Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How I Used Writing to Heal My Depression Without Taking Drugs

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Janna Marlies Maron. She recently released her first ebook, How to Manage Depression Without Drugs, which is her personal journey of using story, music food and ritual to find her way out of depression. You can find Janna on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.

You might think that writers are naturally inclined to use writing as therapy. But that’s not always the case.

Used Writing to Heal My Depression Without Taking Drugs

Photo Credit: benleto via Compfight cc

I used to be super depressed.When I say “super depressed,” I mean like don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed depressed and go-to-bed-for-the-night-as-early-as-4 p.m. depressed. And although I’m a writer, writing wasn’t particularly therapeutic for me.

Writing and my depression

Yes, I wrote while depressed — nearly every day. But I wrote emotional rants. Diatribes about how awful life was and how horrible I felt. What an untalented, unskilled, unlucky, unlovable, un-everything person I am.

The problem with this kind of writing is that it reinforces the negative pattern of depression. I think and feel miserable, therefore I write down the miserable thoughts and feelings. This cycle is not helpful. It is not therapeutic.

Sure, maybe I get some of the negativity out of my body and mind, but then it is down on paper or computer screen — glaring back at me in black and white — telling me that, yes in fact, that negativity exists. It is real.

When I think back on it now, it strikes me as odd that my editor-brain was completely blind to my own writing.

If I were to read an emotional rant from a peer or client, someone asking for my professional feedback, I would view it with a critical, editorial eye as a shitty first draft, and I would look for ways to revise it to the next best possible draft.

Writing and my personal narrative

It took the help of a therapist to help me revise my personal narrative. (You might say he was acting as my editor.) I remember distinctly going for one appointment and saying, “I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel.” I was referring to a new health regimen that I had recently started as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

“Do you want to be on a hamster wheel?” my therapist asked.

“No,” I said.

“Well, what do you want?”

In the moment, I didn’t know and I couldn’t answer the question. I started crying.

At home, I sat in front of my computer and wrote the question “WHAT DO I WANT?” in all caps at the top of a blank word document.

I started typing. Out came things like, “I want someone to tell me this diet is working” and, “I want to know that I’m making progress” and, “I want to see a light at the end of the tunnel” and, “I want to know how long it will take” and, “I want to see results.”

Finally, after about 1,000 words, I wrote, “I want to be healthy and strong.”

Instantly I knew that I had to revise the story I had been writing. I had to revise it from the miserable emotional diatribes that I wrote while depressed to this better story of vibrancy and rejuvenation: I want to be healthy and strong.

Writing and my revision process

It all began with writing. Anything. What comes out doesn’t matter. What matters is that something comes out, because then I have a starting point. I have words to work with. Any words are better than no words.

Once I have some words I can revise. I can read the words and think about whether they are the best words.

Are they the words that I want? Do I want to be that miserable person? No? Then how do I change the words so that they are not so miserable? I change one word here and one word there. “I am unhealthy” becomes “I am healthy.”

Then I write some more and see if the revisions have transferred into the new work. Do I continue to write the miserable stuff? Or do I begin to write revised stuff that is slightly less miserable?

Revising is improving — always improving, moving closer to the positive and true version of the story I want to be writing and living. (tweet this)

Writing and my health

A person who is healthy and strong doesn’t write about how miserable she is.

A person who is healthy and strong doesn’t write about being unlucky, unskilled, untalented, unlovable — she doesn’t write about being un-anything.

Instead, she writes about being full of energy and how she can do yoga poses now that she couldn’t do just one year ago. She writes about how she manages her health.

She writes about her own creative life in spite of depression and chronic illness. She writes about how much progress she has made in one year. She writes about her personal journey and publishes ebooks so that others may benefit from her story.

Has writing played a part in your personal narrative? Share in the comments.

About Janna Marlies Maron

Janna Marlies Maron recently released her first ebook, How to Manage Depression Without Drugs, which is her personal journey of using story, music food and ritual to find her way out of depression.

