Does writing very personal, deep things make you sad?
I went away for a while.
If you never speak, people think there’s nothing there.
It’s like I disappeared.
I was here, but my life and all those experiences I’d picked up were shut inside.
I lived by skimming along the surface.
No one knew me.
The people who came closest to knowing me, knew versions that were outdated and highly edited.
It took me decades to mention being raped.
I didn’t talk about sexuality, drugs, loss…I didn’t mention what made me happy or the price I was willing to pay for what passes for happiness to me.
I kept my head down and stayed silent.
I’d occasionally forget and blurt something out; people would react badly.
A few years ago, I relaxed enough to let out some of me out to the people I worked with.
It was a good day…up until I realized I’d hit an uncomfortable spot.
I looked at the people I thought were my friends…and they were hiding horrified.
Authentic me must’ve been inappropriate.
They were horrified with me.
I’m not a terrible person.
I rarely lie.
I’m not hurtful and I never have been.
I don’t steal or use people.
I have a vivid imagination.
I hold onto some pain and I can be a little cavalier…but I don’t spread it around.
I’m not sure what their problem was.
It’s hard to keep perspective and think clearly when you suppress yourself; I half-lived in a haze.
There were two standards: the one for me, and the one for everyone else.
I constantly witnessed people walking around letting venomous bile spew out of their mouths and they didn’t suffer dire repercussions.
I seemed to be punished for letting the tiniest authentic tidbit slip out.
I hit a wall and went into therapy.
I don’t like therapy or the tone I use in therapy.
It’s hard, flat, and solution oriented.
That’s as it should be, but it’s unsatisfying.
I started writing and found it cathartic.
Every sad, personal story that comes out is something I don’t have to hold down anymore.
I can control tone and examine my thoughts in detail.
I feel like a weight has lifted.
I don’t have much to lose.
Nothing I talk about is bad – it’s largely ancient history.
I don’t have anything to hide and I don’t care if I look stupid.
Looking foolish is better than being invisible.
It’s weird when people say I’m brave.
I don’t feel brave.
I’ve hit most of my worst stories and I didn’t die.
I touch on the things I think about…I have even more ideas I’m not ready to explore yet.
I started writing into the ether – I connect to real people in an unreal space for small stakes.
In real life, I’m more open because I write.
I edit my writing instead of myself…to better response.
That removes a lot of the emotional pressure I feel in my daily life.
The feelings are already there; writing about them is about expressing and articulating them, and sometimes dealing with them.
I learned this lesson on Quora.
It happened one day completely unexpectedly when I sat down to write an answer; it seemed like it would be routine and relatively short.
A couple of hours later, face covered with tears, I found that I had spontaneously written a short story.
I had begun writing it with just a touch of sarcasm—or so I believed.
I grew up in a very religious family, and I have never hated religion but have, nevertheless, had plenty of gripes with it, and with at least some of its practitioners.
As I began to write, I started with the thing that has angered me the most since I lost my faith more than thirty years ago.
As an atheist I don't believe in God, at least not the one that I was raised to believe in, so the answer was never intended to literally express my anger at God, but at the beliefs and actions—and lack of actions—of people claiming to believe what I once had believed myself.
So much for intentions.
There is a part of my mind that I actually think of as a sort of a being in it's own right.
Not in the sense of a multiple personality mental disorder, but as a part of my mind that functions at a higher level intellectually, than is the norm for me generally.
Indeed, I actually have a name for this “sub being” in my mind; I call him Steve.
I'm not sure that Steve is actually responsible for what happened when I started writing that answer.
I generally think of Steve as being intellectually superior to my average self, and I don't think of him as being very tuned in emotionally; so I suppose maybe there's another part of my mind that I could name; a sort of Steve who deals primarily in emotions.
In any case the extraordinary thing that happened shortly after I began writing my epic answer, was that some submerged part of my mind came roaring out of the depths, pushed “me” aside and took over the typing, while I cowered, shocked and awed, and listened to the story as it emerged.
I honestly had no idea what was happening with this story.
