How Writing Can Be The Best Therapy

How Writing Can Be The Best Therapy

I guess I always assumed I was alone.

Two weeks ago I wrote an article about struggling with Trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder that has resulted in my eyebrows being almost completely non-existent. I wrote about painting on my eyebrows every morning, I divulged how terrified I have become of mirrors, and I gave some advice on how to speak to people with TTM (aka don’t mention that they don’t have eyebrows as if they have never looked in a mirror before). I felt better after writing out my thoughts,  but I certainly didn’t expect the response I got.

My article got shared on social platforms across the Internet and suddenly my inbox was filled with positive comments ranging from my aunt offering her therapy expertise to a friend’s ex-boyfriend confiding in me that he too was a hair puller. I found out that one of the closest people in my life has struggled with TTM her whole life. I learned more than any google search or Psychology textbook could ever tell me. Suddenly, what once made me feel alone and insecure was a new way to connect with people. The response was so beautiful and positive it felt wrong to not address it. So, here I am saying thank you times a million for all those who reached out and to all those who live with this disorder.

It wouldn’t be a Hannah Rimm article without a little bit of therapeutic advice, so here we go. What this experience taught me the most is something I have always known, writing, for me, will always be my greatest outlet. Now, I have been writing my entire life. I have been telling stories since before I could spell and I find my greatest joy nestled between the pages of new notebooks. My writing and my mental illness have always existed alongside each other. I found words for my anxiety and depression by writing through my thoughts. Every heartbreak I have ever experienced has been written into song lyrics or tumblr posts or the margins of my math homework. Writing has always been my greatest therapy. Until it wasn’t.

After graduating college I fell into the slump of post-grad and I forgot how to write for myself. I pushed myself to write weekly articles for HelloFlo, but that came naturally because I was educating not diving deeper into myself. But when I got to New York City, a fresh new adult, I seemed to have left my pens in my childhood home. I began a full-time job and found new friends, I fell in and out of love, I did the online dating thing for the first time, and still I hadn’t written a new song since graduation.

And then I published an article about my biggest insecurity and it re-opened the flood gates. I have written two songs, a screenplay outline, and six poems since hitting publish. I haven’t had to count down the days until therapy because I have it at my fingertips again. So, if you are struggling with mental illness or maybe just a bad day, I challenge you to write about it. Even if it’s just two lines jotted on a napkin at lunch, write about it. Write through your hardships and your joy. Write about what hurts the most because it is in these moments of great vulnerability that the outpouring of support will come.

Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.