Writing About Your Pain Or Illness Can Be Helpful

Writing about pain or illness can be helpful, therapeutic, cathartic. Feather pen and ink

I first started writing after retiring from work due to my health when I was 28. I enjoyed it. It was a good distraction. I wrote poems and stories which took me to another world away from my pain. A couple of poems were published in anthologies and some others were published in newspapers. My confidence got a boost. When they were published, I remember doing a few happy dances during an otherwise difficult time.

But writing can be so much more than just a distraction. For people who live with a chronic health condition, writing can be helpful. It can be extremely therapeutic.

Writing became therapeutic for me

Several years ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult time with my trigeminal neuralgia, I started writing a blog. I had never been in the habit of talking much about my pain. I gave the standard, “I’m fine,” answer when people asked how I was. My family knew that I wasn’t fine, but that standard answer was easier than explaining. But you can only go for so long saying that. Sometimes you need to say how you really feel. And that’s where my old blog came in useful.

Cathartic

It helped me. It was like a release valve. I talked about the pain, but I also got a lot of emotions out of my system by talking about how I was feeling. It didn’t matter if nobody read it. It only mattered that I wrote it. I simply needed to say, “you know what, some days I feel crap.” It was cathartic.

I shared my blog in trigeminal neuralgia support groups and people wrote to me and said that I’d written exactly how they felt. They said that they’d had problems explaining their pain. They let their families read my blog, telling them it was exactly how they felt.

Blogging about my pain had not only helped me, but it had helped other people too.

Writing about our illness, can help other people as well as ourselves. Therapeutic. Person writing journal.

I wrote about other subjects in that blog too – life, family, pets, even politics. Eventually, I wrote more about the other subjects and less about my pain. I think that was a sign that the ‘writing therapy’ was working.

How writing can be helpful

Writing can be cathartic

Writing about our illness is almost as though we are giving ourselves permission to open up. Very often, people really need to get thoughts and feelings out of their systems, but don’t want to talk. Putting them onto paper is an excellent alternative. They can let off steam, vent anger and frustrations, write about their worries and fears.

Writing can teach you about your pain and emotions

Writing about pain or illness can be helpful, therapeutic and cathartic. Writing teaches us about our pain and emotions.

When people get into the habit of keeping a journal, a diary or blogging about their illness, they begin to pay more attention to what’s going on in their bodies. They might notice patterns and triggers.

Sometimes people don’t realise what emotions they are dealing with. But once they start writing, they start to examine their own feelings more. Once they know what they’re dealing with, they can find ways of coping.

Writing can help bring acceptance

Coping with a new diagnosis is often frightening and very difficult to accept. Often writing about it can help. Sometimes, everything becomes a jumbled mess in a person’s head, so writing down facts and fears can be a starting point to finding a way ahead.

Writing can help bring closure

Writing about surgery or a frightening illness can help to bring closure. If they write about how serious the operation or illness was and how they felt, both physically and emotionally, a person can often put it in the past and start to look forward.

Writing can help others understand

It’s often easier to write than to talk. Talking about their problems can become too emotional and only part of the story is told. That means that only part of the story is heard. When people take their time to write, they can say everything that needs to be said. This allows other people to read and really digest what’s been written so they can understand more.

Writing can help other people

People feel less alone with their health problems when they know other people live with the same issues. Reading someone else’s words, can also help them to explain their own health to their family.

Writing can help a doctor understand

When people get into the habit of writing about their pain or illness, they become more familiar with explaining it which will help when talking to their doctor. It can help them to realise the questions they need to ask their doctor.

Writing can put things into perspective

Sometimes when we see things written down, we can take a deep breath, then look at it more calmly and rationally.

Therapeutic writing. Journal or blog or write a letter to your illness. Feather pen, ink and letter.

Ways to write about your health

Keep a diary or a journal or write a blog. A journal would normally be private, unless you choose to let someone read it. A blog can also be kept private or you can allow a specific audience, or you can make it public. Writing a blog can be completely free of charge.

You don’t need to journal or blog about it. You could simply write a letter to your pain or illness. Tell it exactly what you think of it. Tell it how it makes you feel. Tell it that you’d like it to be more considerate. Or tell it that you will listen to it more so you can try to get on with each other better.

Write about your pain or illness, and any worries, fears and anxieties you have. Ask yourself questions like what’s the hardest part of your illness, what scares you about it and what’s your biggest fear. Sometimes, acknowledging those thoughts and fears can be a step towards dealing with them.

