Writing is an important part of overcoming panic disorder and agoraphobia, and I’ll tell you why. As you’re working on your recovery program, you’re doing a lot of research and thinking and then writing about it in your journal. The hour of the day you dedicate to reading about brain science and panic attacks will produce an abundance of material to comprehend and digest. Your job as a journal writer is to select what is of best use to you and condense the information to fit in your journal. Think of writing in such a way that the essence of what you learned is now on the page in your hand in a style that will be easy to read and learn from months later.
As a journalist I sometimes faced hundreds of pages of material related to a story I was working on, and had to learn to find the good stuff quickly. Decide on some buzz words of specific things you want to learn about and then you’ll soon spot whether a particular article or book will be helpful to you. Getting things right when you’re reading and interpreting someone else’s point of view is not easy. Your job as a writer is to take the time to understand what you’re reading or hearing. As a journalist you can, believe me, be deeply embarrassed when something you wrote turns out to be wrong and it’s your fault. As a personal journal writer you don’t face that kind of pressure of course, but that doesn’t eliminate the moral need to seek the truth in everything you read and hear.
Your amygdala creates firestorms based on apparently flimsy and even false information, and that is your basic problem. You have panic attacks because your alarm system no longer knows how to interpret data and must be reprogrammed. This time you’ll want to do it right, so make sure you comprehend what you’re finding in your daily research projects and passing along to your subconscious.
I never fully understand something until I write about it. Writing is a process and that’s what’s good for you about writing. When you read things they pass on by and you remember particulars here and there, but when you write about what you read, you read in a different way; you kind of process the information . When I’m reading about something in order to write about it, I become inclined to see the big picture more clearly because I want to produce a story (blog) that will hit the mark. Write clearly and thoughtfully and you will be served by what you write – as may others if you publish in some way.
I recommend you start your recovery program by writing a piece in your journal explaining what you think caused you to become ruled by the fear of having a panic attack. Recall any early fearful feelings and talk about what your environment was like then. This can be the “before” of you and you’ll get to compare that with “after” when you recover and write about it.
Once you get your recovery project underway and are writing regularly, I have an assignment for you. I want you to read aloud everything you write. Does it sound just like you? It should because your journal is your voice and your voice should sound like you – otherwise it won’t seem real. If your writing doesn’t sound conversational or like you, it’s probably because you have the dreaded fear of writing. Even I, who loved language and reading from early on and spoke and wrote well, hated English class as it was taught all too often. Conjugating sentences should not be allowed under the Geneva Convention rules on torture. Learning that way promotes stiff and formal writing in my humble opinion.
I believe the best way to teach “English” or any language is to treat it as a spoken as well as written language, so that students hear what they write. The best way to learn to write is to write (and read read read). Shortening of the language for technological reasons may be doing harm to the written word and the future of literature. More about that in a later post, but for now I’d like you to focus on creating a clear, conversational writing voice if you don’t already have one. Your overall communication skills will be improved immensely when you write in the vernacular, meaning the common voice – the sort of language you would hear in your particular society every day.
To be blunt, I’m reading things online written by obviously English speaking people that make them sound barely literate. I’m sure they are well-spoken people who are losing the skill of writing in a flowing, descriptive, conversation like manner. If paper disappears, clear writing will become even more important with so many online voices misinterpreted perhaps because of fractured syntax. Just a theory… I’d love to hear what others have to say about the future of written language.
All of this is to emphasize that your writing will help save you – if you write clearly, with passion and compassion.