying. Why? My life is only half over at age 39, but I feel like I have lived a thousand years in that time. Since I was a young child, I had the urge to live life in fast-forward, doing everything as quickly as possible, with urgency. I felt as though my life would not be long, and I needed to experience as much as possible in my allotted time on Earth. At times, this may have seemed like youthful stupidity to those observing my life choices, but in reality I wanted to experience life to the fullest.

Unfortunately, things do not always work out the way you want them to. Marriages end, friendships change, and illness sometimes makes the
decisions for you. Will I ever have the chance to swim on a beach in the Mediterranean? Will I see Europe the way I have always wanted? Will my children be embarrassed to be in public with me if I need a wheelchair someday? Boy, my thoughts can sure get dark. Anxiety can take hold and pull me out of reality very quickly if I allow it to.

Writing can be the most therapeutic experience.

No matter what challenge I am coping with, I find that if I sit down and pour those feelings onto paper, I am refreshed and renewed. It is much like traditional therapy with a counselor, except the paper is your therapist. The words are your medication, and the process of putting your thoughts and emotions into words is your cure.

I am a rather shy person, and some would say I am quiet and private. I have a few extremely close friends and family, but I keep my circle small. The interesting thing is, when I sit down to write I have no trouble communicating and expressing my feelings. Words are my favorite form of expression. Whereas spoken words leave your mouth and cannot return, written words can be erased, changed, and edited after you have reviewed them.

When coping with a chronic illness like MS, expression of feelings is incredibly important. It is so easy to feel alone and without friends who understand. Journaling and writing is a great option for those who feel uncomfortable talking. “People who journal find a higher sense of self-awareness and are able to reduce anxiety and gain a sense of empowerment. Many people who struggle with deep emotional conflicts or traumas are unable to express their feelings in a verbal or physical way. Journaling allows a person the freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, frustration, or humiliation.” (http://www.goodtherapy.org/journal-therapy.html#)

My journaling experience has evolved into this blog. My hope is that my writing will continue to help me express the feelings I have about each challenge with MS, parenting, and life in general. In addition, I may have the opportunity to continue to heal others through this writing.

In my practice as Family Nurse Practitioner, I encouraged my patients to journal when traditional therapy was not appealing to them. Some of my patients used writing as an adjunct to traditional therapy, and found it extremely beneficial. From the feedback I received from my patients, my suspicions about the therapeutic effects of writing were confirmed. I would encourage anyone coping with illness, trauma, death, or simply life stress to try jotting down a few ideas onto paper.




Resources:

These are a few wonderful online resources I found for those who would like to learn more about journaling as therapy:

http://www.goodtherapy.org/journal-therapy.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201311/top-ten-art-therapy-visual-journaling-prompts

© Meagan Freeman, 2014. Motherhoodandmultiplesclerosis.com




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