Living the Dream Part 21 (Writing Is My Coping Technique)

Mental Health Awareness Month

I’m tying in this series to Mental Health Awareness Month as I feel the two are quite substantially linked. This series has always predominantly been about my writing and offering an update on how it’s going. In this edition, I’ll talk about why I write.

The reason only became clear to me once I was diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety disorder. I write as much and as often as I can, sometimes in times and places where it isn’t really convenient. It was easy for me to say I was obsessed and/or dedicated to my craft before I knew what was wrong. I now realise it runs much deeper than that.

In essence, writing is my crutch. It’s the thing that calms me down in a world that does nothing but create angst, guilt, despair, and a host of other negative sensations in my mind. It’s not only my way of making sense of life; it’s my way of escaping it entirely. When I write fiction, I’m visiting alternative worlds and realities that release me from this one. When I write non-fiction, I’m picking the bones of life apart and working it all out. Writing is the thing that keeps me from going crazy!

It pains me to say that life is hard when I’m a first world citizen with immediate access to food, water, electricity, a bed, money, and a tonne of trinkets that I rely on like they’re vital but really actually aren’t. I have it pretty damned good in comparison to billions of others out there.

Having said that, I don’t feel guilty for saying that life is hard. I don’t buy into the philosophy that I should be eternally grateful because someone always has it worse than I do. Somebody always has it better as well, so I’m justified not to be grateful by that yardstick. I think people are entitled to think what they think and feel what they feel. It’s nobody’s place to tell them they’re wrong for thinking or feeling anything. Besides, if we were all permanently satisfied with our lot then there’d be nobody pushing the boundaries and bettering themselves.

No, people of the first world are very entitled to think life is hard. They’re very entitled to feel down in the dumps about things. This is our way of life and we live it differently to those in the second and third world. That isn’t our fault and it’s nothing to feel guilty for. I appreciate that people in the third world don’t know where their next meal is coming from and don’t have clean water to drink. It’s truly awful and I wish that wasn’t how things were for them. I don’t, however, feel guilt derived from the fact that I have everything they might wish to have, nor do I feel guilt for the fact that I’ve succumbed to mental illness despite being a first world citizen.

Apologies for that segue. I felt it needed saying. Back to the case in point…

It’s always said that people who suffer from mental illnesses should find coping strategies, things that calm them down or raise their spirits. Writing has been my go-to for the last few years now. Sometimes music—listening or mixing—is the best relief. Seeing my son is always a good one too, although he can often promote anxiety as well because he’s absentminded and I genuinely fear he might wander in front of buses or whatever! There are other little things that can help aside from these, but writing is the number one. I’ve taken to doing it on the bus to and from work to ease my social anxiety and when I get downtime at work because work in itself is stressful.

I think the main reason I always find myself yearning for novel writing is because it gives a better opportunity to immerse myself in an alternative reality that I created and have control over. A lack of control in the real world is part of the cause for me slipping into mental health issues. Life seems to be about doing as I’m told and following rules whilst being told that I’m free to make my own choices and live the way I wish. The contradiction gets on my nerves! When I write, the rules, grammar aside, no longer apply. It’s my creation and I decide what’s going on. Nobody can tell me I’m not to do this or I must do that in my writing. If they did, I’d tell them where to go.

I don’t know what other people get out of writing. I’m sure we have our own personal journeys. There are probably those who write and don’t even like it at all. The craft does so much for me. It’s a task that soothes me when I’m not feeling great in my mind. It’s a way of creating things out of nothing. It’s a way of living an alternative life. It keeps my conscious mind active and feeds my subconscious mind. I enjoy it. I love it. It’s challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It can take a crappy day and turn it into one of great achievement and pride.

While I can write, I’ll always have a way of coping with my depression and anxiety. While I can write, I’ll always have a way of coping with whatever stresses and pressures that life and the mundane world around me can chuck at me. Writing is my coping technique, my lifesaver. I thank it for all it’s done for me and all it’ll continue to do.

For advice on how to find coping strategies for stress, anxiety, and depression, you may find the following links useful:

NHS Moodzone

ADAA tips and coping strategies

26 thoughts on “Living the Dream Part 21 (Writing Is My Coping Technique)

  1. Hi, Paul,

    First, I appreciate your segue (disclaimer?) about the tendency to compare our suffering to others; that was wondering I wrote about in my very first posts on my own blog, in an attempt to convince myself I deserved to be writing about my trials and experiences at all. I can also relate to the feeling that the act of writing keeps you sane; I have a hard time articulating my thoughts and feelings in speech unless it’s something I’ve already written about. I know it might seem out of character, but I’ll stumble and stutter trying to get across a new feeling, mixing my words and causing confusion. But, I feel, my writing is much clearer. Writing is an excellent tool for self discovery and expression. I’m glad it’s also like medicine for you. I used drawing in this way for a time but, nowadays, I feel like writing has taken over that role. I’m also starting to sense how the act of writing makes me feel connected to something deeper, to the larger world, even, by engaging with terrain others have traveled. And, like you mentioned, writing is portable, which is certainly a benefit. I’ve been appreciating switching my focus from drawing to writing lately, and I appreciate your perspective on the craft.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really struggle to articulate my feelings verbally. Writing is absolutely the best way for me to express myself. There is a certain freedom to it. I’m glad you’re beginning to experience that sensation too. Writing can be so rewarding if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Despite my disillusionment at my reader numbers dwindling, I do still feel that same sense of the world spinning more in a way I like it to when I’m tapping away at my keys. I can lose myself entirely in what I’m typing out on a document; even more so when writing on paper. I look forward to seeing how your newfound affinity for the craft goes for you. Thanks for taking a look at this post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always been envious of your ability and drive to write on a regular basis. Finding out what pushes your diligence is heartbreaking though. I agree and fully understand the sweet pull of a false reality. It does feel nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew you’d sympathise with that side of my writing just because of how expansively vivid your imagination is. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing. The whole process gives me a mental erection, from the planning to the final edit. It is a coping mechanism, but I think I’d do it as meticulously even if I wasn’t fighting mental demons. I’m envious of your talent full stop (period to you colonists 😉) and am frequently left in awe of your writing. You might be the best writer I’ve ever encountered and I mean that sincerely.


