I live in this state of grief, fear and anxiety from the moment I awake to falling mercifully asleep. But what do you do when terror paralyses your ability to write of these emotions, be it poetry or diary? When all your energy is focused on suppressing and containing the silent, anguished scream strangling your throat – and thoughts?
-Dear Diary reader, responding to Jennifer’s post
Feeling an immediate connection with Jennifer’s poem, our reader continues:
… I have one deep desire which I need to share and must find the courage to speak of, knowing it is a chance at making me happier than a bird with a French fry… please stay with me while I fight for the clarity to translate broken thoughts from a broken heart into words.
To help our reader, I turned to Anne, who shares her story through poetry in The Diary Healer.
How to find Your Self in poetry
Anne’s response is as follows:
Dear Hurting Friend,
Your words touch me deeply in my soul because I have felt, and still sometimes do feel, as you do — in grief, fear and anxiety. (At such times) I feel like these lines I wrote in a long ago poem:
My wings are clipped,
I cannot fly.
Sometimes I just want to curl up and die.
A silent falling tree
Screams a silent scream
That nobody can hear
Through someone else’s wall.
The time I felt the most like this was in 1998 after struggling with anorexia for many years. I was too ill to even know I was ill. I was also very angry, out of control and scared. Finally I went to a treatment center. I was belligerent and uncooperative, but I went. Just as an aside, I wouldn’t unpack my suitcase for three weeks!
Back to you…. What was one of the first things I was given upon entering treatment? A journal. Like you, I didn’t think I could write in it.
So, I didn’t! I tossed it aside for a few days, maybe more. Then, I came “out of the box” and began to write.
Here are some suggestions:
I drew a weird picture. A strange face, or a star or curly cues. They weren’t in any order either. Just random, scattered thoughts, like me.
One day I wrote someone’s name. Another day, a line from a song. Just ONE line, though. It was from Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”.
Next I wrote a silly song, more squiggles.
Then one sentence, two, three and, one day, a whole paragraph about a crappy day. Some good days, too. Good, here?! Yep.
For me, my friend, one little thing after another. Recorded. Not every day, but as I could until I actually wanted to.
I wish you the gift from your soul…a journal. Done YOUR way. Make your journal your own.
Have fun, become, in time, profound and creative.
I send you love and peace as you grow in courage.
I sincerely hope something in this letter helps you.
Anne, March 2017
Diary writing allows Anne to “let it all out” and that’s good and necessary too, but sometimes she turns to poetry as a form of diary writing, for it allows her to more fully explore and creatively express the metaphors, the emotions, the caring, love and even anguish. For Anne, creating lyrical and narrative poems at times counteracts the voice of ED more effectively than prose:
“Expressing these things in poetry has brought out the self I really am, apart from ED. My poetry has grown and changed as I have. It has helped me to realize I am not useless and that realization has assisted my healing. Through the process of writing I stopped hating myself.”
-Anne (The Diary Healer)
Get a pen and paper, and let your thoughts flow
Here is a gem that Anne has penned especially for you:
Let It All Out!
By Anne Edwards
Feeling life is too
much for you?
Feeling your life is
full of glee?
Struggling with school?
Struggling with friends?
Struggling to cope
with this life of yours?
I have a GREAT solution
Find a Diary.
Find a journal.
Find a bestest
Find a pen, a pencil too.
Colored ones are
and better help you
express what you’re
Let it go!
Let it all out!
Get your Diary out!
Anne describes writing poetry as, literally, her heart and soul coming through her pen:
“If you really want to know me, read my poems, because this is my soul.”
– Anne (The Diary Healer)
Anne provides this example of releasing a specific emotion:
By Anne Edwards
Anger is like
A fiery, red,
That starts with
The clenching of a fist,
The knotting of a stomach, or
The setting of a jaw,
Then spreads like
Spreads throughout one’s system
Until one feels
And, so consumed,
Competition – Win a book
Poetry helps many people express how they feel. It may involve jotting down a poem now and then when feeling inspired, keeping a daily journal specifically for expressing ongoing thoughts and feelings in the form of poetry, or interspersing poetry into your regular diary. The benefits start with every word that you put on the page. The popularity of poetry as a form of narrative expression in the healing process is discussed in The Diary Healer.
The popularity of poetry as a coping and healing tool was an exciting revelation in my research for The Diary Healer.
Consequently, I am excited to announce that for our first-ever competition on www.thediaryhealer.com, you are invited to submit an original poem or piece of prose, exploring the theme ‘Why I like poetry’.
The word count limit is 250.
Submit your entries here. Closing date is April 20, 2017.
Start writing and explore your creativity – if writing is not your thing, perhaps you will prefer to submit a drawing, a cartoon or a picture with caption. A selection of entries will be published each week throughout the competition on thediaryhealer.com and the prizewinner will be announced on April 27, 2017.
For your poem or narrative to be considered for posting and for the prize, be sure when submitting your entry, to state clearly a) that you give consent for your poem or prose to be published on thediaryhealer.com and b) how you want your name to appear (e.g., first name, full name, pseudonym).
The prizewinner will receive a signed copy of my memoir, A Girl Called Tim. This book contains no poetry; however, it was the heartwarming readers’ response to this literary work that inspired this entire wonderful narrative, healing journey that brings me in touch with you today.
Keep well and I look forward to hearing from you!
I have written nine books about eating disorders since my recovery (my “reconnection with true self”) from anorexia nervosa and other long term mental health challenges in 2006. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing). My contribution to the eating disorder field was recognised at the 2016 Academy for Eating Disorders International Conference in San Francisco where I was awarded the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy. I am currently a co-chair of the NEDC Steering Committee Evidence of Experience Group, a foundation steering committee member of the annual World Eating Disorders Action Day, and an Advisory Panel member for F.E.A.S.T.