Off the Meds: Writing as an Outlet for My Anxiety

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on mental health. I’d planned on writing a series of these, but then I got busy editing a book, and well…I just forgot. But I’m getting ready to re-release To Catch a Spirit, and that’s got me thinking about mental health again, so here’s a new post.

I wrote To Catch a Spirit (and my other two available novels) many years ago, when I was deep in depression and battling severe anxiety on a daily basis. Everyone handles their anxiety in different ways, and for me, writing was my escape. Whenever my obsessive thoughts became too much to handle, I could go into these other worlds and create a different life. If I could focus on my characters and their journeys, I wouldn’t have to think about my own life.

To Catch a Spirit in particular was especially therapeutic for me to write. Logan, the hero of the story, also suffers from mental health issues (anxiety and OCD). I was able to channel my frustration with my own anxiety into this character, and then I didn’t feel quite so alone.

Of course, the book is a paranormal romance, and Logan’s attacks are triggered by his psychic abilities. So his issues are different than mine. But I was in a very dark place when I wrote this book, and it definitely helped me keep going. Logan will always be the character who is nearest to my heart. (Maybe a little too near, since a psychic in New Orleans picked up on his energy, even though he only exists in my mind!)

Then I found a wonderful therapy program, and I got better. I learned to get a handle on my obsessive thoughts, and I didn’t need to escape into my fantasy worlds anymore. The driving desire to get away from life gradually went away, so I wrote less and less. After a while, I quit writing all together.

I decided to take a few weeks off. Then the weeks turned into months, and finally into years. I was afraid to go back to writing, because I was afraid I’d have to go back to that dark place in my mind in order to create. I avoided it for two years because of that fear. Until last January.

I decided to give it a go and promised myself that if I felt myself slipping back into the darkness, I’d stop. I took a creative writing class to get the juices flowing again, and I’m happy to report that I do not have to go back to my dark place. Last year, I wrote three new novels. This year, I’ve written a short story and I’ve been editing my old books to get them republished.

I’m no longer writing because I need to escape. Now I’m writing because I want to.

Oh, and I’m hoping to release To Catch a Spirit in May, so check back soon for more information!