The first few months or so after I gave birth to my first child were a blur of sleepless nights, days without a decent shower, and scrambling to eat to keep up with the never-ending hunger I felt from constant breastfeeding.
I was often exhausted, overwhelmed, angry, sad and confused.
New motherhood brought on a slew of emotions I had little experience with before I had kids.
I needed a way to process those emotions — to make sense of what I was experiencing — so, I turned to writing.
I started this blog in 2013, shortly after I made the decision to leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom.
My first entries were short, often nonsensical ramblings, I never intended many people to see. Though, I guess, subconsciously, I was hoping others would read it, otherwise I would have stuck with an old-school journal.
Regardless of my intent, getting my thoughts about parenting out of my head and on to the screen helped me to work through some of the harder parts of motherhood.
Writing might seem like a simple solution, but for me and others, like Kimberly Zapata, the founder of Greater Than Illness, there is so much more to writing than words on paper.
Kimberly has masterfully transformed her own experience with mental illness into powerful pieces of writing which have inspired millions. Her honest, unfiltered take on suicide, depression and other tough topics have helped many know they aren’t alone.
Of course, writing can be a deeply personal experience, and many aren’t ready to share their words with the world.
As a child, my diary was often my solace. I jotted down my darkest thoughts, my silliest crushes, and everything in between. At a time when vocalizing my feelings was difficult for me, journaling helped me make sense of a confusing world.
Today’s world is even more confusing and scary for children, and for those who experience depression, anxiety and other mental illness, coping with this reality can be a daunting task.
To help young people make sense of their feelings, and to provide a safe space for them to share their thoughts, Greater Than Illness works with schools to provide after-school writing programs.
Expressing themselves through poetry, prose, essays and other forms of writing is a great way for kids to work through their emotions. Along with therapy, medication and support, writing is another valuable tool for improving the lives of young people with mental illness.
I don’t seek to tell others stories, but from what I have seen from many of my friends in my own writing community, sharing your thoughts can be more than cathartic, it can be lifesaving.
Writing helps people tell their story in their own terms, in the format which best suits them. By providing a space free of judgement and full of encouragement, Greater Than Illness is giving kids an outlet they may not have otherwise pursued, and the acknowledgement that their voice matters.
By supporting Greater Than Illness, you can help Kimberly and her staff provide young people with the gift of writing and the power to help them know they are more than mental illness, they are worthy and deserving of a fulfilling life.