Writing About Your Pain Or Illness Can Be Helpful

I first started writing after retiring from work due to my health when I was 28. For me, it was an enjoyable distraction. My mind was always thinking about my pain but when I was writing, it changed. I wrote poems and stories which took me to another world. There was no pain in that world. A couple of poems were published in anthologies and some others were published in newspapers. When they were published, I felt ecstatic and it gave my self-confidence such a boost.

But writing can be so much more than just a distraction. For people who live with chronic pain or illness, writing can be extremely helpful. It can be therapeutic and cathartic. And writing about it can also teach you more about your pain, illness or emotions.

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.

That blog was like a release valve. I wrote about my pain and my emotions. 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.

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

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 About Your Pain or Illness 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

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 think about 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.

Writing about pain or illness can be helpful. Picture of a notepad and pen. There are dried flowers petals scattered on the paper.

How to Start Writing About Your Pain or Illness

You could keep a diary or journal or write a blog. You can make it private or let someone read it. A blog can also be kept private or you can allow a specific audience or you can make it public.

Click here if you’d like to write a blog, but don’t know where to start

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.

Read the letter I wrote to my pain

What to Write

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.

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 Pain or Illness

  • 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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58 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

  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.

  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.

    1. “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.”

      This is exactly why I started a blog. I no longer wanted to feel like I was bothering my husband about my pain. I have been deteriorating lately and I just can’t bring myself to burden him any more than I already have. I know he’s very understanding but I know he can only relate so much (he has celiac disease). It’s just nice getting it out there knowing someone might be able to relate and actually understand.

  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.

      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!

    1. Hi, thank you for your kind words and for sharing with your friend. So sorry to hear what he is dealing with, but he sounds as though he is doing so with grace.

  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

  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

  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.

  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.

    1. You’re right, there are few places online (less offline!) for sufferers of rare diseases. Well done for starting a blog about your condition and I’m really pleased that it has helped you as well as helping other people.I hope those young students will find you.

  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

  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

  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!

  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

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  16. Hope Westley-Linington

    I just wanted to say thnak you for being here. I was having a particularly isolated day and decided to search out some help. I have a list of conditions as long as my arm and I have just started to journal. It does help me somewhat. I will continue to follow you for more inspiration, thank you again!

    1. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment Hope. It can be so difficult living with chronic health problems, so I really hope journalling does help you. Please don’t feel isolated – there are a lot of people like yourself out there. You’re never really alone when we have the internet at our fingertips. If you use Facebook, look up my page there and say hi.

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  19. That is so true. I have fibromyalgia and some chronic illnesses. I love writing. It helps get the neg feelings out of my head and on paper. When you keep it al inside makes you feel worse .

  20. Jollie

    My husband encouraged me, and told me not to lose hope, I manage to give birth to a baby Boy who was free from this virus, and my Husband was always there for me! One day he came to me and told me that he have found a man who can cure me. Base on scientist, they said there is no cure for Herpes virus; he told me that he has seen many testimonies about him on the internet. We decided to contact him, we filled his Herbal home form, and he asked us to buy some local root and herbs items which we did! and he prepared for me a herbal medicine and 14 days later he asked me to go for medical test, faithfully hopefully i went for the medical test, and Behold, I was cured, from this virus and its was not found in my Body system again… God will surely bless you Doctor till the end of time, in Jesus name.. Contact him now for a herpes cure with the infection listed and not listed, for Natural Remedies.___________________ robinson_bucler ((@ yahoo. co m)) …………

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