On Mental Health · On Writing

Writing with mental illness, exercising inner demons, or just plain old writers block

Raaaah- I should be editing right about now.

I should be working on chapter 5, working out ways to reduce my word count, and present my ideas in ways which are accessible and vaguely interesting. I want to get this book edited, I want to prune it down into a shape which would be manageable for a person still suffering from symptoms of mental illness.

Unfortunately the author is currently still suffering symptoms of mental illness herself, and so the book has gone onto the back burner and  I have retreated to wordpress, after sitting staring at the monitor for so long I feel like I’ve given my eyes a pleasant acid bath.

I can never work out, in moments such as these, how much of what I am experiencing is normal writers block, and how much of it is down to the fact that my head is scrambled like eggs. I feel like I want to punch the wall until my knuckle is bleeds, and then punch it a few more times for good measure, just to relieve the pressure that seems to build in my chest.

I would never actually do this- it’s very much a metaphor to express the deep frustration and rage that come on when my inability to write provokes symptoms, and I’m left feeling as though the steering wheel to my thoughts as been rigged to a constant hard right. I still suffer voices; they are well known (or well loathed), and nothing that I haven’t dealt with a million times before.

Unfortunately, when they come on, they still provoke these deep rooted, intense feelings which seem to blossom out of nowhere and then leave me feeling completely out of control of my own mind and body for a little while.

I cannot express the intensity; it is as if somebody has taken the volume dial to my emotional resonance and cranked it up to max- or a found a button on me which, once pressed, creates a black hole in my head where all the worst feelings I have ever experienced come on together, all at once, at the highest frequency.

I want to scream, or cry, or rant and rage- but there is generally never much of a reason for any of it, which makes it all the more blindly, manically frustrating.

Rationally, I know that this is simply a faulty neural pathway. There is a neutral pathway somewhere in my head that, when triggered, grasps at all the negative. I think fear fuels it, because the instance I start to feel it come on (it’s like a dark cloud slowly looming over my head), it freaks the f**k out of me, and then the process snowballs.

That pathway in my head takes me to the bad place.

I’ve got fear, that it won’t ever pass; self-loathing, because I feel like I’ve created this process myself; frustration, that I can’t just shake it off or alter it; more fear, that I’ll never be able to; and rage, because I have worked so frigging hard to get better, and don’t feel I deserve this; and then more self-loathing, because I know raging that “I don’t deserve this” is as futile and pointless as screaming into the wind.

My symptoms tell me that various people from the past who dislike me, are somehow caught up in this as well, that people leave imprints, and I’ve been affected negatively by people in the past who wanted to hurt me.

I hate the fact that these paranoid delusions still hold weight in my subconscious, and that the sheer intensity of the feelings still leads me to fear that this could be true- because if somebody doesn’t hate me somewhere then why the hell do I feel this bad, for absolutely no good reason at all. I know, I know- neutral pathways, faulty wiring, chemical imbalances..

Why can’t I learn to distinguish between the real justifiable reasons for frustration, and the psychotic delusions. Is my subconscious so mangled, that anything which pops into it can cause a chain reaction that leaves me wanting to punch the wall, or just cry until I haven’t any breath left. I know that I probably spend too much time on my own, but unfortunately I can’t do too much about that at the moment. Moreover, I feel like I should definitely be able to spend a few hours alone without freaking out to this ridiculous degree.

I want to get this book finished, I want to get it out of me. Writing it probably isn’t the best thing for my head, because I am ultimately re-living the last ten years each time I compose an anecdote.But I know I can do it, I’m closer to the finish line now. I just wish the frustration that comes on when I can’t write wouldn’t lead into this mind-numbingly intense, psychosis fuelled rage.

I sometimes feel as though I am exercising demons, as though the positive process of writing is drawing that negativity out of me like blood from a stone, and the process is so-f*****g painful. Like the stress and pain and rage is their screaming, and their shrieks as they are slowly and awkwardly dragged from my mind and body.

They may have been attracted to me because of the intensity of feeling and sensation that comes with this illness, they may have perceived me to be weak because I ended up in hospital. Or they may have put me in hospital.

They are only an impression of the negative experiences I have had over the last ten years, they are only fear and frustration – psychology which has been mashed, hauled through a blender and then remoulded into an impression of the mind that was there previously.