I didn't know what I would write in the next paragraph, much less how the story would end.
Nevertheless paragraph after paragraph after paragraph followed as quickly as my hands could type the words, and the tears began coursing down my cheeks and blinding me; at times I was wracked with sobbing so intense that I had to stop and just cry for a while.
I did not know where the story was going or how it would end, but the power in it was an enormous thing that brutally grabbed my heart and ravished it mercilessly.
By the time I reached the end, I had made my peace with religion and, more importantly, with myself, because I had learned that it was neither God nor religion that were the real source of my anger.
I had peered deep inside of my own heart and had found anger, yes, and more importantly had found deep horrific guilt that I had only been vaguely aware of before that day.
It seems that I myself was the source of both the anger and the guilt, and on that day, I finally understood that and also made a very good start toward forgiving myself.
As for the ending? Honestly, even after a couple of years I'm still stunned by the way that the ending not only tied up all of the threads contained in the story, but also provided the symmetry with the beginning of it, that I could not have ever sat down and designed consciously.
Did the story make me sad? Of course it did! bitterly so in fact! The story tore off the scab that had been growing for thirty years, and forced me to confront the ugliness that it had tried to cover, and that had been slowly, relentlessly torturing me.
It forced me to confront and own my guilt, and applied a healing balm.
Finally, it showed me a very powerful truth about religion, and people generally, that, obviously, I must have already at least sensed, but had not consciously realized.
Having seen it and had my insatiable appetite for knowledge thoroughly wetted, I diligently began to research the subject and learned that the insight I had sensed by myself, was just the tiniest part of the truth.
Writing about bad things that have happened to me, or people who’ve hurt me, rarely hurts anymore.
I’ve accepted things for what they are, and writing about them is not painful.
I have three deep regrets in my life; three times that I’ve hugely failed at my mission, and a fourth that’s more mild.
These are the only things that still cause me real pain.
The fourth is that I never finished medical school – I wanted to be Dr Sati Marie Frost, working for Médecins Sans Frontières – and probably will never go back, now that I am so ill and so tired.
But medical school is a dream that was stolen from me by my mother’s illness, my own illness, and a rapist and (attempted) murderer named Obie, and not my own failure.
My own tripartite failure consists of three people that I loved and tried to help, and failed to do so: Julian, CJ, and Jupiter.
Julian killed himself when I was 15, and that’s a wound that will always be with me, but it’s one that has healed and scarred for the most part.
CJ, as of just this week, I am getting a second chance with.
And Jupiter…Jupiter, I have to believe I’ll see again if there’s ever anything I can do for him.
It may well be that he never again needs me, but I do not feel like things are fully over.
But all I can do is listen hard enough, and hope that the universe tells me when and if I need to act.
It used to hurt to write about my eating disorder, my health, my broken family, my fucked up childhood, the hate I had for my body.
It doesn’t, not anymore.
In the last two years, I’ve healed myself, and I can thank Jupiter for starting that off for me, though I did most of the hard work myself.
My mother’s upcoming death is a source of pain, but it is a clean pain, untouched by guilt or shame.
I have done the best I possibly could for her, and she will die well – or as well as dementia allows.
Only to heal you afresh.
Writing is therapeutic.
It accesses the parts of your memory that your brain has put such signs as “stop,” “no trespassing,” “danger – keep out,” “prohibited zone,” “swamp ahead,” and “access denied” when you dig deep.
So, naturally, there’s the shock, the fear, and the grappling with the world and yourself when you access those hidden parts for writing purposes.
However, in the process of writing, your brain gets a chance to reevaluate with new knowledge, understanding, and problem-solving powers some of the most troublesome issues and conclusions that may have been stored as facts and truths.
For example, if you were deeply hurt by someone you loved when they rejected you, you may discover in the process of writing that they loved so much they wanted to protect you from them.
Writing is cathartic.
The passing of my mother had affected me badly.
Every time I wrote something that either brought her to the scene, made a light passing of her, or inspired a character I was creating, I got sad but also got to her a little more.