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  • Janna … As a counselor, a blogger who started off with journaling through my own depression, all I can say is thank you. You’ve shared a lifeline that many of us cling to in our darkest nights.
    And now we can share that grace, that truth with others.
    Love this redemption story!

  • Absolutely. Absolutely writing has played a role in my personal narrative. It’s simply, well not always so simply, shifting the lens in which I write. It gave me clarity during a time where there was no focus, just utter noise and head chatter, negative head chatter. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Yes! Shifting the lens is a great way to think of it. What a great image, I love it. Thanks for the comment!

  • Mali Korsten

    Powerful post! It’s all too easy to use writing as a way of reinforcing our negative beliefs about ourselves. Thanks for the reminder that our focus determines our reality!

    • Thanks for the comment, Mali! I think it’s important to remember that sometimes just the writing isn’t quite enough–it’s what we do with the words that come out of us, and it’s remembering that we always have the power to choose the story we want for our lives.

  • Scott Whisler

    Lovely piece, Janna. Love how you connect the iterative process of writing–writing badly, editing, revising, trying again–to facing up to the first draft that is our lives. Wonderfully encouraging.

  • Writing definitely played a role in helping me climb out of the pit of depression, and it still plays a role in keeping me out of the pit today. I actually just finished a blog series on depression, and I am in the middle of writing at least one book on the topic. Sharing our stories is important, because it helps others struggling with depression see the many and varied paths out of the pit. While the general process includes many of the same steps, the path is unique to each person. Every story we hear helps us create our own path. Thank you for sharing yours.

    • Kari, yes, sharing our stories is so important–I find the “me too” moment so powerful, when another person connects and relates to the experience we share. Thank you for sharing your “me too” moment!

  • Yes, I’m not sure where my life would be today had writing not started playing a part in my personal narrative. Thankful for this outlet. I love that when we are writing from a healthy place, our struggle and challenges may not completely go away but we can write about them honestly and the hope shines through.

    • Thank you for the comment, Eileen! It is so wonderful to hear that writing has been a part of your healing journey.

  • Wow, Janna. This is perfect, with such apt timing. I started writing initially so I could write out my emotional rants instead of admitting them aloud to others. I never quite thought about how that reinforced the negativity I felt about my life. I love your perspective on life and how a healthy writer writes. I felt like I was a blog post I might write about my own life, sometime perhaps years in the future. PS Reading the Ultramind Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman too changed my life and the way I view my health. So grateful to meet someone else who refuses to choose drugs. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Thank you, Alyssa! I’m so glad you found this post helpful and encouraging. I do think it’s important to write and journal the emotional rants–they need to be purged from our body and mind. But the important action is what we do once those rants are down on paper–do we choose that as the story of our life, or do we revise and choose a more positive story. That’s the next step I think a lot of folks miss in the writing process–it’s SO important to revise our own personal story.

      The no-drugs path is definitely not a popular one in our culture, and can be lonely at times…I’m glad to meet another compatriot too!

  • Craig Ronning

    A hearty thanks, Janna. You served up a tasty slice with my coffee this morning and I feel as though we’ve shared openly as friends (kudos for the writing that accomplishes that). To your question, o yea! Definitely the writing, all of it, helps me. Writing, while messy at times, clears away the clutter (eventually). Not sure it cleans it up but it have reconnected to my soul in the processing of things. Depression, repression, oppression…all nasty and real…I’m susceptible to them all I suppose.

    Thanks again for sharing today, friend. Stirred up a good thought or two for me. Blessings:)

    • Thank you, Craig. I’m so glad to hear that you’re thinking about how your writing plays a role in your of dealing with those nasty and real parts of life. Keep writing–and revising!

  • Catherine

    Preach it! Amen.

  • Writing is therapeutic for me too. It helps to process the emotions, and wind up feeling better for it, like David did in his journal: the Psalms.

  • Dubem Menakaya

    I like to say ‘I read because I can, I write because I AM’ – Writing makes me feel complete. That’s where I discover myself. That’s where I express myself. That’s what takes me through the struggles.

