Writing & Mental Wellness, Part 1

Writing & Mental Wellness, Part 1

Mental wellness plagues society at large. Life is demanding and our resilience is low. The world asks a lot of us. Our families, our friends, our work. And even our passions.

We’re inundated with information 24/7 and have become addicted to social media. Mass media thrives on making us be afraid. We accept all this despite being demonstrably toxic. We cultivate a personal brand without realising it, painting an idealised version of ‘you’ to be consumed in the Newsfeed.

We all feed our demons. No one is immune. Not even you. You are vulnerable.

Writing is a solitary endeavour.

Writecraft is personal, as personal as it gets. It’s you, pouring your imagination on to the page. Your secret hopes and your darkest fears. All these and more, you willingly expose. We call it fiction. And it is. Mostly.

They say, “write what you know.” It’s terrible advice. Write what you want to know. Write what makes you uncomfortable. Write what terrifies you and makes your heart race, breathless and sweating. Write what pulls your guts apart and leaves you in emotional ruin.

Yes, there is a bit of sacrifice to writing. To writing well, anyway.

You want to share this with your readers, but that exposure is frightening as well. Did you write well? Did you tell a good story? Did your blood, sweat and tears mean anything?

Writing is a lonely craft. It’s an obsession, and not always a healthy one. It takes from you and leaves you empty. You fill up your life with joy and love, only to write it away as pain. And you do it over and over again. That’s the job.

It can wear on a person. You are always in danger of losing yourself.

Depression is a long-standing ailment of the writer. It’s almost cliche. Some turn to drink and other excesses. Others let their mental health spiral out of control. Relationships destroyed, lives lost. It seems that every writer finds their own dark night of the soul. Some push through it. Many do not.

And still, we join the mighty throng on social media, bleating and trying to rise above the din. We embrace the sickness of the social grid, because it is what we do now. It’s part of the job too.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can fight back. You can win back your soul.

  • Re-frame how you think about social media. It is a tool, an instrument of communication. It doesn’t define you.
  • Don’t let the world tell you to be afraid. Live your life.
  • Seek balance. Take care of your self. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re anxious, exercise. Recharge.
  • Don’t retreat. Socialise. Be present with people. Really present. Talk and listen.
  • Write. It’s what you do. Express all the good and bad. Get it out of your head. Keep what strengthens you. Let the rest slough off.
  • Smile. Laugh. Love.
Doug Langille
me@douglangille.ca

Husband, father, writer and shameless technophile.

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