Image and Text By Rick McVicar
Creative writing has been a doorway to brain health for a few writers with mental illness who have publicized their personal stories. Some of them can be found on the Internet.
For instance, book author Jason Waddle has told his story on a YouTube video, titled, “Creative Writing and Mental Illness.” He has published a book of poetry titled Awake in Dreams: Sleeping Death Away.
In the video, Waddle reflects on where his ideas originate. Many times they arrive as he is sleeping, while other times they come as he walks down the street.
Waddle tells viewers he has suffered with mental illness, which for him has involved depression and anxiety attacks.
Although not all writers need to have mental illness for them to write, they must be acquainted with suffering.
“Life is about pressure. How are you going to deal with it?” Waddle asks.
Good creative writers express what is going on internally in their lives.
“For a writer, there’s something inside that needs to come out,” he adds.
Waddle was a graduate student at the time of his YouTube posting. He says in his video that he has had 30 short stories published in addition to his poetry.
Kelly M. is another person with mental illness who has found creative writing to be helpful. Kelly M.’s personal story is titled, “How Creative Writing Saves Me in the Thick of Mental Illness,” found on themighty.com, Sept. 1, 2021.
Kelly’s writings began in the first grade with an assignment about a ship. Writing has been a big part of Kelly’s life ever since.
“I like to communicate what is inside with metaphor and fiction,” Kelly writes.
Metaphors are lynchpins for brain health, according to Oddgeir Synnes in the journal article, “The Poetics of Vulnerability,” in Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy, June, 2021.
Synnes led a group of researchers who developed a group writing experience for adolescents and young adults who had suffered psychosis. After 12 sessions, the researchers studied participants’ texts and interviewed the participants.
Creative writing “can allow for the verbalization of illness experience,” Synnes notes.
It can also help a person develop a personal sense of meaning, foster hope and bring a “personal management of illness,” according to Synnes. It adds to socialization as well, especially when done in a group setting.
The writings included poetry, journaling, fiction and autobiographical material.
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