Writing and Mental Health: Maintenance

Sharon’s Note: Once again, this is based on my journey and observations. Your experience and mileage may vary. Warning: Any resemblance of the Author to a puppy of purely coincidental.

Physically, I’m kind of stagnant. I do what I can, but it is what it is. Mentally, this takes a toll. I’ve had my share of days where it was hard to get out of bed because ‘What was the point?’. I get anxious, and start thinking unproductive thoughts. Nothing really bad, but nothing helpful. 

So, this sounds unrelated, but stick with me.

Most any type of pet can have behavior problems due to anxiety. Dogs will start chewing or digging, parrots will pluck out their feathers, stuff like that. Destructive and self-destructive behavior. What do most experts suggest? Stimulation. 

Exercise is one I see most recommended, and it does help dogs and people alike. There’s a problem for me, though. I’m limited in the amount of physical activity I can do. It leaves a lot of room for thoughts to stray.

This leaves mental stimulation. Learning something new is good mental exercise, as long as you’re actually working at it. There has to be a certain amount of strain to see the benefit, like using weights. Or, you could polish an existing skill. It requires more work, but I think it’s worth it, so that’s what I do.

I’ve been writing inconsistently since junior high. Once I got out of college, I stopped writing for a while because I let life get in the way. Fast forward to when I was diagnosed with MS, and I lost my job (unrelated). I wasn’t in a good place, and if I didn’t do something it was going to get worse. So, I dusted off my writing skills, and wrote a book.

I’d never finished anything more than a short story before this, but I wrote out an outline to follow, gave myself a minimum word count per day to put a little stress on myself, and pulled the trigger. And you know what, it was hard, but I did it, and I felt better. As of the time I’m writing this, The book is getting beta read, and after I fix a few issues, I’m sending it out to agents.

 I keep writing because it’s good for me, but occasionally I can feel my brain misbehaving and I plan another heavy writing binge. I did it last year, and wrote a book in a month. I’m fixing to do it again to finish the sequel of the first book I wrote. It’s a never ending thing, but I see that as more of a cause for joy than dread. It’s a lot like life that way. In both cases, you just have to keep on going.

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