Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy
by Brian Francis Heffron
For me this question really hits home. You see, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I have had it for a long while and it is no fun. It makes it hard to trust people. You sometimes mistake kindness for an attack. It confuses those around you that love you. You are always looking for peril, head on the swivel. Your snake brain is always there in front of you like a filter between you and life. None of these things are good for a calm, serene healthy life….So, I write. I write poems about the pain of PTSD. I explain the way it feels not to trust and to mishear what people say.
And now that I look back on the writing of Colorado Mandala, I see it was a subconscious attempt at self-healing. I wrote the first draft at Emerson College when I was a student their in their prestigious writing program in the 1970s. My writer-in–residence, and instructors, were American treasure the novelist Russell Banks and Viet Nam novelist Tim O’Brien. It seems I took something from both. Ina nay case I would write a chapter and take it in for their review and criticism. I don’t know how I made it all the way through but I did.
Then something happened and I had to get out of Boston right after graduation and so I went to sea as a deckhand delivering sailboats all over the North Atlantic. I left the manuscript with friend and when I returned it more or less slipped my mind as I got married, had a wonderful daughter and built a career as a screenwriter and Television Director/Producer.
Last summer, after years of therapy working on my own PTSD I remembered Colorado Mandala and pulled it out. I had it retyped and began to rewrite it incorporating any and all of the wisdom I may have acquired in the intervening years. Again, self-healing through writing. There is even a branch of science that focuses solely on the use of text as a healing element and it is called “Bibliotherapy”. Colorado Mandala is that. It is a novel that heals. A kind of therapeutic tool that brings the reader into a world he or she recognizes and that soothes.
The idea that my book could actually help other people afflicted with PTSD makes me so happy. And this is what the Psychologists are now saying.
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Genre – Literary Fiction
Rating – PG