The writing felt to me like I was paying a tribute to her.
It did make me cry when I remembered some of the very specific moments with her, for example, when I laid my head on her lap and combed my hair with her fingers, but in the process I got to know my mother a little more and ultimately sad memories turned and continues to turn into something beautiful in my mind and on paper.
I cried crazy when I wrote
Writing sharpens writing.
When you get really deep and personal in your writing, you get to express yourself with utmost you.
This full self-expression makes your writing better because it comes straight from your heart, choosing the right words, the right combination of words, and the right tone without me really doing much thinking.
If you are writing creative stuff like novels or short stories, and you get deep and personal tapping into some of the real emotions you’ve experienced in life, you are basically using those emotions and experiences to make your fictional character a bit more multidimensional.
Good luck writing!
I wrote about AIDS twice on this site, and both times fell into a black pit.
The depth of the darkness surprised me.
It went on for days, and I felt in danger of not climbing out.
Of course, climb out I did, but my reaction was illuminating.
AIDS was the most catastrophic event of my adult life.
The effects of it are ongoing and ever-changing and writing about it helped me understand that.
It also gave me an inkling as to why some writers drink.
I faltered after tackling an answer on a website—what would a novel do to me?
I don’t feel I’ve earned this pain, I haven’t put in the sacrifice.
I lost people, but no one deeply central.
More than anything, I’m here, many men aren’t.
The simple, irrational fact is, I don’t feel I deserve to be.
It’s textbook stuff but powerful nonetheless.
I write about the ways I’m fucked up (many and varied) and this sometimes embarrasses me.
On this site I’ve abandoned my self-sufficient loner routine, and opted for a deeper truth.
Inevitably, before I post something like that, a resistance seizes me and an inner voice says ‘you can’t admit to this.
Another voice says oh yes you can—can and will.
So I do.
This, more than anything else, is the advantage of age.
Image doesn’t matter as much now, many things don’t.
My greatest counter to my impulse to put on a FACE is the knowledge I’ll be dead soon.
So what the fuck?
Quora is a valuable tool in my ongoing bid for self-acceptance.
Barfing up ugly shit about oneself on a keypad can be cathartic and humanizing.
As it turns out, I ain’t so special or unique.
How disappointing—what a relief.
I’m deep inside my well, pacing in little circles in a prison of self I’ve long accepted as my home.
It is both my greatest tragedy and my deepest strength.
The people I have met here often penetrate my isolation like notes slipped under a bolted door.
I’m grateful to be able to read about their lives and, in the partial way of the Internet, to have even met a few.
For the first and probably last time I am going to disable comments on this answer.
It’s just all too sentimental—another thing I like to pretend I’m not.
I cant be here, where this answer takes me, another damn second.
I never evolved into the arctic bastard I once tried so hard to be—I didn’t even get close.
The disappointments just keep rolling in.
It does if I’ve never written about them previously.
I’ve written about my rape at nine-years-old extensively.
One of my first writings was a poem, from the perspective as a child.
As an adult, I knew that I was raped by the medical exam at the ER, as well as the legal system, and I was ‘raped’ by my mother’s inability to help me after the rape.
I wrote about the rape in the ER recently, as an answer to a question, What is the cruelest thing that happened in an ER to you? It made me feel better to write about it.
It was almost an exorcism of the pain.
I had one commenter ask, “Why do you say that you were raped when the doctor was merely doing his job?” I deleted that comment, because it sounded incredibly insincere and troll-like.
A doctor’s ‘job’ is not to shove a speculum inside the vagina of a *restrained* child screaming HELP, NO, MOMMY, PLEASE.
That is rape, by the definition of the term.
Writing about pain makes it easier to acknowledge the pain.
Unless one is a psychopath or sociopath, there will always be residual pain from being raped, and, at times, it can catch you aware.
I was talking with a friend, and he said, “Have you ever seen one of these?” I felt like I was in a bright, bright hole, and all of the air was being sucked out of it.
That’s what the rapist said when he pulled out his penis.
The reasons why flashbacks are so hard is that they catch you unaware.
