Writing to Heal

“You’re an idealist, Jenny,” someone said the other day, citing my blog posts about the NHS, peaceful warriors, etc., as evidence.

I’m not a fan of labels, but if fighting for what I believe in makes me an idealist, so be it.

Come to think of it, I’ve been fighting for something or other ever since I was an angry little girl defending my right to be seen and heard. It’s what keeps me alive and sane.

depression-1252577_640For when cynicism and hopelessness get the better of me, I fall into a deep black hole, where death seems like the only way out.

Yes, depression has been a recurring feature of my life since my late teens and I am no longer ashamed to admit it.

I was in my late twenties and early thirties, and in the midst of my PhD studies at a prestigious university, when self-doubt, excessive drinking and bulimia, followed by the sudden death of my father, saw me steadily slipping into that black hole again. It was only with the help of a superbly empathic therapist (and antidepressants) that I survived.

Years later, I was broken hearted when I learned that the therapist who played such a crucial part in my recovery, had committed suicide.

The birth of my first child a few years later was one of the most magical moments of my life, followed by marriage and another child, and on the face of it, I had no reason to complain.

Depression, however, has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have in life and experience soon taught me that being blessed with a wonderful family of my own didn’t protect me from falling into those dark holes.

Where do my depressive tendencies come from? Are they genetic? Biochemical? Or are they a sign of spiritual crisis? Do they have something to do with early childhood trauma caused by multiple surgical interventions? Or are they a consequence of being bullied, made to feel I don’t belong or measure up?

I don’t think I’ll ever truly know the cause of my depression, though many therapists and well-meaning loved ones have offered their views on the matter.hole-1243311_640

I still dip into my black holes every now and again; usually, it happens without any warning as it did a couple of weeks ago when I found myself sitting on the bus with two happy children, suddenly wishing I wasn’t there.

Writing helps. I use different journal methods to work through my self-destructive feelings as they come my way.

I’ve always been drawn to writing as a means of self-expression but only in recent years have I come to understand that for me, the act of writing serves a fundamental purpose: healing.

So I write to stay alive and sane in an insane world.


6 thoughts on “Writing to Heal

  1. sneffwriter May 26, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    Keep on Jenny! I too am an idealist and believe we must fight for what we believe in.


  2. Rae Hight May 26, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    Jenny – This is beautiful, courageous and a superb reminder of the powerful role journaling plays in our holistic wellness. Your wisdom and willingness to always seek the beauty, no matter what, is fully inspiring! Your graphics are spot on too 🙂 Rae


    • Jenny Engström Baron June 10, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Thank you Rae. Even as a child I think my desire to write came from a need to let the words heal me.


  3. daphneradenhurst June 2, 2016 / 12:37 pm

    Have just read your very moving blog, Jenny. I too have suffered from depression all my life and have very similar questions about it. I also have recently realised that it is better to talk about it, in this way one can help others. You are a very courageous and beautiful woman, Jenny. Keep on being yourself and fighting for your ideals.


    • Jenny Engström Baron June 10, 2016 / 8:40 pm

      Daphne, thank you for your own openness about depression. I believe that talking about depression rather than hiding it is essential to our healing.


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