When Writing Demanded I Heal from Childhood PTSD

Purpose. Commitment. Commitment to purpose. Fulfilling purpose requires the right tools and resources, both as a person and a writer. 2020 wasn’t just a year to assess, but a test. Entering the year, I had big expectations, but then Covid-19 teamed up with my fragile mental health.

Pepper. My childhood companion. Photo: CAHawthorne

More important than adversity is our response to it.

It’s my responsibility to acquire the tools and resources required to produce stories and share them. After all, no one is going to write my tales for me, nor would I want them to.

For far too long I’ve taken the opposite approach to my mental health, with infrequent exceptions. I’ve ignored that without the tools and resources necessary to maintain adequate mental health my writing would crumble.

After over three months of believing my efforts were adequate, and having landed in lockdown in March, I crashed in April. It wasn’t pretty.

But it was life changing.

In the midst of the worst of my depression and despair, I remembered my purpose. I held it close. I saw the truth. Lacking purpose was the equal of emptiness. I didn’t have to look any farther than my own novels to know that truth.

It’s the place where Riparia is residing when Trust in the Forgotten opens.

In the midst of my personal dark night of the soul, 2020 switched from catastrophe to opportunity. It became a gateway to a different future.

What if?

What if my productivity had been what it should have been from January through June? What if, rather than hoping for the best with my childhood PTSD, I healed and learned the tools I needed to remain that way?

A counselor would tell me I needed to talk about that—and talk and talk and talk. My INFJ self said, NO.

NaNoCover: CA Hawthorne
NaNo Cover: CA Hawthorne

Enough!

It might seem defining moments come my way on a schedule, but I assure you it’s a coincidence…

In 2005, I left a tortured, painful life behind. That required blowing up my present and picking up the pieces afterwards.

In 2010, the doctors told me the rest of my life would be spent on oxygen. My demanding a different course took me to Denver and the treatment that saved my life.

In 2015, I decided being a writer whose writing was good enough wasn’t good enough.

In 2020, I vowed to find a way to initiate the healing process. Life is finite. My purpose couldn’t wait forever.

In late May, I resumed walking (I’d stopped doing most everything). On May 31st I took up yoga. Almost right away that positive step lifted my heart and cleared my vision. It was time to assess, learn, nurture what was good, and weed out what was toxic.

I already had experience with meditation and mindfulness, but had let both wither. They needed to resume. I fired Depression as my personal chef and ate healthier.

YouTube became my new best friend for a good reason. It was already where I was learning about yoga. It became my source for finding the right advice from people who believed in healing, not maintaining the status quo.

I soon learned I wasn’t crazy. It was possible to take control.

I drastically reduced my time on social media and limited my news intake. Further, I moved my phone out of the room when I was working.

In July, I set a personal editing record. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was a positive sign. My attitude was better, my head clearer.

There were also steps to remove anything or anyone toxic in my life. In early autumn I left Facebook. I’ve spent zero minutes regretting it.

I became more self-aware of my own habits and was horrified. My self-talk was poison. Not only was there almost continual doom and gloom about the future, but I discovered I disparaged myself at most every turn.

Yup, you messed it up again, didn’t you Christina? Why can you never get that right? Is there anything you can’t fail at? Why make the effort, you’ll just get it wrong? After all, it always goes wrong for you.

On and on it went.

I know exactly who the authors of my self-talk were. In the present, though, it’s up to me to silence those Childhood PTSD voices. In counseling those sources would be discussed—over and over and over again on a never ending hamster wheel.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Healing demanded changing the self-talk.

Now? Christina and I have little talks where I encourage and reassure. Sound silly? Maybe, but it’s working. After all, if I don’t do it, who will?

When my computer crashed in September, instead of disparaging myself, I immediately launched into self-care. In the end, the disaster turned into a positive experience. My methods worked. When NaNo rolled around my computer was back and I was ready.

After drafting a novel, I drafted multiple novellas. Along with my short stories, they’re key to constructing anthologies.

I’m healing. My writing is thriving, as is my gratitude. All because I’m constructing a framework of self-care, rewriting my self-talk, and stacking mental health success. That means a firmer foundation upon which to write and pursue my purpose.

Talking has its place, but for this INFJ, so does personal responsibility for my own mental health, and that means actively pursuing healing.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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