  3. Another really great post. I live in one of those third world countries, and a lot of us here have access to all those things we need (water, electricity, and such “luxuries” etc). It was a relief to read that someone else feels the same way I do about the whole “there’s others out there worse off”. Dammit, I’m allowed to feel screwed over and have bad days. After all, if those people who don’t have access to all these things we do and they suddenly had access to all of that, I can bet that after a few years they’ll also find that it’s not all sunshine and roses from our sides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, abso-bloody-lutely! That is 100% how it would happen. You appreciate something only for so long until you realise there’s a whole lot more available and want that instead. It’s human nature to want more and no way should we feel bad for that. It’s the people above us in the food chain who try to convince us we should be eternally grateful for the little we have, even feel guilty for it like we expect too much. Off you fuck! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. I find writing very empowering and therapeutic because as you say, it gives a sense of full control when the outside world is anything but controlled. I’m so glad you have writing. It’s something I’m really grateful to have to 🙂 Also it means I get to virtually meet interesting humans and get a window into their alternate minds. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As much as blogging frustrates me from the perspective that it seems to have become another avenue for trite social media crap, it has been rewarding in the respect that I’ve been able to write so many varied things and meet a host of fantastic people, present company very much included.


      1. It does increase flexibility I think and reactions from readers spur you on to write more I think, reinforcing habits and encouraging new areas for exploration. Blogger friendships are ACE as you connect on a deeper mind level which is absent from usual small talk in company with generic humans.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes to all of that. Let’s be honest, people nowadays are very deflating in general. They all talk about the same shit, are into the same shit, and don’t deviate from their safe little bubbles with very few exceptions to the rule. Blogging is a great way to discover people who push the boundaries a little and aren’t merely satisfied with the abovementioned shit.


      3. Yep. I seek a meaningful life on a higher plane than generic predictable shitness. I’m aware that sounds grandiose, but it isn’t meant to be…to some I am perhaps beneath them, or to the side. It’s all about perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. No, I know what you mean. People probably consider me as thinking I’m above them, especially as I’m very quick to discredit most of the things the masses like. It isn’t true though. I believe in equality across the board. I have many friends who are into things I consider shit. The shit they’re into doesn’t make them the person they are. Being a fan of X Factor, which I find to be a shit-smear on modern existence, doesn’t mean that person is immediately someone I can’t associate with.


      5. Haha!! Fucking hell last weekend I was at one of those trampoline parks…Jesus Christ! What a horrible invention they are 😂😂🙈

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I bet there is! I never pay to bounce…just the kids. It’d probably be fun to actually join in and not just sit in the horrible cafe for other parents with headaches 😁😂


  5. I started writing to escape a bad relationship. I didn’t realize until years later (from the mouth of my counselor) that writing was my coping mechanism. We all have a happy place, mine is writing.
    As usual, you’ve written a wonderful post, and I love how you called attention to the fact that it’s okay to feel bad, depressed, or down, even as a first world citizen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m delighted you picked up writing as a coping mechanism whether knowingly or not: 1, because you’re a fabulous writer; 2, because you’ve found your niche. In some ways, you can even thank your ex for it.

      No way should anyone EVER be made to feel guilty for feeling low irrespective of their lot in life. That’s not how life works. It’s entirely up to you what you feel low and what you feel grateful for.


  6. Same. I too have GAD and Depression (as well as PTSD) and writing is a big stress reliever/calmer for me. While I do like writing fiction, it helps me sort my thoughts and feelings a lot too to write about what is actually happening or bothering me in the moment too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both styles have their uses. Writing and learning about mental health issues has opened my eyes so much. I realise just how harmful stigma is now. I also realise that it’s a much bigger problem than I first anticipated. Like, it’s so largely ignored. That concerns me a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s getting more and more attention these days, but there are definitely needs for awareness… I’ve heard Britain is especially lagging in this area too sooo…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, absolutely. It’s like I mentioned in the post, ‘Keep calm and carry on’ is a very often used platitude in this country thanks to the propaganda used in WWII. It’s been spun out again in recent years, probably as a media and government ploy to instil national pride and urge people to get on with their shit lives without complaint. Not only do people think themselves weak for talking about problems, but others are quick to judge those who do talk because they’re searching for sympathy. It’s a paradox that’s proving tough to break down in this country. I, as usual, am here to unbalance the equilibrium!

        Liked by 1 person

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