Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop, held online.
• Write a list of 10 things that you want to remember during difficult times.
- You are loved.
- Explore, then cuddle afterwards.
- Keep making lists of the things you’re grateful for.
- Give yourself a break.
- Be patient, it will come.
- Keep your head up.
- You aren’t alone.
- You got this.
- It will be ok.
• What items do you find comforting? Why do you think that is? What places do you find comforting?
My bed is comforting. I have outfitted it with sheets and blankets I love, far more pillows than I need, and a mattress so big that it fits me.
My meditation space is comforting. It has books that fill me, incense and candles that smell nice, things to keep my hands busy so I can let go, and pillows to let me rest.
Ferry Bar Park is comforting. I go out there, tilt the chair back in my Element, roll down the windows, and just let the wind and the waves carry me away.
• What secrets are you keeping? Are these secrets affecting your mental health? Why or why?
I hold on to things. Things people say in passing, things people say to me directly, things I hear said about me… I hold on to them forever. And I’ll bring them out and squeeze them as hard as I can, until they dig into me and hurt me again.
I’m getting a lot better at letting it go and not harping on these things, but they hurt. I have a general aura of aloofness and of being happy-go-lucky, but I remember these things and I have a hard time letting them go.
Some things were said to me by family, some were said to me by people I was in relationship with. Some of the things have absolutely zero basis in fact at all, and were said just in an argument or just as a way to hurt me. But I’ll still wonder “what if…”
It is devastating for my mental health. Because it because really difficult to move on and grow. But I’m making progress on it, bit by bit.
• What has surprised you most about 2020? What can you learn from it? What have you learned from it?
I think I was surprised most by how much people were still there to support and be there for me, despite the pandemic, despite how down and out I was for the previous two years. The pandemic didn’t stop people from loving me, and it has encouraged me to keep going.
• What has anxiety taught you about yourself?
Anxiety is not something I felt I had a lot of experience with. I knew people who had anxiety, who were scared of trying new things, who were scare of their shadows, who were just generally scared of life. But I didn’t feel that way, so I figured I didn’t have anxiety. I was fearless, nothing frightened me. I would dive directly into things that I was afraid of.
But when I had kids, I felt such a weight of responsibility constantly that I felt like it would crush me. I had to make enough money to buy enough food. To pay the mortgage. To pay the utility bills. All during a recession.
I felt trapped, and as my marriage failed over and over again, anxiety crept in. It manifested itself not as fear and apprehensiveness, but as anger and rage. My health took a nosedive. I considered dark thoughts that normally I wouldn’t even approach. I had panic attacks, I went to the ER for bizarre things that would happen to my body.
Anxiety taught me that ignoring problems wasn’t any type of solution, and that my mental health was the first thing I needed to take care of, not the last.