Paul explains how putting pen to paper has enabled him to address his anxiety and depression.
Paul, who has anxiety and depression, writes a mental health blog and is the author of the novel Rotten Apples.
Three years ago I suffered a mental breakdown due to work related stress. Anxiety and depression took over my life, I was scared to leave my flat, I could not be in groups of people and I found it very difficult to communicate with anyone, including friends and family; in short my world changed and I became very isolated.
"Writing has always been important to me. It gives me the opportunity to express myself both emotionally and creatively."
It was like having a conversation with myself; working my way through whatever problems were bothering me at the time
Years ago, way before my breakdown, I started writing a journal. At the time I was struggling in lots of ways. I would write for hours, just pouring whatever was in my mind onto the paper in front of me.
It was like having a conversation with myself; working my way through whatever problems were bothering me at the time.
I have also tried my hand at creative writing, and publishing my first novel Rotten Apples on Kindle is one of my proudest achievements.
After my breakdown. My writing changed, it went from being creative fun to a vital way for me to express myself in a calm, clear way. When I write my brain slows down and I find I can think more clearly. Sometimes my brain is in such a pickle that I find it impossible to write; at this point I stop and return to it later.
"My struggle has taken me to some very dark places psychologically, and these are not really things to bring up in general conversation."
I found that trying to talk about what was going on was really difficult. I was afraid of how people would respond to what I was telling them. My struggle has taken me to some very dark places psychologically, and these are not really things to bring up in general conversation.
How do you tell friends and family you sometimes feel so worthless, that you question the point of being here? How do you talk about how much alcohol you’ve consumed in a day to try to stop the panic and anxiety?
People’s natural response is to try to raise your spirits and to come up with solutions. It is human nature to try and fix things, and sometimes this can really stress me out because most of the time this is not what I want, I just want to share what I am going through, and this is where writing helps me.
I write a lot of ‘to do’ lists because I find it hard to focus on tasks if they are floating around in my head. I feel better listing everything and then I can pick and choose what I do depending on how I feel.
Writing a blog has become a life saver for me. I started my blog ‘And Breathe...’ so I could share my journey in dealing with anxiety, panic and depression. It is there so people can see what I am going through, but also to share information I am learning about mental health issues and the various treatments available. My hope is that it can help others.
One of my main struggles is with anger. I am generally very reserved, especially in public, and I would never let my emotions get out of control. But bottling emotions up is not good. I get angry at my wife and our dog, which is not fair on them. I also get angry at myself which only adds to the depression.
Society has some strong ideas when it comes to expressing emotions; you have to behave in a certain way, you have to keep calm in the face of adversity even when your brain is screaming at you to run or fight.
"Some people release anger in a physical way, boxing or other contact sports. For me release lies in the pen and the note pad."
In my blog I write as a way to release these dark emotions. But I also want to channel the anger to write creatively again, I would love to create a really good baddy like the Joker in The Dark Night, or delve into the psyche like Stephen King. I don’t want there to be any boundaries as to what I can write.
Some people release anger in a physical way, boxing or other contact sports. For me release lies in the pen and the note pad, I can go on a journey and see where my mind takes me.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E. L. Doctorow
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