Being lost in the woods is a good metaphor for where my mind has been for a little while. When I’m out and about, I feel like I’m lost in a sea of people, and I feel open and exposed. Maybe this is a result of my own emotional and mental state at the moment – whilst I’ve always been someone who knows how to keep going and draws upon my own strength, in the past two years I’ve felt something shift within me.
Having been through a dark bout of depression two years ago, I feel as if I’m still getting my bearings and recovering my confidence and self belief. For example, although I know I’m capable of writing longer and more sustained pieces of fiction and non-fiction, I’m still gathering my courage.
‘Come down from the trees – you’ve been gone too long.
Return to the house that you came from.
Turn back on the road you traveled upon.
I stand where you stood.
Come out of the woods.’ – Matthew and the Atlas.
I set out this month to regain my writing mojo, and it has been recovered to an extent. I’ve been writing most days in my writer’s notebook – mostly journalling – and I feel the old well of inspiration and thought bubbling up again. Still, I’m wondering if I’m going through a prolonged healing process and it is taking longer than I thought to write it all out and find my way back through the forest.
It is a tangled forest, with dark emotions and patches of sunlight. Sometimes I can see the way through, other moments the way doesn’t feel as clear. A lot of the time I confuse myself and have to untangle my thoughts and feelings. The good news is that I can feel the journalling working and that even though I feel exposed, I also feel more unburdened. The trick now is to keep the momentum going through the month, into December and beyond.
In some ways, journalling is also like opening Pandora’s Box. You’re never sure what will bubble to the surface, and sometimes it’s magic – yet other times you end up trapped in a cycle of negative thought. It takes some effort on my part to break out of those cycles and go in a positive direction.
At the same time, being honest with myself about what I’m feeling and thinking means I’m becoming more resilient and admitting that I’ve made mistakes and can move on from them. I’ve always preferred to write out all my thinking in this way, it calms the storm and leads to a state of meditation. It counteracts the way I’m so easily distracted nowadays by social media – by forcing me to focus on one task at a time, by building up the amount of time I can focus on one thing.
I’m going with the flow this month – less a competition of the number of words I write and more a challenge of keeping up new habits. It’s hard to break old habits but making new, constructive ones goes some way towards counteracting the old ones.
‘Hey! Winter has gone – and the leaves weave through the forest.
I know that you believe –
and through these hands I will receive – a gift all golden and bright.
And it returned to me through the morning light.’ – Matthew and the Atlas.
Images © Liz Ward.