There are no demons, not really. They are just what leaves me when I try to write about the things I have experienced; when I try to express the sensations that send me spiralling off and away.

Every writer has gone through it; this blood freezing writers block. This sensation of needing to express something so badly- but the words refuse to come! The words remain irretrievable and elusive. I can almost taste them they are so dam close, but they refuse to budge and trickle down into my consciousness to be translated and expressed.

So I flap and flail like a fish on dry land, gasping for air, gasping for words! I need to be able to express this!! 

I will give up now and leave it till tomorrow, everything feels better after a good nights sleep right?! In fact tomorrow my boyfriend and I are going to a wedding, which should hopefully be a good day, and a chance to let off some steam, celebrate with friends and have a few glasses of wine and a bit of a dance.

I know I’ll get this book out of me eventually; I guess parts of it are just still so lodged inside of me that I need a crow-bar and wrench to pry them out. It is as if I’m trying to remove bones and tissue, and smear them across the page in a way that makes sense.

This book is my Everest- days like today are inevitable. I just need to be able to take a step back when the black cloud descends, and have the sense to leave it for a while; not buy into any of the crap that makes me want to tear my hair out!

Writers block, demons or plain old mind boggling psychotic symptoms.. Whatever it is it makes my blood boil, and then freeze right over with each and every heart beat; it makes my desire to write a compulsion.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Writing with mental illness, exercising inner demons, or just plain old writers block

  1. Sorry to be late for the party, I don’t get email updates for your blog – WordPress is an erratic system.

    You say “working out ways to reduce my word count” – I say: “don’t torture yourself.”

    Write what needs to be written, if it doesn’t sound right, change it. But don’t change it because you want to hand it to a nit-picking editor who would wet his knickers if he had to spend 10p more on the book because it contained twenty more words than it should.

    The numpties will want to do their work anyway, carve up your text and slice chunks out almost at random. You can’t stop them: they know no better, and only want to show you that you aren’t one of them.

    The way you write is engaging and thoughtful. Nothing else matters.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks a lot 🙂 I just need to know when to take a break, and need to keep in mind how much work I’ve already done.. and stop kicking myself when I’m struggling. Kicking myself when I’m already down in something i excel at….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And what is it about kicking yourself when you’re down? It is contenting to allow yourself to stop being creative, isn’t it?

        Most people don’t admit to this, yet do it all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, and again apologies for not visiting your blog often enough. I’ll take it point by point – but not all of them…

    I’ve been affected negatively by people in the past who wanted to hurt me.

    Remember the numptie who would wet his knickers if he had to spend ten pennies that he wasn’t allowed to? He will blame you for writing them – he won’t blame himself for being so anally retentive. I have more to say on this topic, much more.

    that the sheer intensity of the feelings still leads me to fear that this could be true

    Isn’t this quite reasonable in the circumstances? We live in a world where most people do as they’re told – and never come across such dilemmas. When they do, they see that you have caused it. You interfere with their comfort zone, and to them, this is a direct and very real threat to their emotional stability… a place where they too would have to deal with this kind of materially insoluble question. That is to say, you can’t answer it by sitting behind your desk and doing as you’re told: what you are doing steps away from the controlled mind – and steps out of the fridge and into the fire. All a psychiatrist can do is to try and fit you into their box… their comfort zone. They know nothing else, poor lambs.

    I know- neutral pathways, faulty wiring, chemical imbalances..

    That doesn’t alter the fact that only you can determine what your emotional balance actually is.

    I feel like I should definitely be able to spend a few hours alone without freaking out to this ridiculous degree

    Imagine a desk-bound bureaucrat put in your position. He’d freak out for weeks, not just hours. I know it’s painful – my own experience was of the profoundest loneliness – I assure you that there will come a time when you actually come to relish these moments. But by then, you will have created some balance in your life, and the frequency of their occurrence will on this account be lessened. The emphasis is on ‘you’ here. Others can help, but only when they support, and don’t control. The latter is poison to the soul.

