How Writing Brings Healing to Individuals with Chronic Illness and Pain (With Healing Writing Prompts)

posted in: Chronic Pain, Personal Growth | 0

By Esther Smith

journalingWhen I first started to blog, I had no idea the immense amount of healing it would bring into my life. I can’t really remember what prompted me to begin posting online. All I remember is sitting down one day and writing about telling our chronic pain stories and my personal description of chronic pain. It felt amazing to get those words on paper, and on a whim, I decided to start a blog. 

I began posting my thoughts online and started getting comments and responses. I wrote more and began to gain insight into my pain that helped me move forward physically and emotionally. People started saying, “I feel exactly the same way,” and knowing that I was not alone in my experience was a healing balm to my soul.

I have gained so much from writing about my chronic pain, that I recommend it, in some form or another, to anyone who has chronic illness and pain.

Here are the benefits I have gained from writing about my experience.

Writing has allowed me to process my grief.

When I write, I often feel a sense of emotional release. I often write when I am feeling depressed, angry, especially happy, upset, or bawling my eyes out. These are the times I most want to write. As I mention in my most recent book, I believe this is because writing can function as a form of grieving.

Writing helps me take all that I am feeling and release it to the world. It helps me get the tangled mess of emotions out of my brain and onto a piece of paper. It feels good to write, because as I write I am processing and moving through grief.

Writing continually provides new insight into my pain.

Not only does writing bring release, but it does so in an organized manner. Writing allows me to take the jumbled thoughts in my mind and transfer them in an organized form onto a piece of paper.

I can’t tell you how many times writing has helped me realize things about my pain that I never would have considered if I hadn’t taken the time to think through it for the twenty minutes I was writing. Often, this new insight gives me direction for moving forward.

I actually believe that writing has been the impetus for some of the physical progress I have made. Through writing lists, goals, and expectations for myself, I am able to come up with action plans for moving through flares and making progress. When I write something down, I am more likely to follow through, which has been a huge help in getting me through some of my worst flares.

On an emotional and spiritual level, writing often brings a sense of meaning to parts of life that feel meaningless. As I draw new insight about my experience through writing, I am able to see how there is purpose in places I never would have expected. I am able to process what Scripture says about my pain, and better apply it to my life.

Writing brings me a sense of accomplishment

Writing is one of the few tasks that I can continue to do even during those weeks and months when I am mostly bound to the couch. The inability to work full-time is one of the most difficult parts of chronic pain for me, and writing during the times I am not at work helps me feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

We were created to be workers. It doesn’t feel good to not work, and the act of writing can become a form of work that we use to bless ourselves and the people around us. 

When I write for others to see, it brings a sense of community and belonging.

Not all writing occurs in the context of community, but when it does it brings a sense of comradery, belonging, and understanding.

I know for a fact that some of my writing has helped healthy individuals better understand me. This is a huge help for me on both a practical and emotional level. Practically, it keeps people updated on my life and helps them understand things such as I why I can’t go out without preparation. Emotionally, I feel uplifted and less alone when I know people have a better understanding of what I am going through.

Writing in community has also brought me friends that I never would have found any other way. I have met people going through the same experiences as me, and out of all the benefits of my writing, this has probably been the most healing. I now have people I can turn to on a daily basis who truly get what I am going through, people who serve me and who I serve in return.

You can gain these benefits, even without starting a blog. 

You don’t have to start a blog to write about your experience or to gain the benefits of creative expression. Writing can take the form of journal entries written for your eyes only or letters sent to a select few people. It can take the form of sharing on someone else’s blog or website. It can happen through sharing bits of information on social media.

Not sure how to get started? Try writing through some of these prompts.

Writing/Journaling Prompts

  1. Describe what it is like to live in your shoes for a day. What is your day like from beginning to end?
  1. If there was one thing you could help people understand about your illness or pain, what would it be? How would you describe it to people?
  1. What is the most frustrating part of your illness or pain? What do you do with that frustration and how could you move through it?
  1. Write the story of how your chronic pain or illness began and progressed to where it is today.
  1. Write a letter to your healthy family members and friends about your chronic pain. What do you want them to know? (Write it knowing you don’t actually have to send it.)
  1. What part of your illness or pain is most difficult for people to understand?
  1. What truth from Scripture has most helped you move forward on difficult days?
  1. What is your perspective regarding what Scripture says about physical healing? How can you relate this to you and your daily life?
  1. What words do you most need to remember on your bad days? Write them out so you can come back to them when needed.

This post was originally published on Esther Smith’s blog, Life in Slow Motion.