Writing Heals My Brain

I’ve turned to writing during many times of bipolar depression.  I know that many of you are writers too.  We write in blogs and in our journals. 

We email, take notes for classes, and once in a while, we even handwrite letters the old-fashioned way! So many forms of writing exist, and they can all serve us well in terms of catharsis and self-expression.  The following is a free-form piece I wrote when I was asked by a dear friend, “Why do you write?” 

I write because I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine-years-old. 

I write because my mother gave me wonderful books to read as a child, and she always believed in my writing ability – she still does at age 78! 

I write because it grounds me.

I write because the act of writing restores me to the self I was before a mental illness almost destroyed me.

I write to prove to myself that all the bipolar medications I’ve taken didn’t kill my creativity after all.

I write because writing has given me the opportunity to interview extraordinary people.  Before I was diagnosed with bipolar, I interviewed Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind.  My topic was about women, depression and exercise.  Thanks to her input, I sold my first magazine article. (Little did I know I would share the same diagnosis with her just a few years later)

I write because I can write, even after I had electricity pulse through my brain during two rounds of electroconvulsive treatments (ECT). My long-term memory is still intact, and the ECT helped me recover – I have no regrets.

I write because it stimulates some mysterious part of my brain and makes me feel better.

I write because it’s free therapy.

I write to share and connect with other people worldwide who have suffered like me.

I write to help other moms know they aren’t alone with their postpartum mood disorders.

I write because no one, not even bipolar disorder, can take away the fact that I’m a Writer.

The picture shows me with the Newbery Medal-winning author Madeleine L’Engle at her writing workshop in 1997.  Madeleine L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle In Time and over sixty other books.  Madeleine L’Engle is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I count spending time with this amazing writer as one of the most meaningful highlights of my life.

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