Four years ago, I stumbled into therapeutic writing. I joined a writing class for those with disabilities, and enjoyed it immensely. When I look back at that work, I note that my writing was at a beginner’s level, but even so, it served a therapeutic purpose. It is not how well you write, but rather that you explore life through the written word that makes it therapeutic.
I have had depression for twenty-five years. In 2004, I was involved in a serious accident which resulted in permanent disability. The notebook and pen have helped rebuild a meaningful life and led to joy and success I had never imagined. A powerful therapeutic tool, writing allows a look at the past, evaluation of the present, and dreams of the future.
Prior to discovering writing’s therapeutic value, the last writing course I had taken was Basic Composition in college twenty-five years ago. I had not written since college, and had never studied poetry, but as I began to read that of others, I fell in love with it.
When I started writing, my friends quickly tired of me asking them to read my work. I found an online writing community where I not only learned much about writing, but have also found support and friendship with writers across the country and around the world.
I have taken a few online poetry classes and belong to a weekly writing group. In the past year, I have had several poems published in literary journals. Some of those published are about disability while others are not. Recently, I have developed a particular interest in Japanese poetic forms.
Writing is a wonderful way to explore self, and to communicate and learn from others. Writing also shows that I am still here, and my thoughts do matter. Writing, like any art, is a challenge and there is always more to learn.
My first book, ‘The Disability Experience,’ (2011) includes work from the first two years after I discovered therapeutic writing, and has both poetry and short non-fiction works about disability. ‘The Disability Experience II’ focuses mostly on the first three years after surviving the accident, a period of time I call ‘The Aftermath’. This was a time of profound change in lifestyle as I worked through the stages of grief to slowly reach some degree of acceptance. Nearly every aspect of my life was impacted by physical disability. Learning to cope was a difficult and not always graceful process.
Writing has helped me continue to work through these issues as well as others in my life. I write primarily poetry, so have also included a selection of poems I’ve written since my first book. My three goals for this book are:
1) To let others with disabilities know they are not alone.
2) To give the non-disabled a chance to see into our world.
3) To show the therapeutic value of writing in dealing with illness.