    • “Writing takes me through the struggles” –I love that. Thank you for sharing, Dubem!

  • Thanks for sharing your story Janna. – I have so many ideas and other stuff screaming for attention inside my head it seems like pure confusion. Writing helps me focus on what is important.

    • I completely agree–writing is a great way to sort through the mental chatter. Thanks for the comment, Jon!

  • christian Simmons

    Nice writing. However, what would you say to a person suffering from REAL depression? Who suffers the afflictions of the mind that paralyzes him?

    • She went to a therapist and had moments where she couldn’t get out of bed. It doesn’t get any more “real” than that.

      • christian Simmons

        I have as well. Even institutionalized for suicidal ideation. Still slipped through the system and face my demons time and time again,.

    • Hi Christian, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I know that depression is incredibly challenging and can be debilitating, as it was for me, and I definitely consider what I experienced to be real depression. Though I also know that it is a different experience for everyone who struggles with it–for me, writing is the tool that helped me control that afflicted mind that was so paralyzing. For me, the negative story in my mind controlled me and kept me in bed because I let it, and when I started working on revising that narrative–choosing a better story–that is when I started to recover. And it was a long journey–it was at least a year before I started to see measurable change in my life. I share my story as one person’s experience so that others might find a piece of it helpful in their own journey.

      • christian Simmons

        I am glad to hear that writing helps so many with their own version of depression. It is very heartwarming to hear how everyone seemed to have bounced back from their version of depression. Keep it up. As for me, I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I wish I could make writing my daily routine, however, a routine for me is anything but daily.

  • ‘Any words are better than no words.’ I’m writing into my questions and using the words I find on the page to learn about who I am. When I write words that I’m not sure of, I begin to see and embrace the truest version of myself. It’s encouraging to read your thoughts on discovery. Thanks!!

    • yes, Marcy, I love that–embracing the truest version of yourself. So lovely. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks for sharing your story! Writing does indeed help with my depression and anxiety. Actually, getting the negative thoughts out is great for anxiety-related insomnia, but yes looking back on them…so awful. Thanks for encouraging me to write down a positive narrative. This is going to inspire a blog post I’ve been working on.

    • Hi Williesha, I’m so glad to hear that writing has been a part of your healing journey! Thank you for your comment!

  • Janna, thanks so much for sharing your journey! Writing is definitely a tool for healing. : ) Peace and Blessings, Asia

  • Writing helps me think clearly when my mind is swimming with too many thoughts! It clarifies my vision and crystallizes my thoughts. I find that to be helpful and healing.

    • I totally agree–writing is a great way to find clarity and focus. Thanks for the comment, Caleb!

  • Mikel Dumlao

    Thanks Janna for this article. You know what? I’m currently in Jeff Goins’ 31-day challenge. I would tell you that most of my writings is about how-not-good-enough-I-am stuff and my struggles as someone who’s barely starting in writing. I think I am currently doing what you’ve been through. I’m not in extreme depression but your article made me think that though I am trying to be authentic, too much reinforcing of the negative truth may drive me nuts.

    This article made me to think more of positive things about myself without removing the authenticity.

    • Hi Mikel, thank you for sharing! I’m so glad to hear this post has helped you think about your writing in a new way. It’s important to write the negative stuff sometimes, because we need to be come aware of that story. Only once we are aware of it can we change it. Look for ways to revise that story, just one or two words, and you will find how powerful it is to have a new, positive story to tell yourself!

      • Mikel Dumlao

        Thanks Janna. I would take that advise seriously. A light will shine upon my next blogpost 🙂

  • Writing is like meditation for me. It helps me explore, organize, and get clarity and peace with the many, many thoughts and emotions run in through me.

    Journaling each morning has been a huge addition to my routine. Just getting my thoughts, concerns, and baby step goals for the day written down makes me feel I have control and power over my day.

