A mentor can help you to not only write to survive but also to heal
In London, Janet Frame finally discovered the truth: she had never had schizophrenia. A psychiatrist advised her: ‘I think you need to write to survive. First write the story of your years in hospital [Faces in the Water], then keep on writing’.* Frame reflects, ‘There had never been any question of my not being able to exist in the real world unless that existence also deprived me of my own world …
Like Janet, I needed my own world of writing to survive. From the age of 11, a diary has been a constant companion. Writing helped me to survive my serious mental illness (anorexia nervosa) and later, through the learning of skills, helped me to heal and to engage more fully in the world around me.
Today I love to help others make sense of their world, and to heal, through writing.
My mentoring guidance covers the following aspects of writing:
- Autobiography and
- Social history.
Participants are guided in a nurturing environment which offers:
- Development of writing skills
- Empathy in coping with, overcoming and mastering challenges in achieving readiness for recovery, the recovery process, and recovery maintenance
- Opportunity for self-expression which helps remind the writer of the world beyond their current challenges
- Guidance in reflecting on where the writer has been, where they are now and where they are going – helps to gain a fresh perspective and enables re-storying of painful times in a way that helps the writer to feel more at peace, able to move on, and make the most of the present moment
Writing is helpful for our mental health during difficult times because:
- We can share thoughts on the page that we have difficulty saying aloud
- By expressing our thoughts and feelings in writing, we are no longer suppressing or holding them in
- Expressing changes our internal talk, relieves and helps us deal with/repackage hurtful or sad thoughts so that we can feel at peace
- Staying in touch with our thoughts and feelings brings contentment
- Your treatment team or carers can benefit enormously from insights gained through your written communication.
Writing – for all levels of skill
The technique and style of writing is the key to making everyone’s life count. Everyone has a story to tell no matter what the level of education. Amazing transformations in attitude ensue as the participant progressively gains confidence and skills to share their life experiences and begin to see and acknowledge that they have an identity to explore beyond that of their current challenges.
Participants are encouraged to get in touch with their true self and explore this. Writing helps them develop their sense of identity, which in turn defines and enriches their essence and spirit.
Writing helps to reassure the participant that – despite obstacles, pitfalls and challenges, and some things that cannot be changed – their life is important and of value in the present moment.
Life writing encourages and supports mental health by being a survival skill: a therapeutic coping, recovery and illness-prevention tool.
- As a life writing mentor, I am here to help you learn self-help skills to apply in your private and personal writing
- Memoir and life-writing workshops develop self-confidence and self-worth, promote relationship-building, sense of direction and connectedness
- Group sessions are very effective – participants engage and inspire each other, with memories coming to life like lights glowing on a Christmas tree
- Online communication is also effective – it encourages inter-action when the participant may be struggling; provides 24-hour support.
- Group or individual sessions: available in person or by email, Skype or phone