Five years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Within a year, I had undergone three surgeries, two months without eating, eight months of ileostomy, and five hospital stays.
It was devastating, physically and emotionally.
It took me a good three years to get my full strength back. But I found that as hard as the physical healing was, it was actually easier than the mental recovery. Even after getting better, I kept getting highjacked by flashbacks. Something as innocent as a fan turned on high or a jar of pasta sauce or a Sandra Bullock movie would trigger memories of the worst moments of my life.
So I started writing as a way to get the memories out of my head and on to paper. I found that by writing them down, I could distance myself from the trauma and start to make sense of it, and as a result, I had these "memory seizures" less and less often.
I also found that writing allowed me to create something beautiful and compelling out of terrible experiences, which made me feel like a creator instead of a victim.
I learned the technique of writing as healing from Dr. Roy Fox when I was in grad school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has agreed to write a chapter for Guts on the research behind writing as healing along with simple instructions on how to write to heal.
I included several excerpts from Guts below. I am currently seeking an agent and publisher for the book. Sign up at the bottom of the page if you want to be notified when the book is available for purchase.
I encourage you to read about writing as healing and try it yourself. This powerful technique works for any kind of trauma, whether physical or emotional, recent or long ago. Even one session of twenty minutes of writing can lead to lasting, measurable change.