    The writing I do for my blog readers gives me great joy and purpose. When I face the Resistance and do the work, what comes out on the other side is always something I can use to help my readers – sometimes it’s a whole blog post, sometimes it’s a project idea, sometimes it’s a nice of gobbledygook but with one golden nugget line or concept within it which in that next session will blossom beautifully.

    Thank you for this great post!

    • James, I love that idea of thinking of writing like meditation. It’s so true that once you start writing sometimes surprising things come out of you, thoughts and feelings you maybe weren’t aware of. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Writing soothes the savage beast. I’ve been physically sick and writing has been so therapeutic for me. I love this post! I am so glad you found your way out. Thank you, Janna! (I love that name.) Best wishes to you.

    • Thank you, Robyn! It’s wonderful to hear that writing has been healing for you. Keep writing!

  • While sitting with my oldest daughter at bedtime one night, I started tapping a personal letter to all three of daughters using my iPad. It was supposed to be a heartfelt “life lessons” type of message that I wanted to share with them in case I never got the chance. A couple days later, I had the first draft of a book. It’s a self-examination and submission to a long-felt call upon my life. It explores dreams, baseball, shame, writing, and a near death experience along with a lot of other key life events. It also shows how each of those events had actually been building blocks to a much higher purpose. I haven’t set a date to publish yet, but probably will do so in 2015.

    • What a powerful experience, thank you for sharing! It sounds like you have a story that will benefit not only your daughters but also anyone who reads the book when it’s published–keep writing!

  • Phyllis A. MacDonald

    Thank you Janna for sharing your story. Showing your vulnerability and “humanness” allows me to care about you, not just your words. For me, that is what writing is….lighting a passion, an emotion, a moment in time when you become one with the words is an amazing
    thing. I too suffer from chronic depression which brought me to my knees in addiction. Ten years ago I chose to turn that around and writing has always been part of the therapy. Seeing how my writing has changed is a real testimony to my recovery process. Today where there was darkness I seek and find light and it shows in the positive way I approach my writing and my life. To touch someone with words is a blessing. You blessed me today with your story.

    • Thank you, Phyllis. It’s wonderful to hear that you have been able to recover and that writing has been a part of that process. I love that seeing how your writing has changed demonstrates that recovery–it’s so empowering to have written documentation of a journey like that to see your progress toward healing. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jessica Barrett

    Your writing is so poignant, raw and real. It’s refreshing to see that people are starting to bring their stories like this to light. I appreciate your vulnerability, it’s not easy to put yourself out there like that, but it makes those of us who also struggle feel like we’re not so alone. I loved that you were honest about your writing not always being a salve, I think that artists are commonly misunderstood that way, that their art works as their outlet/cure, but sometimes it’s their worst enemy if they’re not aware. I’m excited for you and your new book!

  • Excellent concept! Thank you so much!!! Lots to think about. . . and going to check out your book!

  • I didn’t write before my son died. We had twins both born premature, and only one of them made it. I started by recording a story of an adventure that both my boys could have together, which I eventually wrote down and worked on for three years. Working on it was about the only thing that got me through that first year.

    Now I write a random tax blog. Not quite sure why I moved from PIt A to Point B, but it keeps me going.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like writing was part of a healing journey for you, and that makes my heart a little less sad. Thank you for sharing.

    • TJ

      I’m sorry for your loss, that we share the same pain of losing our little ones. Sadly, the pain is consuming, but must be felt. We must surrender to it. Thank you for sharing even this much about your grief. More men could benefit from hearing your truth. Many suffer in silence because they feel neglected.

      • Thanks, TJ, I appreciate the comment. Sorry to hear about your loss. I feel like often it’s something we’re expected to hide. For a time I was hoping to publish my book to try to help others see there’s hope for recovery, though that plan’s currently on hold. It’s that fight between what you share and what you make public.

  • Janna, I enjoyed your post. In the end, we are the authors of our life story. Therefore, why would we craft a defeated, beaten narrative instead of an uplifting story of triumph? Clearly you chose triumph, which is now serving to help others along their path. Congrats!

    • Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, John. I love how succinctly you put it–that we have a choice is so important and the action of choosing is so powerful!

  • Teressa Pence Morris

    I so agree with you. I started blogging after my business failed and my family was forced to sell our house or face foreclosure. In everything I looked for the positives and before I knew it good things were happening. We still have some dark days, but they are fewer and further between, thank God. I am so grateful for the opportunities that writing has brought me!!

    • Hi Teressa, that is such a powerful experience–thank you for sharing! The “ah-ha” moment for me was when my therapist helped me to see that the story we tell ourself creates the reality we experience. If we keep telling ourself the negative story, that will be the reality of our life. But we have the power to change it, which is why I believe that revising the story is so, so important. It sounds like you have experienced that first hand. Thank you for sharing!

  • A person seeking freedom can only write about living free. Our past shouldn’t be our residence, only our reference.

    • Great perspective, thanks Janelle!

    • Keith

      I’ve been told: “History is guideposts, not a hitching post.”

  • Ashley Nance

    I wrote a book about growing up with a sister with Asperger’s Syndrome with the intention of it being something that could serve others. I was surprised and delighted by how therapeutic it was to go through that writing process – especially seeing it through to completion (I am one who tends to start many things and finish few). What you say about having words to revise is better than no words. I found that to be true over and over again – even though most of my experiences with my sister were mostly positive. It was so hard, when I turned in the final manuscipt, I thought I’d never write another book. But the more I live the more I realize that writing is god for me – and so is hard work – so I need to keep doing it! Thanks for sharing! (Also, if anyone is interested in my book, you can get a free chapter at my website https://www.ashley-nance.com)

    • Such a great story and congrats on your book. Thank you for sharing, Ashley!

  • Writing has proven therapeutic for me as well and I agree wholeheartedly that the real therapy and growth happen during the editing phase. I commend you for not settling, not giving up, and not thinking ‘this is my new normal’. Congratulations on your book and I wish you much health and good fortune.

  • Thanks, everyone for your wonderful and supportive comments. It has been so encouraging to read all of your individual experiences about how writing has helped you through a tough time in life. I’ve said this in a few comments below, but that “me too” moment is why I am so passionate about personal storytelling, so thank you all for giving me that today. And, thank you Jeff for allowing me to share on your blog. You have an amazing writing community!

  • Janna, thanks for sharing your personal story. Writing has been a personal psychiatrist for me. As a child, I was verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abused (if we use the current standard for physical abuse, i.e. a switch or belt). The result was internal scars that no one could see but that hurt as deeply as scars visible to the naked eye. I chose to be complacent, accept my due, and go on about life. But I always wanted my mother to show me she loved me, to affirm me as a person, and it never happened. Not until I was 57 years old and she was dying. I knew then that in order to heal I was going to have to find a way for my inner child, who had never had a voice, to speak the words and share the feelings she experienced. The only way I knew to do it was to write about it. I’m about 2/3 of the way through my first draft now, and I’m pleased to say that healing is taking place. The scars are slowly slipping away.

    • Sherrey, your story is so moving. It’s so important to give that inner child a voice and it thrills me to hear that you have found that through writing. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • JJ

    I know that writing has been a life saver for me, and I’m not exaggerating. My sister has menagerie of mental illnesses that make my home life extremely stressful to say the least. I went through a really rough patch and had some really awful thoughts. Everyone told me to go see a therapist or start a journal, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I started writing stories. They’re like a journal, but it also takes my mind off of the thought at hand. I’m not saying that someone in my shoes shouldn’t go see a doctor, but writing was what I needed, not medication

  • Johnnie Bruce

    Journaling has been my go to, words fail me but words written heal me https://livinglifeasithappens.weebly.com/