You don’t start gradually, “We’re going to talk about something difficult…”
While I have written about my rape, I’ve *never* had a flashback during the writing.
Flashbacks can send you spiraling down a deep hole.
Some people need help getting out.
I haven’t had to ask for help, yet.
I think that surviving a trauma makes us strong.
Being able to write about it, acknowledge the pain, makes us stronger.
Thanks for the A2a, Shelley.
Yes, but also very emotional in general.
I was abused as a child by a neighbor and I tend to get walked over, maybe as a result.
I try not to dwell on my own personal angst very much, except when I need the emotion.
Really, my life has been blessed with many good things and there are many people who live far more painful and tragic lives.
Attitude really makes a difference.
As a Catholic I was taught to confess sins and forgive; to me that usually means letting the pain slough off of you like an outer skin.
How this works is sort of like going to the dentist.
When I was a child I would resist any pain.
That meant every muscle in my body would be fighting to avoid hurt.
Eventually a nurse told me that if I didn't relax my arm muscle, my innoculation would hurt really bad.
Since then, when faced with pain, I enforce relaxation of my muscles.
If you relax, stay still, allow yourself to accept pain, healing comes much more quickly.
The less you dwell on pain, injury, etc, the less you cry.
I do put myself into a crying state to help release that emotion.
When I write, the pain and tears that come across are supposed to work the same way that music like Verdi or Mozart's Requiem work, they allow readers instead of music lovers to release their own pains.
People are emotional.
They feel pain, injury, grief, love, fear, joy, but if they bottle it up it explodes out of them in an uncontrolled way.
People learn empathy for others by sharing their emotions.
It can still feel like you’re opening up old dreads you don’t want to deal with, perhaps put you back in that terrible mindset again as you write it out, but it’s a lot more helpful afterwards.
It works almost like how crying does, that release of tension and emotion, the satisfaction of putting a name to your pain rather than just letting it fester.
In fact, for me personally, it often became extremely therapeutic to write.
There’s no law saying you need to write about what you’ve been through, by any means.
My own personal experiences made writing very therapeutic.
I had dealt with a very toxic ex in the past for longer than I wanted to, but I couldn’t move away just yet and I had to stay with her until she finally left that summer.
For 8 months, I had to stay with her intrusive and volatile behaviours, lack of respecting both my privacy and belongings, and often had to hide my own food stocks so I had something to myself.
I fell into a horrible depression and felt hollow inside for months, but I managed to somehow feel like writing gave me back a sense of worldliness that I needed to make it through.
I made up new stories and characters, a few I’ve stuck with for a very long time and sometimes still add material for, but it became a definite means of coping because I was able to channel all my feelings into the stories themselves, as well as find ways to solve my characters’ issues and then apply it to myself.
Strange maybe, but it certainly worked well.
If you’re thinking about giving it a shot, there’s no downside.
It may be a lot more worth your time than you realize.
Even if you have to take a lot out of your head and apply it to paper, every bit helps, and it’ll give you a release and potentially could help map out solutions that you can take to help.
Good luck! Hopefully it gives you some peace.
Thanks for the A2A.
Authors do live in their characters heads just as characters live in the authors head.
Lucky for me I didn't delve too deep into the murky world of emotional imbalance.
y work went only this far.
The writer invests a large portion of himself/herself into any writing.
At the same time the armourguard of common sense comes up.
Although writers do ‘feel’ for their characters, especially if they are lifelike, they often stay aloof of the action.
In that sense good writing comes from emotional content delivered as close as possible to the truth.
Romance novels needs such input more than fast paced writing.
Sadness is an ephemeral thing.
I find it more of a release, especially if it’s something that impacted my life.
In my Memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On, I talked about a diagnosis of 6 months to live in 2008.
It was somewhat painful to go back in my life and expose things that I believe ‘broke’ my heart.
But it was also cathartic.
When I wrote my first memoir, I had to be prepared to expose myself: When you write a memoir, there is no where to hide.
