Every so often, maybe even more often than not, you start to feel as though your writing capacity has dried up. You have no drive to fill the blank page and no imagination to feel inspired by.
Being in the wrong head space when you’re trying to write is like trying to hit a nail into a wall with your bare hand instead of a hammer. It hurts and it’s really not dramatic to say that the pain is both mental and physical.
You feel like you’re not good enough and you’re just so sick of not being able to write that it actually gives you a stress headache, maybe you start to feel sick and now you’re definitely not in a good head space to write so you just let your brain swallow you up into a cocoon of nothingness while you sit there in your own self loathing.
In reality, trying to describe the effect that poor mental health has on your writing is nowhere near as simple as that. It’s an in-exhaustive combination of states and feelings, and every day can be different but equally difficult to cope with.
Being stuck in that state of mind can make you feel like you’re merely existing, just scrapping the surface of your true potential and desires. It’s as though you can see what you want and where you want to be, but your hands and feet are pinned to the floor and all you can do is stare at the wall and think about how much you want to get up but you just cant.
This works the exact same way when it comes to picking up a pen to write. The thought is there, that itch, that need, but your hands stay slumped by your sides, pinned and static, no matter how hard the desire is.
The reason this reality becomes so unbearable is because of that little voice in your head that seems to take way too much pleasure in reminding you how much you’re failing and how worthless you are because you can’t even find the energy to do something that is supposed to be your passion.
So you sit there and think, “What’s the point?”
That’s when you need to take a step back and evaluate yourself because acknowledging that voice in your head is a definite step forward. Sometimes, poor mental can be a bit like the devil on your shoulder, feeding off your downfall and pushing you in the direction of self destruction.
Everyone has a devil on their shoulder, it’s completely normal, and equally everyone has the ability to overthrow their devil, but when it comes to mental health this process is far more complex because you can’t just think yourself better. Your personal treatment will depend entirely on the severity, and for a lot of people, finding their way out of a bad head space can take a lot of time and work. With that being said, one of the very first steps to take before going forward is to acknowledge that your poor mental health doesn’t define you (or, in the case of this blog post, your creative capability).
Something as simple as a daily mantra can help keep your thoughts in check and remind you not to slip too firmly into a negative head space. Perhaps even try pinning it to your wall in the spot where you do the main bulk of your writing?
Another thing is you should never undermine the power of music. There is no promise that it will make you feel better, but it’ll give your brain the opportunity to have something to engage with. The moment you start to feel yourself sink into that pit, put some music on – loud! The hardest part of this task is getting up to put your speakers on or to grab your headphones, after that you’re plain sailing.
Sit in the moment and just listen to the words, the beat, the melody. All these things coupled together should be enough to pull you – not out, but – into a state of mind which is just on the outskirts of that unhealthy head space. Just bare in mind that you’re still walking a tight rope at this moment, grazing between a state of going forward and self destruction. Slightly lose your footing and you’re back in that pit. If this happens its not the end of the world, you’re bound to slip up and that’s fine, just so long as you don’t give up and do your best to keep going forwards (literally, just go for a walk!). Each time you mess up don’t panic, take a breath and remind yourself of Mo Willems’ words; ‘If your find yourself in the wrong story, leave.’
Letting yourself be eaten up by your negative emotions and remaining passive about your mental health means that each chapter of your life will be just as negative as the last and you’ll never be able to leave. Reminding yourself to think positively is an active intention towards helping your own mental health which means that over time, you will have active results.
Actively take yourself away from a situation, perhaps just go for a walk along the seafront, listen to the waves crash and the stones crunch together beneath your feet. Fully engage with your surroundings, maybe you start to become really in tune with the different sound each sized stone makes when you walk on them. Maybe all you can think about are sounds and you start to become aware of the beach’s natural melody….maybe then you start to write.
Now you’re in the right story.
Yes it was difficult.
No, this doesn’t mean you’ll stay in the right story. Mental health is something that needs to be constantly balanced and nurtured.
But if you were able to leave the wrong story once, then you have the strength to do it again and again.
‘At first glance it may appear to be hard. Look again. Always look again.’
– Mary Anne Radmacher
Everything that has been written above is not a factual, one-shoe-fits-all account on mental health. It is a piece based on own experiences and barely scrapes the surface of the effect poor mental health can have an a person’s physical and emotional state. If you have concerns about your own mental health then I urge you to contact someone on the Mental Health Helpline – never try to work through it on your own.
Copyright: Laura Davis © 2017, all rights reserved.