  • Rachel Miller

    Great post! I read this article because of the line Jeff tweeted, “A person who is healthy and strong doesn’t write about how miserable she is.” I always try to keep my posts upbeat and focused on the positive (focused on the Lord). While I mention obstacles, I don’t wallow in them. But, this summer has been such a roller coaster that every time I sat down to write I could find no way to clearly share what was happening and give assurance that the future of the ministry I write about was secure—because it wasn’t. After three months, I finally wrote what I felt expressed the truth while focusing on the hope that God will not quit, so neither will we. I had someone read it before I posted it, and she said it actually encouraged her. So, I posted it…Then I got a call. The person calling felt that I was “still depressed.” Sigh. I’m not depressed. I’m being honest. She was the only to respond that way. I’ve had many encouraging responses, but it surprised me that honesty was interpreted as depression. I think it’s important to write about the good, to focus on the positive, but it’s equally important to be honest with ourselves and our readers. If we deny our challenges, we have no means of presenting the victory of overcoming them. I think you do a great job of showing that in this post. You discuss where you were, what the struggle was, and how you found a way out. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Rachel, thank you for your comment! Honesty is very important and I think you’re brave for sharing your story. Don’t be discouraged by one person who misunderstands your meaning and keep writing what you believe will help others!

      • Rachel Miller

        Thank you for the encouraging words. I’m not discouraged, just contemplating something I have noticed this summer. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a response like this, and I think it reveals a dangerous life perspective. I’m beginning to see that often people require a denial of emotional pain as the truest expression of faith and strength—that is not healthy. When all this started, I had just completed the outline of a book that deals with God’s refining process in our lives…some of this will probably find its way in there. 😉

  • When I was a kid, I remember I used writing as a way to regulate my emotions whenever I was mad at something or someone. I’d write furiously in one of my notebooks, then come out feeling a bit better afterwards, because in my mind I felt as though I’d confronted the problem already (even though I did nothing of the sort). Writing can indeed be therapeutic, and your book sounds amazing Janna. I’ll be sure to take a look at it in the near future (especially since a close friend recently told me that he was battling depression).

  • This is the whole premise of Art from Ashes and our work with youth! Yay you! https://www.facebook.com/Art.from.Ashes

  • Sara Macias

    I’m having a problem with this post. I think depression is such an individual expression. How severe it is. Was it passed down? What home did you live in? Mental Illness is no trite condition. Neither is depression. I want to be sure that people who do struggle with depression know that taking drugs for depression is 100% okay. You are still legitimate. Stories of depression and freedom are not a one size fits all. I’d like to hear more about how you couldn’t get out of bed. What thoughts were you thinking? How as someone depressed or struggling with depression can I relate to your story? Because I think this post could be guilt inducing. A pull yourself up by your boot straps kind of post. And I think we need less of it.

    • Hi Sara, I write in more detail about my experience with depression in my ebook, and this post is specifically about how writing helped me recover. It’s not meant to be guilt inducing but rather to share my personal story of what has worked for me so that it might encourage and inspire others. Having struggled with debilitating depression, I have come to believe that controlling the negativity that plagues the mind is the most important thing we can do to recover, regardless of whether we also take drugs, and writing is a very powerful way to change the personal narrative that we have running in our mind.

  • While I can appreciate your journey and how writing has helped you. And while I also recognize how writing has also been therapeutic, I do not think it is the answer for everyone who struggles with depression and I feel this post generalizes depression and may give others who are on medication the message that they too, could make it without the meds.

    • That’s a fair point, Anne, and as someone who hasn’t dealt with clinical depression, I can’t speak to this. What I can address is why I had Janna contribute this article to my blog.

      What I wanted Janna to do, and what she did quite well in my opinion, is share her story of how she used creativity to help her heal. I don’t think she is saying in this story that other people don’t need medication, nor do I see her saying that writing is “the answer for everyone who struggles with depression.”

      What I do see her saying is, “Here is my story. Maybe it will encourage or inspire you.”

      I’m glad you bring up the other side, Anne, because of course I wouldn’t want anyone to read this and make rash choices with their health. But I also think it’s unfair to discredit Janna’s experience. For her (and for others, it seems, judging from the comments), writing can be quite therapeutic.

