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Why Writing is My Favorite Therapy for Chronic Illness

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Writing is not everyone’s favorite hobby. Some like reading, sketching, biking, running, painting, etc. Everyone has some hobby or activity that acts as a type of mental break in their day. Some people head to the gym while others pop on some headphones.

For me, it’s writing. It’s therapeutic for me in so many ways. Writing is a coping mechanism for me — an outlet for my frustrations and thoughts. It has become what I turn to when I feel most frustrated with my health. I’m also a big talker. I love telling stories and hearing and seeing people react. I like making people laugh and smile. I have a lot to say most of the time. However, every once in a while, I seem to lose my grasp on how to verbalize the thoughts that are continuously rolling around in my head. Most often, this phenomenon occurs when I’m having a very high pain-level day. Sometimes though, it happens when my head is no worse than normal but I’ve just become so fed up with living such a limited, chronic illness-filled life. However, in both situations I find myself in a clouded, distant world away from the real world around me. I fall into weird funks and want to store myself away like a bear hibernating for winter.

Usually those funks are spelled with constant “why me’s” and a good deal of blubbering. Instead of talking these funks out, I used to pout about them, but now I write about them. It’s been what they like to call “life-changing.” Ever since I can remember, I’ve turned to pen and paper when I need to get out my actual, genuine and sometimes not-so-glamorous thoughts. My worries, frustrations, questions and sour words have all come through more clearly in writing. So have my loving, praising, graceful and brighter words.

I know there have been many instances of me writing to my loved ones about why I’m feeling the way I am, how long I will (most likely) be feeling that way, and what I am able/not able to do because of how my chronic daily headaches are making me feel. It’s not easy for the people around us to understand what’s going on inside our bodies, physically or mentally, because they aren’t feeling it themselves. Chronic illness is such a hard thing for someone who doesn’t have one to comprehend. There’s nothing wrong with that either. It’s just up to us to explain the best that we can what it is we’re feeling. And for me, it’s easier for me to tell someone exactly what I am thinking and feeling when I write it out, even if the person I am telling is myself.

So the next time you find yourself at an impasse with friends, family or even your own cranium, try taking out a pen (or pulling out your laptop or cell phone because, let’s be real, it’s 2016) and just start writing/typing away. So often I find my fingers just won’t quit tapping away at the keys in front of me because there are so many more thoughts and words pouring out of my mind than I ever even thought I had the room for up there. For those of you who aren’t writers, give it a try. If it’s not for you, that’s OK. But you may end up pleasantly surprising yourself.

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Originally published: October 14, 2016
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