How Writing Self-Therapy Saved Me

It’s interesting how my stories trigger these posts, even when the posts aren’t directly about them. This is a post about how the best therapy I’ve ever received was my own writing and how that led to creating my own self-therapy plan when the plans others created failed, one after the other.

Pannulus. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

The inspiration for this post came from dialogue I recently wrote for Following the Essence Stone. The topic was about primary and secondary controls on potions in Pannulus. Primary controls include regulating the activating ingredient, potions shops, and potion dens. There’s also investigating the illegal manufacture of potions. Secondary controls require monitoring other key ingredients and watching for irregularities. In the story, there’s a bill introduced that would abolish or weaken the secondary controls.

That led to me thinking about the primary and secondary controls available to me for managing my anxiety/depression, which has many of its roots in Childhood PTSD, but not all.

*Please remember that this is about ME. Christina Anne Hawthorne. INFJ Myers-Briggs Personality Type. HSP. Demisexual. There are a host of other labels, too. My particular mix of issues, strengths/weaknesses, and experiences is why all this applies to me, but not necessarily you.

For others, typical primary controls would be medication and therapy. I’ve never failed to have a swift and severe reaction to every anti-depressant I’ve ever been administered. I had limited success with therapy when I saw someone for a specific issue over a decade ago. Since then, it’s failed miserably.

How so? Over the last decade, all therapy has done is act as a trigger. As an INFJ, reliving the past is abhorrent when my focus is more on self-improvement, on striving to become a better version of myself and not a better version of my past. Each session became the first step in a downward spiral.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

I also have secondary controls, all of which were developed or selected by me, not a therapist. They include exercise, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, positive self-talk, proper sleep (a weakness), diet, and various forms of writing. Also critical is avoiding triggers. There are more, but those are central to protecting myself.

It’s interesting that when I’ve most often had to employ my secondary controls was after therapy sessions. Yes, that doesn’t see right to me, either. It’s led to my being more self-aware, to noting the negative mile markers that signal spiraling has begun.

The next step in my self-therapy evolution was recognizing how vital one of my secondary controls was in-particular. Writing is immediate, always available without an appointment, can be utilized in different ways, and provides the higher level of self-satisfaction that leads to greater self-esteem. After all, a therapist isn’t really my friend, they’re a paid professional. Me, on the other hand? I get the opportunity to be my own best friend.

So, I journal. I make lists that organize my thoughts. Most of all, though, I write fiction where my heroines solve their problems and show me how it’s done. They most often succeed with the help of friends that a therapist isn’t going to supply me.

On the surface, fantasy stories are an escape. As an INFJ, though, I want more than that. I want more than escape. I want a deeper experience. I want heroines with positive arcs who must face their issues and create found families in a world where real compassion exists.

Thus, Ontyre is a world where there’s someone who’s willing to intercept the seventeen year-old girl fleeing for her life down the street and try to help her.

In my case, I ran at a similar age and no one helped. Seven years ago, I did the same and had, in the end, a similar result. That was when I decided there had to be a better way for me. Now, right now, I can make it better for one fictional girl who (hopefully) someday will end up a story in the hands of someone who also needs someone to intercede.

That’s purpose, and there’s no more rewarding therapy than that. It’s also turning my bad experiences into something good. It’s helping others. It’s packaging compassion and self-help with entertainment.

Purpose, you see, turned out to be the drug I needed, the highway where all the mile markers were positive. Purpose was riding on that highway, not backwards, but forwards. Self-growth. Self-improvement. Purpose. Rather than dwelling on the past, I thrive in the present to help someone else in the future.


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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