      • Jeff,
        I don’t think I was discrediting her experience. In fact, I started out saying I can appreciate it. And that I too, have found it therapeutic. Sorry if It sounded like I judged. That was not my intention.

        • Not at all Anne! Sorry if I made it sound like you were being judgmental. I didn’t intend to communicate. Your experience is just as valid as Janna’s. 🙂

    • Hi Anne, thanks for bringing up this point. Although I’m not addressing it explicitly here, I do address in my ebook the fact that my approach may not work for everyone. Anytime I share my story, as Jeff pointed out, I’m sharing from personal experience what has worked for me to encourage and inspire others. Having struggled with debilitating depression, I have come to believe that controlling the negativity that plagues the mind is the most important thing we can do to recover, regardless of whether we also take drugs, and writing is a very powerful way to change the personal narrative that we have running in our mind.

  • ANNIE EVE

    I think that in our society, there is a lot of confusion between depression (as a real mental disease) and our bad emotions. Depression needs to be faced with many options (drugs are a part of it, counseling too) and sometime it helps to be active in the process so writing can be good. But sometime writing is making the opposite effect because it can lead to isolation too, and self pity. So if you have just bad feelings (anger, sadness or melancoly, fears… write but if the diagnostic is depression be sure you really want to do it. Writing can be a very painful process and if you are left alone it can ruin your life and make your symptoms worse.
    Do what you really want and realize that healing is a process. Be kind with yourself and if you want to write find someone safe and full of love to share with.

    • Hi Annie, Thank you for your comment. I agree that writing can be isolating. One of the things I address in my ebook is that sometimes writing while depressed is unhelpful, because it can do the opposite of what I’m writing about here and reinforce the negativity. What I’m writing about here, though, is using writing as a tool to first become aware of the negative story we may have, to revise that story, and then to choose the story that we want.

      • ANNIE EVE

        Thanks for answering. I did write to express my anger and my pain. It helped me through the darkest hours of my life. So I understand what you mean. Blessings Janna

  • Janna…love how you decided to become more positive in your writing. Great point about how changing one word can change everything, like when you changed “I am unhealthy” to “I am healthy.” Being positive can change our whole focus on life for the better.

    • Hi Kent, thanks so much for the comment! (Also, funny about spelling Janna the right way–I don’t meet many people who do! haha)

  • Love this! Writing definitely helps to express yourself and a tool to heal you.

  • love this post.janna you became “healthy and strong” by writing.this is inspiration to me to overcome my obstacles.thank you,janna.

  • Rick Gabrielly

    Great post Janna. Thank you for this gift and inspirational message! xxoo

  • Travis Charlene Braucht

    Janna, I think if I’d have taken my feelings of depression to a doctor of some sort they would have recommended drugs because that’s kind of their business. If I told them I heard voices in my head I think they would have thought drugs were a good idea for me, but inside my own heart, mind, and soul I knew my problem was ultimately between me and God. I was choked at him and felt powerless in life about the cravings that drove me, the insanity of the world around me, the hopelessness I couldn’t overcome, couldn’t talk about, couldn’t seem to keep a grip on passing hopeful thoughts.
    Becoming deeply honest, asking forgiveness of those I’d wronged, and writing have all helped me tremendously without becoming medicated (for what ailed me). I went through time of hating scripture but working through all my problems with that relationship has opened up a love for scripture as well as other people I never had before.

    • Hi Travis, thank you so much for sharing–it is so powerful to hear from others with similar struggles who have also found writing as part of their healing journey. It’s encouraging to hear that you have made it through the dark stuff through to the other side. Keep writing!

  • Matthew

    Great post, Janna. I used to suffer from bipolar and depression and it was a long, tough journey out. I wish I would have tried writing, I believe it would have accelerated the process. I fought those ugly thoughts too and if only I would have turned them around, writing that I worth something rather than nothing, who knows what would have happened. Today I blog at http://www.matthewrennels.com but it is on the other side, looking back at my defeats and learning from them rather than being in them and suffering. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and thank you, Jeff, for bringing this important message to your site.

