Expressing our inner questions: Writing and reading as therapy
Writing was something I started as a very young girl.
I could read when I was four and my earliest journals started after my best friend was killed in a fire when I was five, he was only six. That was not something I could make sense of. I wrote from the age of five on about events or feelings I needed to work through or couldn’t understand.
It was a real blessing that I was able to read at four because that was when my mother became abusive with me in earnest. Books have been an escape for me since then, and a fantastic source of information and support.
I remember waking up early and running down to the kitchen and getting a bowl of cereal, bringing it up to my room and curling back up in bed with a book. I read for so long that I’d hear the church bells ring from the church up our street. I used to love that ritual, and did it many times because I remember opening one of my windows so I could hear the bells more clearly. They were always hopeful for me.
And so it is no surprise that I’m a writer and editor. What else would I be after all? Considering how words have helped me make it through my life. Oh, I’ve tried other things: secretary, waitress, sales person. But they haven’t stuck because I always come back to words.
I write every day at least once in my journal, I write this blog, I’m working on a book (or at least trying to) and I edit freelance as well. I am going to start looking for freelance writing work too. Sometimes it comes to me, but I’d like to do it regularly. I find reaching out to people through social media very fulfilling.
It has opened up an avenue to share myself with people that didn’t exist when I was younger.
I have recently been reading Kelly Brogan’s book A Mind of Your Own and watching her videos. I am one of the few people who truly benefited from taking an antidepressant. As soon as I started taking it I could feel my mind stop racing, my nausea abating and my anxiety slowly lessening. But at the time I was already following a reduced diet because I’d developed temporary allergies from having gallbladder disease. After my gallbladder was removed I changed my diet for a year to eliminate the allergies. It worked.
What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. And I don’t eat dairy because I’m intolerant (though sometimes I cheat and eat a slice of pizza or a small ice cream cone). But Kelly Brogan needed to change her diet to feel healthy again and I respect that.
What I’m interested in is her discussion about childhood abuse and depression because for me I know there’s a definite link. What my mother did was bullying and gaslighting, which for a four-year-old girl is more than devastating.
Gaslighting is a form of intimidation or psychological abuse, sometimes called Ambient Abuse where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity. The classic example of gaslighting is to switch something around on someone that you know they’re sure to notice, but then deny knowing anything about it, and to explain that they “must be imagining things” when they challenge these changes.
A more psychological definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim–having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused and less able to trust their own memory and perception.
I got these definitions from the Urban Dictionary.
And that was my young life. So no wonder reading and writing were such a solace to me. I could express myself freely in my journal, one of the only places I felt safe and I could live through other people through all the books I read and loved.
As I got older I was drawn to the self-help books that started me on my journey to healing. I have read so many and they’ve all helped me the way I needed help at different points in my life.
I just finished A Mind At Home With Itself by Byron Katie. An absolutely life-changing book that has affected me so profoundly in every way, but especially in the way I treat and perceive myself, and therefore, of course, others.
I am almost finished The Proof by James Twyman. The first time I picked that up I could only get about halfway through, but I am almost finished so I’m going to make it this time.
I also picked up Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life a while ago and again got halfway through. It’s likely time I started that one again. I have come a long way and the books that threatened me before are now speaking to me. I love that!
I often find books just at the right time. I can’t always read them through the first time, but I come back to them and they heal me eventually.
So I am very fortunate to have found Kelly Brogan. In a way I feel like she’s taking up the mantel for women’s health similarly to what Christiane Northrup did. And I know Christiane totally helped me with decisions in my life, and she still does.
I love that Kelly Brogan is coming from a psychological point of view towards women’s health, and people’s health in general that gives alternatives to drugs and helplessness. I know after I had my breakdown I wondered if I’d ever be able to support myself and my son again, I felt as if I’d lost it and wasn’t sure I could get it back.
That’s what books do they give you the wisdom from other people’s experiences and minds. And I’m so thankful for the role of writing and editing in my life.
It is the person I’ve always been and am meant to be. I love that, and through reading and writing I give my contribution to my world.
As Jesus said, “Be in this world, but not of this world.”
He would’ve been a book lover, I just know it!
From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
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