Writing and How it Can Help Us Overcome Pain and Trauma in Our Lives

Trauma, however it comes to us, however we are touched by it, is an emotional upheaval.

This is why writing is one of the most popular go-to creative outlets for recovering from trauma and why the power of the written word is recognised as a mighty, yet gentle, way to take back some control. After all, to write we only need a pad of paper and a pen, a tablet or computer. We can write anywhere. We can write anything. The point is just to be writing about something. We can write for five minutes or we can write for hours at a time. Some people have sworn that days of writing have been their saviour and kept them sane at a time when nothing seemed to make sense.

Writing is cathartic. When you are in that stage of free flow, when your pen is being pushed by the words which seemingly flow from your mind to your page, that is when the recovery starts to happen. The pen is the sword and the words your shield. There is something quite freeing when you're writing for yourself knowing no one else will read your words. You can say exactly what you feel and say it the way you want without fear of offending or upsetting anyone else. 

Journalling our thoughts and our every day experiences is not a new idea.

I used to write a diary as a girl and so did many of my friends. Pretty diaries with tiny little locks and keys and covered in stickers warning adults to STAY OUT is something so many of us in our fifties can relate to. And when times hit hard, we tend to want to go back to the comfort of happier days, where we were free and able to express ourselves without the fear of being judged. Writing in a book, writing about negative life experiences has the power to heal. Words people use in their writing also become a valued keepsake, a reminder of what was and how what is necessary to enable closure. 

The idea that this simple act of expressive writing can benefit healing and act as therapy towards the healing process is a trending phenomenon; whether dealing with grief, a particularly rough time, suffering some guilt, or real heartache. Writing takes us away, writing is a healer.

Psychologically and emotionally, having somewhere to contain our thoughts and feelings, even if it is in a book, means we have a vent, an outlet for all the turbulent emotions, thoughts and feelings. It means that instead of constantly feeling pain and shame, humiliation, trauma or panic we start to heal and we start to forgive ourselves.

Processing what we've been through.

This type of guided, detail-focused writing -- you could call it a guided journal for recovery -- can not only help us process what we’ve been through. It can also help us as we look for and forge a new, different way forward. Writing it out can lower our blood pressure, strengthen our immune systems, and increase our general well-being.

Research suggests that expressive writing can result in a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression; improve our sleep and performance; and bring us greater focus and clarity. The process of writing basically helps us to unjumble the thoughts and feelings crowding our heads so that we can move forward feeling stronger and more positive about what will inevitably be a new and possibly uncertain future. 

The act of writing gets everything out of our heads and onto paper and can help us process things more rationally and at a more intuitive rather than emotionally hurt space. 

I wrote my first novel, ten years after the traumatic breakdown of my marriage which consequently left me with three young children to bring up, a house to pay for so as to keep a roof over our heads and a new career to focus on. It was a lot. I didn't have time to process what had happened to me until many years later, another difficult life situation forced me to take a step back. I was near burn out. I needed an outlet; the healing power of writing, It was a creative writing class that coincidentally gave me the time I needed to think things through. I'm astounded that as time went on, the writing I did there became more than therapy. The writing group and the effects of writing there gave me the basis of my debut novel.

I had been holding onto a lot of baggage and though I had managed to keep going for the sake of my children and to keep life as normal for them as possible, I had neglected myself in that time, not physically, but emotionally. Writing the book helped, it saved me.

Writing workshops, writing prompts and writing as a way of living again.

Find something to channel your trauma and emotional upheaval. Look for therapeutic journal writing, healing through writing is real. Once you are in the flow, decide what kind of writing you would like to continue writing because I know that you will want to. For me, the buzz of writing became a part of me and I wanted to write all the time. I penned poetry and verses, I wrote down my thoughts and took a course. Writing may heal you. Writing may bring you to another place of healing. 

I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what has worked for you. Sharing out stories makes us stronger and many experts show that writing heals us. I hope it heals you too. 

Until next time, stay safe and stay well. Love Soulla x

Author: Soulla Christodoulou