Writing For Wellness – How can it help your mental health?

I have tried to think of the perfect metaphor to describe how it feels when someone supports you with your mental health. Maybe you have never experienced this feeling before or maybe you have- in which case you’re already aware how it can often be a lifeline.

I have pondered over a metaphor to describe this support for a few days now and the one that won’t leave me alone – which usually means the one I should go with- is a kite. I have always loved kites, as a small child running wildly with one on a beach, watching it dance up high, carefree. Then suddenly it is whipped in a complete different direction, forcing you to quickly adapt; to accommodate this crazed piece of plastic riding precariously in the wind.

Some days there wouldn’t be enough wind and no matter how fast I ran, the damn thing still wouldn’t fly.. or some days- and these were the worst days- the kite would fly but the wind would be too strong; the kite string would tangle and come crashing down. I would sit on the floor and try to untangle the string, but I didn’t have the patience to see it through. The kite would be binned or buried somewhere in the garage amongst the other broken toys.

If this isn’t a metaphor for someone struggling with their mental health, then I don’t know what is. This also sounds like someone who had an idyllic childhood growing up in South Devon somewhere, doesn’t it? That is the trouble with metaphor and fiction- it is fiction, or in this case half fiction. I grew up in Doncaster and I did once have a kite that I loved. It is true that it got tangled and thrown in the bin. I also vaguely recall a beach at one point in time too.

I use the metaphor only for you to imagine for a small moment that you could be like the kite soaring high above the skies, but you could also be the string that supports the kite and prevents it from flying off into the abyss; becoming a tangled mess and crashing down to earth.

Writing for Wellness could bring the metaphor to life. It could be the kite, with the greatest part being that you’re holding the string. The very part that keeps you grounded, supported and in charge. Sure there is wind and conditions that are out of your control, but you showing up for the kite flying is the hardest part.

The workshop is just the kite shop, you have to come in and choose your kite, choose the day to try and fly it. You can be sure that even when the conditions are not quite right, there will always be others there flying their kites too. Some will be seasoned kite flyers, who have flown their kites in all manner of weather. Others will be like you, just starting out. Some peers will hold your free hand while you fly your kite, some will offer you a reassuring nod or smile, some will even show you their own tried and tested methods of kite flying. Some may even fly the kite for you, if you’d like.

Let’s take Nathan for example, a member of PFG (People Focused Group) who came to the first Writing for Wellness session during lockdown, he didn’t write anything for the first few weeks. Nathan barely spoken other than to say hello or goodbye. Over the coming weeks and with the support and guidance of the group, Nathan began to open up about his struggles. He began to feel validated and heard, in turn he began to express through writing. We could also look at Katie, a member of New Beginnings, who found a real passion for literature and writing. Katie went on to join other poetry classes and have her work exhibited at Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.

Now I’m not holding the key to this magical phenomenon. Yes, I facilitate groups in Doncaster; but that role is relatively minimal overall. The real gems are to be found within the group dynamics and how individual members role can shape the experience of others. Writing for Wellness is something you can do on your own too. I know large groups of people, either in person or on zoom, can be some peoples idea of hell – I am aware of the limitations. Although you would receive feedback from peers – which is where I see the real confidence building and sense of pride and wellbeing comes in – you can and will receive the initial cathartic release. This is the first stage and often enough for most people. Just pick up the paper and pen. Connect with your inner essence. Make friends with it, know it, nurture it and heal it. Fly the kite and send it soaring.

Kite by Tracey Cooper (PFG)

A tissue paper thin kite

Poorly Made

Yet still takes to flight

Like a bird, wings spread

Filled with delight

Strong and Powerful

Glides in the crisp blue sky

Then like a bolt of lightening

Comes crashing down

Crumpled, shattered

Stuck in the ground.

Pick yourself up.

Wind whispers then blows

And up once again

Strength you must show.

Graceful and elegant

Fearless and Free.

If you’d like to know more about Michele and Writing for Wellness click here

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