On Writing, My New Exercise

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I experienced some depression and anxiety last year.  I'm still processing it, but I felt like I was in a bit of a fog.  Not that I didn't enjoy life, but I had a hard time feeling fully present in my life.

When I was feeling anxious and depressed, I got both insecure in my writing and in what people would think of me, as well as had a hard time focusing on what I wanted to say.  I suspected just doing the tough work of actually writing without censoring myself would help me find the words, but it felt a little overwhelming... as many things can when you're feeling a little down.  Knowing how I feel about life's circumstances and having clarity are important to me.  Writing often gets me to that point or at least to a point that allows me to be okay with the uncertainty.  

Sometimes when I want to write but I'm not exactly clear on the what part, I imagine all the words floating around, and I wish they would connect with my brain.  As if I could hold every single word tightly clutched in my hands, my fingers slowly and delicately, one by one, lifting up and then down again to make sure no words slipped out.  Until I needed some of those words.  And then I could just gently raise up my arms, open my hands, and they would float up and form exactly what I wanted to express, about whatever I was experiencing.  So magic, apparently I wish I was magic.  And although that would make the process much easier, I'm not sure it would really be better.  For me, that hard part --the part where I have to figure out what is itching my brain and what I want to write about it-- is the the part that makes me more aware to my surroundings.  It makes me search for the words that might bring understanding to all that's going on, both right in front of my eyes, and then also the happenings that are slowly brewing underneath the surface and all around, waiting to peak out from here or there to present themselves.

I've been feeling so much better in the last month, and I think it's due to a variety of reasons.  I was diligent with doctors and counseling appointments before the holidays, my arthritis finally feels more under control again, and I've been writing regularly.  And now that I'm writing more, I need it more.  (Although, it's also true that as my Dad and I always used to say about running... I don't always love writing and definitely have trouble getting started, but I love having written.)  So when I start to feel like I haven't done enough in 2015, I remind myself that I'm writing more, little by little.  And that's good for me.  Which lets me be good to others.  

I'm not suggesting that I'm replacing actual physical exercise with writing.  Ugh, running and stretching and all that are some of the things I still need to work on.  But what I am saying is that I have come to realize that I must treat writing as something as important as physical exercise.  It strengthens my mind and my fingers, it helps me focus and think clearly, it elevates my mood.  It's fun, I like it.  I'm trying to do better about acknowledging the things that are good for me and I enjoy, but that I have always dismissed in the past because they don't clean the house or do the laundry, they don't take care of my kids or cook dinner.  What things are good for you that you don't allow yourself to count?  Let's start letting those things count.  I think we'll all feel better.  And in turn, hopefully do better... in our jobs, in our homes, in our world.


  1. I'm grateful for your words here. I've had this post open in a tab on my screen for the last few days, working up the courage to read it. I am dealing with writing in the middle of a mild depression and your thoughts and example are an encouragement to me.

    1. Laura, thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad this was an encouragement to you. I've certainly found writing to be therapeutic and am hoping it will be for you too :)



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