    I want to get this book finished, I want to get it out of me

    Then write the damned thing and don’t worry about the numpties!! Write, write, write – but don’t “not write” because that is where the pain comes from. Speak to those who will listen, speak only to them, because they don’t care how thick the f*cking book is, they care that it was written at all. They will find some of your ideas challenging, they will find them incomprehensible – but I guarantee you this: they won’t shout at you for being stupid. They will turn to themselves and say “what is it that she is trying to say to me?” And they will find the answers within themselves.

    They are just what leaves me when I try to write about the things I have experienced; when I try to express the sensations that send me spiralling off and away.

    Now tell me this: is there anyone else on the planet who can write what you are writing?

    Because if there is, you can cross-reference your thoughts with theirs. But if there isn’t, you aren’t going to get any help in this. Only tell me this: if someone else has written this book already, why are you writing it? I’ll explain…

    This sensation of needing to express something so badly- but the words refuse to come!

    So there is Martin Luther, sitting at his desk at the Wartburg, reading his copy of the Greek Testaments that Erasmus had gathered. Now I know from speaking several languages myself that there are ways of expressing yourself in one language that literally do not exist in any other. So there is Martin, looking at a sentence of Greek, and whilst he knows what it says, he hasn’t a clue how to express it in his own language!!! Nobody’s done this before.

    Ever.

    Not ever.

    St Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, and did so in a rather club-footed way. Martin wouldn’t be satisfied with that level of incompetence… he was proud of himself, and so he created his own challenges. Challenges that had him hitting the wall with his head so hard that it cracked the paint. (I’ll see if there are still signs of this when I visit the Wartburg… 😉 ) He is known to have thrown his inkpot at the devil… I think you understand this level of frustration.

    People say that it is easy to express yourself in your own language. Believe me when I say that it isn’t. All you have done is to enter the realm of the inexpressible.

    Okay, so I’ll put it another way: it was inexpressible until you came along.

    It’s not easy to add something to the canon of human literature. Nor is it supposed to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, your encouragement really really means a lot. And your comments are so insightful I do wonder about your own experiences? This line has picked me up- I assure you that there will come a time when you actually come to relish these moments. But by then, you will have created some balance in your life, and the frequency of their occurrence will on this account be lessened. The emphasis is on ‘you’ here. Others can help, but only when they support, and don’t control. The latter is poison to the soul.- I look forward to a time when those crazy intense moments no longer hurt because they are balanced in some way.. It is a process of ‘rebuilding the mind’- and I can grasp the idea that eventually it will all mesh together better, when those sticking points are stronger. Thank you a million- and apologies back to you, I don’t receive email notifications when I you have new posts either, so have just noticed you have new ones. Will read later this afternoon!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think it has anything to do with ‘re-building’ – it is more a matter of tidying up, as it were. Everything’s confused, yet you don’t know where anything goes. The only way is to wade through the confusion and work these things out for yourself.

        Nobody else can do this for you. All they can do is tell you how to do it, and let you get on with it. My impression, reading the things you write, is that if ‘normal’ people experienced what you did, they’d lack the capacity to find themselves: their world would be so damaged that it would be impossible for them to find their way back. Most people in your condition would simply give up, and worse, have psychiatrists doping them into stupidity that even if they had the capacity, they’d be unable to deal with it.

        I can see the pain you’ve been through – and to be honest, it is what anybody would experience if they went outside their comfort zones without due preparation. Well, that’s why they don’t, and that’s why they don’t like being reminded of the fact: we live in a world where we are taught how to avoid such things.

        When I lived in Germany, I was well outside my comfort zone, and it was far worse because in learning to speak German, I learned all about the negative side of my own mother tongue, English. My comfort zone was in tatters!!

        But for all that pain, you still had the capacity to remain conscious of your own self.

        Like

  3. The trick to living with a chronic health condition is to make room for it. I know that I am going have down time which means that the normal time frame for ‘success’ and achievement is longer for me. I think this applies to people with disabilities regardless of the disability.

    be gentle with yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. hi Alex i like the way you express you emotion, i have the same symptom and i feel the same when i get stressed or anxious, but i never express it this beautifuly so thank you .
    I share the same frustration also when world coud not come out , take all you time you need and i would be happy to read your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Writers block is frustrating, but it always passes, it is never worth getting that stressed about, but sometimes it’s hard not to you know? Thank you for your kind words, I enjoy writing, and believe very strongly in the power of writing to express hurt and pain. Nothing beats it. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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