A lot of aspiring authors believe they have a story in them. But sometimes, what they fail to realise that they are that story.
Writing a memoir can certainly be therapeutic, as it gives you the chance to take a step back and analyse your life and decide where you want to go next. But writing a mental health memoir, well, that’s something that can help so much more.
I think we’ve all known people who felt their mental health was something to be ashamed of and that they had to hide it away; writing about it for everyone to read can be extremely liberating.
In addition, writing about your own mental health journey from the place you’re now in can provide you with a sense of pride, as you can reflect on where you were and how far you’ve come.
Helping Your Loved Ones
One of the biggest difficulties with having mental ill health is that it can feel impossible to make other people understand. This is where a memoir comes in.
When you try and explain what you’re struggling with to other people, it can be hard to get the point across; you’re competing with their phone notifications, the TV in the background or the fact that whilst they seem awake, they’re mentally still tucked up in bed.
Alternatively, writing allows you to carefully consider what it is you want to say, and how you’re going to say it. This then translates to the reader dedicating all their attention to the words on the page. If they can absorb your words in a quiet and distraction-free environment, the penny may finally drop.
Another important distinction between talking and writing to your loved ones is emotion. It is never easy to explain how you’re feeling without the fear of upsetting someone or becoming so upset yourself that you fail to make yourself heard.
By writing down your thoughts and feelings, this ensures that the reader understands everything you’re saying before responding.
Just as we can have problems with our physical health, we all experience problems with our mental health, to varying degrees. This means that sharing your personal experiences has the ability to change other people’s lives.
You may write a memoir about a struggle you had which you felt was totally unique to you and your environment, but you know what? I bet that someone else is feeling exactly the same way right now.
By reading how you felt and how you learned to cope, this person’s life will be changed, as you have provided them with real evidence that it does get better.
The conversation is just starting to open up about mental health, but there is so much more work to be done. By writing your story, you not only contribute to this discussion; you also educate others.
Memoirs are a great platform for education around mental health because you can share exactly how you felt and what you experienced.
This can be important for other people to read as they can relate to their own lives. For example, if a boss has noticed an employee taking a lot of sick days and then reads that your depression started by missing days of work, they may take note of this and talk to the employee, to offer them help.
As you can see, writing a mental health memoir has a multitude of benefits. So, I guess the next question is, where’s your pen?
Emily Casey, Cherish Editions, the mental health and wellbeing self-publishing specialists.