They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. (The Message Bible, 325)
The two writings below feel very special, almost sacred, to me. They helped me and they helped my peers. The first piece was when I was in a super angry, emotional state and the second piece was written when I was still partly sedated from the night before. I’m amazed that my writing was still pretty good considering I wasn’t “in reality:”
“I already am the person I want to be. Just because there are areas for me to work on doesn’t mean that I am not already the person I want to be. I am proud of myself because I am taking care of myself. I have been responsible with letting my work know where I am. I resent the idea that I am not already a success in my own way. My emotional outbursts may be extreme but they are a normal traumatic response to an abnormal situation. It is traumatic to live in a society where the number one reason for people to be killed by the police is to have a disability (50% of all cases of police violence involve a person with a disability). I want to know how to constructively handle the rage I feel at living in such an unjust society. I know my strong emotional outbursts are due to inner shame towards being here and I need to work on that. It would help if my current strengths were noticed instead of just my weaknesses.”
(yes, I did, in fact, use accurate statistics in my hospital writing. I cracked my peers up that I was so serious.)
“Funny how a crisis can make you see what is important to you. Usually when I am hospitalized, I clothe myself in shame but today I am happy because it made me realize just who I love. I’ve always said that I would never go back to the hospital - my goal was to be done. Now my goal is to do whatever it takes to stay alive, for I have people to love, animals to cuddle, books to read and books to write. The world needs to know of the resiliency found in people who have mental illness. Those who are beautiful glow with an inward light no matter where they are. Those in houses with many lights will still never be able to see the light unless they are ever able to close their eyes and become one with the true beauty of us all.”
(I can’t remember her name but the woman sitting next to me wrote “thank you” after reading what I wrote.)
Writing was my main way of taking care of myself in the hospital. The expressive arts therapist had noticed how important my writing was and so saved it for me when I was transferred to another unit. The fact that he remembered and gave it back to me is something I will always be grateful for - few places are all bad and he was a good one. I used my writing to remind me of my goodness and what I valued, and I used it to ask myself questions about what I thought was going on with me. I would love to do a workshop on the power of journaling one day - I absolutely feel that the journaling I did in the hospital worked saving magic - having something that I was good at reminded me of my worth and confirmed that despite being in a stabilization unit, that I still had strengths. Perhaps most importantly, it gave me hope and it encouraged my peers.
I left the hospital knowing that despite everything, I had a purpose and that purpose was to write. The same thing happened when I left the trauma therapist - I told her I needed to get on with my life and start writing and she agreed. The way I currently feel is that while my mental health struggles are not fun, if they give me a purpose and a talent, then they can be redeemed. There is something special hidden in the deepest pain if we will take the time to fish it out, analyze it, throw away the parts that are no longer useful, and stand in awe of the strengths that shine despite having developed in mud and muck. Writing is my way of polishing myself and turning my dirtiness into a diamond.
(Captain Marvel from