Writing saved my life.
When I was young I had no one to talk to, because no one spoke my language. One parent always worked, and another decided I was too inconvenient to remain in the state with. I didn’t make friends easily, if at all. I had too much to talk about that no one my age could relate to.
I was obsessed with reading, and had a higher verbal I.Q. than most of my peers and some of my instructors. That’s not bragging, I was tested and measured at 132.
I had a habit of telling tall tales, and embellishing on reality until it became something more. When students were given assignments to write stories, mine stood out for clarity and scope.
I’ve just found out I’ve had PTSD for most of my life, as a child and adult. It had gone undocumented, untreated, and ignored for twenty years. It’s no wonder I couldn’t make friends. I couldn’t trust or relate. I would extend too much of myself or none at all. Little things could make me shut the door on friendships quickly and permanently.
I’ve had one lifelong friend: the English language. I couldn’t call my mind a friend, despite all the stories it gave me. I became a writer because I spent most of my life disassociating. I was as far away from my life and body as a human being could get, which explains why real people could rarely reach me.
Writing was my healthiest method of disassociation, and I highly recommend it. I found other ways that weren’t so healthy, but we’re not going to go into that.
Writing gave me a goal.
I loved seeing my work published for the first time when I was seventeen. Throughout my early twenties, even when in the midst of making my worst decisions, experiencing publication and receiving reviews for the only work I took real pride in gave me something to look forward to when I was otherwise mentally absent. I disassociated from my work and relationships, but when I was alone, I lived. I lived on paper. I lived online…
…even when living felt impossible.
For the last few years I’ve experienced suicidal ideation. I reached a point where I could no longer function without help. My illness became apparent to those around me, especially as I tried to engage in full time school and full time work. I was weighted with exhaustion, my moods swung, and I forgot everything. I could no longer take care of myself. My mind drifted repeatedly to the idea of what it would be like to truly rest – to not worry, not rush, not endure.
In those times, writing classes helped. It gave me gaps in time to focus on and explore my thoughts, feelings, imaginings, and connections. For a few years I had lost the habit of writing every day because of all my work. I had to squeeze it back in spaces I could fit it. Part of what held me together this semester was a Writing for Media class, where I learned script format. I could only write horror and tragedy at first, but my professor pushed me by assigning me a comedy. It was a dark comedy, because that’s all I could do at the time, but it kept me engaged in my studies through the agonizingly slow process of the psychological evaluation my school’s Student Disability Service arranged.
I now have my official diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and people at my school and work suddenly treat me better than I remember. It makes me wonder why kindness and consideration aren’t used as preventative measures. Why is it only present as policy when someone is already ill?
I have accommodations from the school and a mediator for meetings to help reduce my stress and anxiety. That doesn’t make me magically optimistic. I’m not particularly trusting of sudden kindness. I also don’t know if I can pay my rent, if I’ll graduate, or if I’ll find employment that offers a living wage.
I just know that even if I live under a bridge, I’ll write. I write because it reminds me there’s something that fills the shell I live in. It makes me grateful for my appendages and mind. It taught me courage when I felt robbed of it, and redefines me daily when the world tries to write me into unfit roles.
If you ever feel alone, or feel like you have no one in the world to talk to, try writing. I highly recommend it.