Writing about Difficult Things

As I write about my mother’s schizophrenia, I must admit, it’s stressful. I intend to finish my book by the end of February. I’ve talked about writing a book for over 20 years. If I don’t do it now, I may not have another chance.

I have a few wonderful, supportive friends. One of my friends recently said, “You are brave. I know it’s not easy.” I thanked her. I shared the beginning chapters with a few people, and she was the only person who acknowledged that it is not something I do lightly.

Writing is not an easy task. Writing about difficult, personal things makes the road more like a mountain to climb.

Some would say, “Why do it?!!”

My response, “I feel I must. Most people don’t know what they don’t know about schizophrenia.”

I’ve heard the following from some very intelligent friends with good intentions:

“Can’t they pull themselves up by their boot straps?!”

“I think they hear voices from another dimension.”

“Don’t air dirty laundry.”

One of the worst comments I heard from a co-worker who didn’t know my mother was mentally ill. “Some people should not continue living.”

I was asked to give a devotion at work one Monday morning years ago. The movie, “Beautiful Mind” came out the year before. I had always wanted to tell my mother’s story, so I kept it brief, but I tried to convey how horrible the illness is, what a mystery it is and how this life is thankfully, not all there is.

It was awkward. I knew it would be. One co-worker looked at the floor the entire time. Another told me that had to be hard. It’s a shame that we can’t be open about schizophrenia. Society talks about all kinds of things. The Me Too movement has opened the flood gates on discussing sexual violence and harassment. It has empowered women who have been victims. They now have a voice.

I keep waiting for the flood gates to open regarding mental illness. We all have stories. I struggle with mine. There is a certain amount of shame I feel over something that I had absolutely no control over.

Perhaps you are considering how to push back your inner voice that says, “don’t do it”, “this is embarrassing,” and “what will people think of me.” If you are committed to telling your story, do it “awkwardly”, do it “bravely” and do it “kindly”. Listen to some Brene Brown podcasts. She interviews some very, very brave authors.

Be sure to take care of yourself while you tell your story. Establish a routine, if possible. Get plenty of sleep. Rest when you need to. Visit with your friends and laugh over silly things. Write the hard stuff. Take your weapons – your pen and paper and push against the hard stuff. Put your armour on, but take it off when you’re done writing, take a long walk…..and just breathe.

Treat yourself with kindness. You deserve it.

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