April 27, 2018, 2:58 p.m.
How many tools do you use to cope? I don’t know about you but I use many. Depending on the situation I may journal, call a friend or support, distract, confront; I take walks climb trees, draw, color, and play games. However I would say the thing that has been the most help to me is writing.
Writing is a tool that can be used to help communicate things that verbally are a struggle. Sometimes, my thoughts run so fast in my head that I have a hard time expressing myself verbally. I get stuck trying to say something that is so powerful in my mind, I need to get it out. Writing has helped me to overcome this barrier; it could do the same for you.
Where we were once were limited, today we have even more options when it comes to outlets for our writing than ever before. We have access to the internet, where there are websites specifically designed to get support and advice, there are blogs, books, social media sites and more. I have also used writing to communicate with my supports. At times when I am working with my support team, for me that means my dietician, counselor, doctor and a mentor, I find it difficult to express to them how e.d. (eating disorder) is controlling or manipulating my thoughts. E.d. is so talented at keeping my mind running in circles. I will have just fought off one lie e.d. has told me and it throws another and another. Repeating lies to keep me fighting with him and not having a chance to come up for air or to move on from those thoughts. Writing has allowed me to still express those thoughts, but in a letter, email, blog or text. I have found that instead of always fighting back e.d. in my head, where it has the advantage, writing how I am feeling and what my struggle is at the moment gives me some of that control and power back. It is no longer just in my head. I write emails and letters to my support team so I can truly get out of my head and express myself without e.d.’s lies stopping me. E.d. likes to keep us isolated. Writing, and directing that writing to my supports, helps me to get back my control and power and take it away from e.d.. It is important for me to note that I have arranged in advance acceptable communication lines with my supports. Each of them have different rules and guidelines when it comes to what is allowed within their places of work or based on their own time and availability.
When it comes to recovery there are many different writing exercises that can help as well. Automatic or free writing is when you set a time limit (for instance 10 minutes) where for the entire ten minutes you write down everything that comes into your head, from deep to fleeting thoughts. This can be very therapeutic allowing thoughts to come and go not holding onto them once they are on paper. Day to day journaling can help to monitor thoughts and behaviours to change them or build on them or just as a way to get out your daily thoughts and as a part of your daily routine. I find when journaling it is most helpful when I sit with paper and a pen instead of typing at the laptop. As I write the ink flows out of the pen onto the paper as if my thoughts themselves have travelled out of my head, down to the pen and are released onto the paper freeing my mind to move on. There are plenty of journaling exercises available from various books and online sites, or you can blog, go on a support chat, and write an email or a letter to a friend. You can even write post-it cards for encouragement or reminders.
There are so many opportunities to use writing in your recovery. To help move forward and grow. I hope, if you haven’t used writing in your recovery or have in the past and have gotten away from the activity, that this will remind you of how writing can help to push e.d. out and let recovery in. I challenge you to try writing and see if you can find a way it can help you, whether it's one of the tools mentioned above or another you or your support team suggests. Take some time to see if writing can do for you what it has done for me and so many others; help to give you your control back.
Cora Wright lives and works in Kingston ON. She currently is taking time off from coaching gymnastics to focus on her recovery and her studies in Psychology/Social work. Her goal is to help educate people on the dangers associated with Eating Disorders and to one day soon work with those in recovery to help them grow and move from E.D. to a healthy relationship with food and their emotions. She is the author of www.zemameyteypema.wordpress.com , a blog on recovery from E.D. and PTSD.