I am nothing but a stuck record when it comes to writing these words, “it has been some time since I last wrote…”. So let me take a moment of your time whilst you read this on the tube, the bus or the throne.
When I began writing a journal of sorts years ago it was part poetry, part brain dump and 100% therapy. It was my way of dealing with my depression even before I knew it by that name. To me the voice of disparagement that grew vicious from time to time was one I hated, yet knew like a friend. It gripped me in a darkness that I hid from the world, a place that almost became permanent on more than one occasion.
Yet as bad as that was it drove me to prove it wrong, to quell its doubt and that spurred me to challenge myself in life. Putting that aside for another time it was actually the gift of writing that I am most grateful for. Having been a prolific daydreamer from a very young age I needed some outlet for my dark thoughts, some cathartic means to express the darkness. For most restless boys the normal approach was (and maybe still is) to tire them out with sport, to get them socialising with other kids, above all else to distract them. It took me many years of my own self exploration to realise that not only do I lean to the introvert side of the personality slider, but that I care more for the creative, quiet time alone than I do for the team activities. It took me longer still to realise that enjoying art in its many forms is ok and if anything I am still learning that.
Why am I writing about this you may think? Well I have been reminded of how useful a good brain dump is by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. Thanks to my friend Jonno I have felt a kind of justification for my years of blog writing, mad midnight scrawls in notebooks and poetry that skirted a myriad of subjects. For me it feels a little like coming home reading that book and so I felt compelled to write this small piece. I also feel that we are so caught up in talking about our problems that we miss one of the simplest tools, literally at our fingertips. I know many people don’t like their hand writing or feel put off by anything that involves a moment alone with their thoughts. I get that. But the beauty of the “morning pages” exercise in Cameron’s book is the scribble and forget attitude she applies to it. She gives the reader permission to write that stream of consciousness that has been haunting them minute after minute for days on end. To get it physically out of their system and onto the paper and then forget about it. In fact she advises you not to read those morning pages, nor to show anyone else. Just to let the dam open and jump in a speedboat off to your day.
It’s funny as I read that back. I was asked today as part of my work what my passion is. I honestly struggle with a truthful answer to this question a lot. Depression and anxiety have taken a lot of joy out of my life over the years. At 36 I feel like I used up my excitement for most things in my twenties and now I’m just trying to fend off cynicism and most people from day to day! In the end when I stood up in front of that work group I just came back to mental health. I told the people present that I am passionate about mental health and in particular writing about it. It may not be sexy or exciting, but it’s the dog’s honest truth (I meant that.) So to end this rambling post of writing I would just encourage anybody that is in a difficult spot to turn to a creative pastime. Go way back to a time when you were a kid and painted crap pictures, sewed badly and made awful music, but throughout it you had a smile on your face. Then use that thing to help yourself. You don’t need to be “good”, you don’t need to show anyone, you just need to let all that shit out. (If you are reading this from Australia, check your local Coles before following that last advice.)
Until next time, get dumping.