  • Dwight Hurych

    Thank you for sharing this article, Janna. I think you’ve touched on the very essence of why I write, and it’s nice to see I have company there.

    Back in 2008, I shared a story close to my heart to which I return once in a while to assess my growth, not necessarily in terms of writing volume, but in terms of following my heart.

    I am honored to share it with any readers who may be interested.
    https://www.revelationsforlife.com/2008/04/write-to-heal.html

    • Thank you, Dwight! I’m so glad you found this post and that it resonated with you!

  • Hey Janna,

    I can relate to a lot of the things you’ve said.

    But things have been different in my case – Suffering is my biggest inspiration.

    I usually did cope up with most of the problems using writing itself. I’ve had really awful things to deal with in life. Yet, I think that they’ve only left me stronger than I was. I still fight the most negative feelings inside me each time I write.

    Yes, I shed tears, feel self-pity too, and even feel down at times. But above all – being a superhero is my first priority.

    Once you’ve survived a disaster, you’ve got a story to talk about! (Never miss a chance to quote thyself)

    • This is so true, Vishal! And I find that sharing our story with others is part of the healing process, because it is in that telling and sharing that we find we are not alone.

  • sara jabr

    im 26 yrs old and i have been depressed for as far as i remember, i write to hoping that pouring out all what i feel will make me feel better at the end, but i always get stuck in the middle of my writings, which frustrates me, and eventually i end up crying for not being able to put down what i feel into words, i dont work not study, nor do i feel the will to simply live..

    • Sara, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been suffering with depression for a long time. I know that it’s not easy, and I’m not suggesting that writing is the magic trick that will solve it all. Rather, it was an instrumental part in my healing because it helped me become aware of the negative (untrue) stories that I told myself. There were definitely times that I needed more support than simply writing, and in those times I did seek the help of a professional certified therapist, which I would absolutely suggest when you feel stuck and like you are not making progress, cannot get beyond the negativity that overcomes the mind. I hope this is helpful.

  • KrL

    I’ve had severe clinical depression since I was 12. I spent many years taking creative writing classes and I thoroughly enjoy wiring articles regarding topics I know a lot about. I wrote an article about clinical depression the night after I helped my best friend through a serious bout of depression. Here is what I wrote about depression because we need to bring more awareness to this disease as a community. Here is what I wrote, raw and unedited…

    “Everyone has depression.” That’s the biggest bullshit I’ve ever heard. Sure, everyone gets sad, but it takes someone with legitimate clinical depression to understand another person with clinical depression.
    Yesterday, I had a very deep and important conversation with a close friend (no names mentioned) who has clinical depression and it meant the world to me. This person was not “dumping” anything on me. They just needed to talk to someone who gets it.
    When you have a friend who suffers from clinical depression, it isn’t something you just “deal with.”
    How do you manage to help a friend through a bout of depression? There’s no magic way to make them happy. They may put on a fake smile and pretend to get you off their back.
    That’s not helpful. You will not make them happy, even if you give them everything they’ve ever wanted. No. A person who’s going through serious depression needs someone there to be empathetic. Even if you’re not the one suffering, the best thing you can do is put yourself in their shoes and try to understand. Even if you stay there with them and empathize while said person cries, that’s more helpful than buying them things or telling them to cheer up because life isn’t so bad. If you don’t understand it, you don’t know that for that person, the world is falling apart around them, they feel totally hopeless, and it could be for no reason.
    So if you have a good friend who suffers from depression, don’t look at it as something you have to deal with when they go into bouts of lying in bed crying, not eating, etc. Be there for them. Don’t tell them everything is ok. Don’t try to cheer them up or make them fake a smile to make YOU feel better because it’s not about you. Empathize. Be there with them. Let them know they’re not alone. Let them be selfish.
    We can’t be happy all the time, regardless of how wonderful the day might be.
    That’s the best advice I can give to anyone who doesn’t suffer from clinical depression, but wants to help a friend in need. I hope this helps.

  • I
    love learning about natural remedies for depression.