When I was younger, writing poetry which described and explored my state of mind during major depression may have saved me from a nervous breakdown. Artists and writers can, and do, use their art as a form of self-therapy. Reflective writing with a purpose, intentional or otherwise.
Writing is how I express myself. I can struggle with words when I speak. Writing everything down first provides the chance to ensure clarity. I’ve been doing it all my life. Fiction, non-fiction, copy-writing, blogging, emails, to do lists……So why am denying myself this proven therapeutic tool now? When I am still coming to terms with losing both my parents to pancreatic cancer in the space of 6 months. Burying the grief, the profound, deep sadness. The anger. Why do I feel uncomfortable writing about it?
I don’t have children of my own. Years ago, my maternal instincts found an outlet through caring for a special, adored young cat and when I lost him, I channelled my grief and helplessness into volunteering and fundraising for the Cats Protection League. Eventually I was able to write about it. Over the past year, I’ve raised funds and tried to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. When I lose loved ones, I have a desperate need to find a positive outcome from all the tragedy. It’s a useful way of focussing creative energy.
There is currently a high profile media campaign running which promotes the importance of cancer research. What it doesn’t say is that not all cancers are equal. To quote from the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund:
“Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers – just 3% of those diagnosed survive for five years. It is also the only cancer that has seen no improvement in this figure over the last 40 years.
Overall, half of all those diagnosed with a cancer now survive for five years or more. For many cancers, five year survival rates have increased hugely since the 1970s. For breast cancer – where large amounts have been spent on research – five year survival rates have increased from 50% to 80%.
Yet despite its high death rate and lack of improvement in chances of survival, pancreatic cancer attracts little research funding in comparison with many other cancers.”
Although I’m not yet ready to write about my feelings, I’m glad that I can use what I write as a tool to raise awareness of issues that concern me which relate to my bereavement. So if this results in even one reader making a donation to, or getting involved with, these charities, then the words have done their job.
On therapeutic writing: http://www.lapidus.org.uk/about.php
Jane’s recent e-book, Coming Home, is available from Amazon, with all author royalties going to the charity Cats Protection.