Emotions are finicky things. Over the years, I have found my go-to method for dealing with my roller coaster emotions is to put pen to paper.
Anxiety is not fun to deal with, as you have probably already figured out. There are many things I have tried over the years to help me alleviate the buzzing in my mind. When I was younger, I found it difficult to verbalize the emotions I experienced at any given moment. Mostly out of fear of what others might say if I spoke up. My words were usually met with a sharp hand. I never failed to say the wrong thing. Eventually, I learned writing my thoughts down made me feel more in control, and less misunderstood.
Writing relieves my anxiety by doing 4 things:
- It helps me organize my thoughts.
- It helps me to express my thoughts and emotions.
- It teaches me to articulate more effectively.
- It relieves stress.
To me, writing is the most therapeutic way for me to decompress after a stressful day or encounter. I found that just picking up a pen is the only way to quiet the thoughts ricocheting off the boney walls of my cranium. I wish I could say writing came naturally, but it didn’t. I’ve written some cringe worthy things over the years. Many lessons were learned, along with bridges burned.
Organizing My Thoughts
When I start writing, the first thing I do is figure out what it is I want to say. If I don’t know what it is I want to say, then I am not going to be able to get my point across very effectively. I learned this the hard way. (Perception is not easily controlled)
One of the ways I organize my thoughts is by writing out the main points I’m trying to make. If it is for a story, I figure out my plot. If it is for an article, I find a question I want to answer and ask it. I haven’t always been good at asking the right questions, so I pick several different questions before settling on the right one.
Over the years I have gotten better at narrowing down topics and rooting out answers but it has taken the better part of my adult life to get to this point. (I’ve had my own brick walls to tear down over the years, and it has made me late to the party in a lot of respects.)
Emotions are a tricky thing. They kind of edge their way into every conversation. At least the conversations worth having. This poses a problem for me in many situations, because I struggle to hide my emotions behind a facade.
My eyes always give me away, or at least that is what my Grandmother always told me. Being on the spectrum, I had very little impulse control and filter. I pretty much just said whatever popped in my mind. Which lead to so many awkward situations over the years.
On more than one occasion, my granny would simply shoot me a look and I instantly knew to keep my thoughts to myself. I have strong opinions about everything, even back then, and developing a filter was an excruciating process. Writing has proven the most useful tool for me, simply because I have the luxury of editing, and rephrasing, before presenting myself. Which has alleviated so much anxiety over the years.
Improving My Articulation
My ability to articulate has been greatly improved over the years due to my writing. As I said earlier, my emotions often get the best of me, and I can sort of overload, and simply just shut down. Effectively ending a conversation. It is my default setting, and one I am not proud of.
When you are formulating an idea for a project, you have to take the time to look at the whole picture, not just the minute details. When building a story, I have learned to look deeper than the surface of the character. Build on top of a solid foundation, and add layers. Dig deep, find the root of the issue and unravel it from there, then put it back together again, but this time better.
It’s A Slow Process
Over the years, I have learned to take a step back and weight a situation. Make a list. Take notes. Take the time to actually form an entire picture before trying to get others to see what I am trying to show them. Each lesson I learn in my writing, I apply in my verbal communication skills. Real-world application, for my analytical mind. I have found taking the time to listen before reacting has had a positive effect on my anxiety levels, especially since Covid-19 had locked the world down.
Trying to articulate when I need space, in terms that a six-year-old can understand has become the new norm for me. Learning to listen to him patiently, as he learns to navigate his own emotions. Teaching him how to step back, and walk him through his own process. Teaching him how to share his thoughts in a way that helps us to understand him. Communicating with him is so much different than communicating with my older children.
Relieving My Stress
When I was little, I had a therapist whom I saw once a week. My early childhood left some nasty scars and infected wounds. At 11 years old, I met Gretchen. She asked me a lot of questions. Questions I found quite odd at the time, but as I think back on it, they made sense. She was trying to get an image of what my life was like, before. I didn’t like the way she poked around in my life, made me think about things I didn’t want to remember. Pushing too hard made me shut down.
I won’t go into details, but she was the first person to suggest It might be easier for me to tell my story If I wrote it down first. I would like to say that was the start of an amazing writing career, but alas, I didn’t fully realize my passion until much later in life.
What it did do for me is start me on my journey of learning to articulate my feelings to the people in my life, and help me heal many old wounds. It was a painful, and bloody process. Where I closed one wound, I opened another. It seemed to be a never-ending cycle. It took me a long time to realize the fine art of editing before sending. I failed more than succeeded in being tactful; there is an art to writing eloquently. I wasn’t blessed with that gift and had to work long and hard to cultivate it.
Eventually, I got to the core of it and removed the infection. Writing taught me to look at all sides of the story. It has given me an outlet for my obsessive nit-picking tendencies. Now that all those wounds have faded into scars, I am able to utilize a hard-earned life skill and slowly realized passion.
What started out as a way for me to combat my demons, and learn to cope and communicate with the world around me, slowly became a calling, and dare I say an obsession. To this day, If I have something emotional I have to work through, I write it out. It helps me process and pick everything apart. So I can put it back together in a way others can understand.
When your constantly worried about being misunderstood, there is no greater gift in life, than being able to write out everything you are trying to say and be in complete control of the story you share.