It wasn’t too long ago that societal stresses got to me. A couple of years back, what started as little, suspicious thoughts about people’s motives, snowballed into a grand paranoia with a bleak narrative – somehow, someway, the whole world had turned against me.
I spent days then months gripped with paranoia and fear. Fear that the people were conspiring against me, that I had somehow managed to annoy everyone I knew. Then I started to worry my phone was being hacked and I was being watched. I felt like I was in a movie.
Was there any credible evidence? No. I’d lost the capacity to think clearly.
I was experiencing psychosis. The unreal had become real.
Eventually, though, with medicine, combined with support from healthcare professionals and my parents, I got better. When the negative thoughts subsided and the paranoia dissolved, I wanted to write like I used to but it wasn’t easy. I struggled with doubt and managed to convince myself that everything I produced was worthless.
I felt low, like I’d lost my writing spark.
It took months to get the spark back. It didn’t help that my psychosis relapsed twice. I tried to cover up how I was feeling but the people around me knew. Each time, though, with support, I recovered. The problem was, every time I sat back down in front of my computer, hoping to write, my thoughts wouldn’t flow. I felt my words were rubbish, drivel.
Nevertheless, I promised myself that I would write a few hundred words every day.
I would review what I’d written the next day and somehow, in the long months between episodes, I managed to write a novella. I continued to work at it, editing every day.
Eventually, despite my nerves, I shared what I had written with friends, with family. I listened to the feedback of those who cared and stopped worrying about the ones who didn’t.
I have learned to reflect on my experiences and draw whatever I can from them. Those dark times, when I felt helpless and lost, now fire up my imagination. I create characters whose states of mind are altered by their experiences, who lose sight of what is real. I create scenes and situations as surreal as what I went through.
Hindsight enables me to see life’s experiences for what they now are – inspiration. The greatest power, to me, is to be able to look back and find light in my darkest moments, to be able to draw positivity out of all the negatives, to create something meaningful out of the bad.
No matter what life throws at you, no matter how hard it is, try turning it into a story, an article or an essay. If you can’t do it at the time, keep notes or journal your experiences so you can come back to them later for inspiration. Our experiences fuel our creativity.