Sunday, July 05, 2009

TO WRITE: Going from Bad to Better
I left the blogosphere for a number of weeks recently due to some unexpected health problems, and I'm very, very pleased to be back. I'm also relieved that my problems were not of the mental/brain variety -- not only are those every bit as miserable, in my experience, but they are my personal nemesis, my challenge, my dark hole. No, I had gall bladder problems, including some complications, hospital time, and surgery. And I'm fine now.

All of this got me to thinking. . . what pulls you through when you are ill with mental/brain or other physical illness? I was blessed to have a supportive husband and insurance that covered most of the expenses, and I lucked into good doctors in the hospital and the OR. But I realized too that, despite a lot of pain, I wasn't as flustered as the staff seemed to think I'd be. The thing that left me on an even keel was all the depression, psychosis and suicidal times I've been through. I know what pain feels like. I have gotten through before, and I'll do it again. Mental illness has toughened me.

Play with this. . .

Writing continuously for at least 20 minutes total, describe a time you felt seriously ill in any way. Then describe what treatments, people, creative outlets, past experiences, rituals, mind-sets or other factors helped you through. Did you just need a certain amount of time to heal? Did hope or sheer determination help?

Finally, how can you apply these tools the next time you feel significantly depressed? It may be useful to keep a list of these resources in the back of your notebook or another safe place to refer to later. When you need such a tool, write about it for 10 minutes first to remind yourself how it feels, reengage with it, and plan how to put it to its best use.


Harker said...

Hi Elizabeth

I have read your book and have used some of your ideas and suggestions in establishing an on-line expressive writers group for cancer survivors.

I am in Melbourne, Australia. The group is made up from people all over Australia.

I just want you to know that you are a srtrong influence on what I am doing at the moment in my life.


Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph.D. said...

Hi Harker,

Thank you so much for your message! I'm thrilled to be of some help, even at such a distance.

It sounds like you've developed a great community that will help a lot of people as they make this particular life transition. Great work!

If you're not familiar with her already, you may want to check out two books by Sharon Bray. She writes about healing writing groups specifically for cancer patients. She's on Amazon.

I wish you the very best with your group. Please keep me posted on how it is going.


Harker said...

Thanks Beth

I will keep you informed. Maybe we can invite you to be a guest blogger in a little while? The Cancer Councul Victoria manages and moderates our group.


Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph.D. said...


I'd be pleased to guest blog sometime.


Harker said...

Hi again Elizabeth

If it is a good time for you, we'd like it if you joined our on-line cancer survivors writers group for a few weeks, maybe starting in early October.

How about you introduce your self in a post and members can respond. The natural exchanges should take it somewhere interesting from there.

The group is accessed by invitation. If you go to this page on the site

and scroll down to the Expressive Writing Group, you'll see a link to kate@cancervic

If you send her a message saying hello she will link you in to us.
I'm really looking forward to having you as a guest blogger for a little while.



Hugh Kiernan,
Melbourne, Australia)

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