The Best Gift I Gave To Myself As A Writer With Trauma And Mental Health Issues

Posted by Sandhya Sriram in Mental Health
July 27, 2017

My Tale. My Truth. My Trauma.

As a writer wanting to spread mental health awareness, my journey has been rather funny. Only when you broach the topic on the ‘D’ word and the ‘A’ word do you realize how weak the understanding is even among your own peers. No one generally likes to hear about depression or anxiety. Nobody likes to talk about it. Most people either think that it is ‘lecture time’ or that you’re whining about your life. Lately, I have come to realize that there are a lot of people who do not intend to be rude but they just don’t get it.

One of my friends behaved exactly that way.

He said, “I don’t get it. I am a rational person. I understand that one can be sad for a while after something happens but if they remain in the dark pit for long instead of fighting to get out of it, then it is their choice. They are being a loser. I don’t get it!”

He sounded way too genuine. He is smart and usually kind. However, he said that no matter how hard he tried, (for the sake of his partner who has clinical depression) he isn’t able to connect to the core problem.

For someone like me who has, until very recently kept her trauma and mental health issues swept under the carpet, I now find it too hard to sugarcoat my words. Over the past year, my writing style has been more direct and even harsh sometimes. I can’t get through an article without my peers telling me that it is too dark and they are unable to connect to it. Some of my friends don’t even read my blog posts anymore.

They’ve said,You are a wonderful writer, no doubts about that. But I get disturbed. So I don’t read them anymore”

This just frustrates me further. I refuse to put a floral image in place of my raw darkness just so that I don’t ‘trigger others’ or so that I don’t come across as someone that’s too aggressive and dramatic. It gets lonely when at every chance people get, they tell you that no matter how hard they try, they don’t get you.

Last night I attended a workshop that was about developing ways to express our mental health through writing. It was one of the best workshops I’ve been to this year. It began with a bunch of exercises like writing your own alien language and using that to communicate with fellow aliens, narrating your life story in 45 seconds (and then discovering which moments do we consider the key ones).

For the last exercise, we did something that I’m quite sure we’ve all done at school at some point. There were three objects in front of us. We were supposed to pick one object and narrate its life from its point of view. We could give it a name, we could make it interact with other objects in the room or we could simply look at it as a stand alone object.

Each story that came out of this exercise was beyond brilliant. One might think that each participant would have narrated their own stories through these objects (a fair assumption and possibility). Some did.

However, one thing to note is that most of us know our lives not as a story but as an emotion. I personally look at my life as a cluster of emotions orbiting around each other and around time. They are so tangible that I’ve drawn them on a sheet of paper and color-coded my emotions depending on the phase of my life.

This is what came out in the object exercise yesterday. We simply take a subset of this cluster and attach it to objects as we carve our narration. Before I knew it, bam! I’d found a new medium to express myself.

I am convinced that this isn’t any sugar coating. This is what I call my safe spot. I realized that over the past year in an attempt to get my message across to people whose ignorance frustrated me I only ended up being scarred.

I thought that the best gift I could give myself was the freedom to express. But last night I learnt that the best gift I could give myself is the freedom to say no to expressing my opinion when it gets too much for me.

To all the other writers out there, I want to say that things are bound to get intense. But, don’t let the darkness consume you to the extent that you forget to light the candles or worse, forget how to light the candles.

Find your safe spot.

Your message will eventually get through. However, the process is important. It needs to be both liberating and healing, don’t you agree?