Journalling or blogging about pain or illness, try to write about good days as well as bad.

Try not to only write about bad days. Write about good days too. Try to find something positive every day and write about that. Very often we are bogged down by negatives in our lives, so it’s important to seek out positives.

Things to remember about writing about your health

  • It is sometimes easier to write it than say it.
  • Nobody needs to read what you write unless you want them to.
  • Don’t hold back – write exactly how you are feeling.
  • It doesn’t matter about spelling or punctuation if you are writing to help yourself.
  • A few words or a few pages – it’s up to you.
  • There are no rights or wrongs when you write for this purpose. Do what feel is right for you.

Do you write and do you find it helps you? Or do you think that writing could help you? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section.

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40 thoughts on “Writing About Your Pain Or Illness Can Be Helpful

  1. Mark Kent

    i have m,e. migraines .long list health issues ..people never see the every day effects .most
    people are very Snotty Nosed with there views…i take part in a lot lot research..
    have very bad Allergies .carpol tunnel syndrome the list goes on
    my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com
    twitter.supersnooper

    Like

  2. This is so true. Writing is a true form of therapy. Even without health issues, writing can help to put things into perspective when you take the time to write out the details and thought processes.

    Like

  3. KeshiaRichmond

    I am sure writing about your pain or illness is helpful. I could probably get some benefit from doing this. Seems a little scary in that you would have to relive it to a degree.

    Like

  4. Reading your posts motivates me to look at life beyond boundaries. Just forwarded to my friend in London who is fighting cancer for close to 15 years braveheartedly. Runs his charity for children.

    Like

      1. erica3639

        I’m always terrified to hit the publish button when I write something really personal or painful. It is definitely easier to write than talk about though. But the fact I can help others is why I do publish them. This is also why I love reading your blog. You help so many people with similar stories to not feel alone and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Great post, Elizabeth!

        Like

  5. fourcolu

    on the dot. People always ask what do you get out of writing. I always say cathartic and therapeutic. What a wonderful post about how writing can help you and really it is a wonderful way to deal with so many feelings and emotions. great post

    Like

  6. Lyosha Varezhkina

    I agree. Learning about other people’s life is a great example of helping people without much trouble. Just knowing you are not alone helps me a lot

    Like

  7. I too have Trigeminal Neuralgia along with Fibromyalgia and several other major health issues. I blog about Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness and find the writing to be so therapeutic too. Just getting the words out is helpful for managing my pain, and when I find someone who can identify, it makes me feel good to know that I’ve helped them.

    I pinned this post…thanks for all you do, and I wish you the best with your health.

    Like

  8. I started my blog because there was no where for people with my disease to go to other than facebook. Sadly with a rare disease doctors treat ya like a nut case. I have been able to provide a place for others to learn if life is possible with this disease. I have come to use my writing to accept my new normal. I hope readers get something from it and have said to my readers let your doctors know you are not alone. Maybe some young student will look up the topic of Tarlov Cysts and come across my blog, maybe the interest bug will bite them.

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  9. When I started blogging I felt increasingly better. It was the beginning of a better life. Although it was not the only measure and I had medication and treatments, my pain is now 75% better. And this fall my 6th book about chronic pain will be published (3 in US, 3 in my home country the Netherlands)
    Wish you all well, Anna Raymann

    Like

  10. Hi! I completely agree with this post – I’ve felt so much better mentally after I started blogging. It’s also come in very useful in doctors appointments and helped me with the brain fog.

    I love your posts and have nominated you for the Disability Blogger Award. You can find your nomination and the rules on Chronillicles.

    Thank you so much for sharing all the information on this post. It can benefit so many people.

    Happy blogging! Georgina from Chronillicles

    Like

  11. I started writing for a similar reason.. not an illness, but bad moment of my life where I felt lonely and sad. It was somehow hard to talk about my feelings, so I began writing on a journal, and it felt so liberating! You’re right: you start paying closer attention to what happens, to better identify your emotions and needs. Keep going!

    Like

  12. It’s wonderful you’ve found writing to be so cathartic and important in your life, and I totally agree with it being like a release valve. Not only can it do us a world of good ‘getting it out there’, it can help others to understand, to raise awareness, to let those struggling through the same to know they’re not alone. Lots of benefits to writing about pain and illness that I think can often go under-appreciated. You’ve covered it all brilliantly!
    Caz xx

    Like

  13. Pingback: Day 25 of 31 Day Blogging Challenge - The Prepping Wife

  14. Pingback: What is Life Like with Chronic Pain? – Despite Pain

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