Tuesday, Dec 7, 2021

How writing helped me heal from pain to pride

Journaling allowed me to come to terms with my bipolar diagnosis, understand my mood swings, accept my past, and reconcile my current self with my..

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Journaling allowed me to come to terms with my bipolar diagnosis, understand my mood swings, accept my past, and reconcile my current self with my dreams for the future.


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I’ve been through some stuff. I’ve faced childhood trauma, the sudden loss of a parent, and a lifelong battle with bipolar disorder.

Through everything, writing has helped me cope. It kept me grounded when I felt like the world was upside-down. Instead of bottling up emotions, I’ve recorded them, which has been cathartic and freeing.

In addition to treatment and self-care, journaling has helped me through the toughest of challenges.

The Many Faces of Bipolar Disorder

My dad struggled with bipolar disorder. He was often depressed and distant. He lived in the same house with me and my mom, but he was never truly present. He’d lock himself in his bedroom for days, then explode in angry outbursts.

I was left confused, wounded, and yearning for his affection. I felt unloved.

Trying to make sense of my dad’s volatility, I often blamed myself. I thought if I could just be the “perfect” daughter, then he’d love me. I was broken and needy. I became a girl with “daddy issues.”

To add insult to injury, I struggled with inexplicable mood swings of my own. I was frenetic and unbalanced. My mind was racing a mile a minute. I jumped between jobs, apartments, relationships, even sexual identities.

By the time I was in my twenties, I was delusional and hearing voices.

In 1998, my dad lost his battle with bipolar depression. I felt abandoned. His death triggered my first major depression, and I was diagnosed with bipolar as well.

My heart sank. There was no denying it: I had the same mental health condition that took my dad from me. A bipolar diagnosis suddenly felt like a death sentence.

Coming to Terms with a Diagnosis of Bipolar

With the help of my mom (who’s a psychotherapist) and my treatment team, I learned as much as I could about bipolar disorder. I read self-help books voraciously, educating myself on mania and depression.

My therapist suggested I write down my thoughts and feelings, so I started journaling. I released my fear and frustration and anger and sadness until my hand hurt from writing.

I filled six notebooks with stories from my life, and I began seeing them with new eyes. I recognized many of my dad’s (and my own) behaviors in the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Eventually, I came to terms with my diagnosis, which helped me understand my dad for the first time.

We had the same mood disorder, but with different faces: My bipolar made me hyperactive and reckless. My dad’s illness made him disconnected and sullen.

When I realized how powerful and all-consuming mental illness can be, I understood that my dad’s erratic hostility was no more his fault than it was mine. My writing journey helped me forgive my dad for all the times he’d hurt me.

Setting Down the Pen & Losing Touch

Convinced I was “fixed,” I moved on with my life. I put my journals away, assuming I no longer needed them. However, despite all my newfound knowledge, I still hadn’t addressed those “daddy issues.”

Once I stopped writing, I forgot to listen to my inner voice. I lost touch with myself, and because of that I kept choosing the wrong men as romantic partners.

When I was 35, I met a guy who paid more attention to me than any man ever had. In the beginning of our relationship, he doted on me. I’d never felt so special.

Because I desperately needed validation from men, I failed to notice that, as time went on, he was also becoming controlling. But by then it was too late—I was hooked. And I married him.

By the time I was 38, my marriage had become downright abusive. I spiraled down into a severe bipolar depression that nearly ended me. Luckily, I survived and was admitted into an inpatient mental health institution.

Upon discharge, I promised myself I’d never go back. I’d made the same mistake my dad had, but I had a second chance at life. I vowed not to squander it.

Writing for Mental Health, Myself, & Others

I bought new notebooks and started journaling again. I felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in ages. I poured out feelings of worthlessness, examining my sense of self, my struggles, and the complicated influence of my father’s life and death.

Writing helped me finally face my demons. I began a journey of recovery by finally coming to terms with who I was and reconciling it with who I wanted to become.

Writing down my story helped me confront the trauma I’d endured. My past was a learning experience that made me resilient. Journaling gave me the strength to leave my husband and put myself back together. I emerged from a long, dark tunnel that seemed, at times, to have no light at the end.

Over the years, I kept writing. Originally, it was purely therapeutic—not meant for anyone but me to read. Then, one day, I realized that my story might inspire hope for others who were struggling like I had been.

So, I dedicated myself to mental health advocacy and began writing for several national mental health publications, as well as my own blog.

By 2018, I’d written so much that I had a book on my hands! I’d turned the pain of my past into a huge accomplishment I could be proud of; my memoir, Daddy Issues, was published earlier this year.


Originally posted October 26, 2021

The post From Pain to Pride: How Writing Helped Me Heal appeared first on bpHope.com.

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By: Carrie Cantwell
Title: From Pain to Pride: How Writing Helped Me Heal
Sourced From: www.bphope.com/blog/from-pain-to-pride-how-writing-helped-me-heal/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2021 13:00:00 +0000
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