So it’s no longer about the writing or the story, I opened myself to criticism for my lifestyle choices, bad marriages, and more.
Painful and sad—however, the reward came with the reviews, the honesty that came back at me, the way I helped people deal with sadness and health issues in their lives.
I actually like to reveal deep and personal things about myself.
In my personal relationships, if I can’t go deep, there is no possibility of me having a relationship.
I’d rather pass than be shallow.
The sadness is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of helping people live better lives.
But not every deep personal I write about is about pain & struggle.
I think these are common themes because writing & narrative can be cathartic & therapeutic.
On Quora, my most viewed, upvoted & republished answer:
I wrote that almost 5 years ago.
The condensed version: this is about the pain & confusion of infertility but also about adoption.
Both issues can trigger sad feelings, so if I am not in a good place, I don’t answer A2As on those topics.
Adoption is a reflection of an imperfect world.
In a perfect world, everyone would be in complete control of when & if they had a child.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for a foster care system.
In a perfect world, all biological parents would be prepared to & want to parent.
There would be no wars, no mental illness.
But it isn’t a perfect world.
Adoption is not defined by loss, but it is rooted in it.
Each individual who is part of the the adoption triad responds & feels differently about that truth.
Even if the birthparents expressed certainty that adoption is for the best, there is loss & grief.
Adoptees lose the experience of having their biological parents and the parents who raise them to be one and the same.
Adopting a child in an open adoption has changed me in the most profound way.
Like many others have stated to you, the experience can be freeing and cathartic.
They also shared their experiences, which makes them very brave, even when they don’t think they are.
I appreciate everyone who has shared in this response.
For deeply personal things, I write and get it out, and I put it under “fiction.
” Then people can believe what they want.
Not all of my fiction is like this.
Some of it might seem realistic or like it happened to me, but instead, it’s really the many voices of the people who I have known.
So, my little jewels of personal knowledge is hidden among my works.
Also, I write it because I believe for everything I write, someone else has been through it.
Maybe I can offer them something.
Just the knowledge that someone else has been through it can be enough to provide someone else in the world some comfort.
I am at the point where I cannot disclose what happened to me in my personal life, because those people are a bunch of losers and would try and sue me.
I have to wait until I’m old and everyone one has died off.
In the meantime, my readers can play the guessing game, but if there is anyone who has experienced what my characters have, whether it’s my experience or someone else’s, I hope there is some comfort for them that you are not alone.
Other people have been through what you have been through.
Writing provides a wonderful vehicle in the world to allow people to come together and provide comfort to each other.
How can I be sad about that?
This is an interesting and timely request…
I just completed the latest draft of my memoir, “5150 A Manic Depressive Adventure.
” In the climx, I have a gun pressed against my head as I ponder the age old question, “to be or not to be…”
I’ve told the story dozens of times.
I’ve even joked about it.
But taking the most horrific moment of my life and doing my best to convey it in such a way as to compel the reader to sit next to me in the front seat as I wonder whether or not I’m going to empty the contents of my head all over the interior of my car is another matter.
Even now, you can tell my tone is a tad sarcastic.
But not so in my memoir.
I’ve told my friends that writing memoir is a lot like taking the worst moments of your life and attempting to transform them into literary art, word alchemy at its finest.
When I wrote the final pages, I fell to the floor, curled up in a fetal position and sobbed with an anguish that I carried for far too long.
I don’t believe that the writing caused the sadness, rather; the writing allowed access to a profound sadness that already existed within me.
And the tears and the sobbing allowed me to purge myself of the stagnant energy.
I once believed that if I cried enough, if I grieved enough, I’d be done, and life would be good again.
It doesn’t work that way.
There will always be sadness and despair in this world.
What I’ve learned is that it’s better to feel in real time rather than repress an emotion with a joint, a six pack, a shopping spree, random sex with a stranger or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
The feelings already exist, our bodies keep the score.
Writing is a tool to release the bound up energy that keeps us stuck wallowing in our shit, unable to move forward in any type of productive way…
(I assume the question is asking for writing on Quora.
On the contrary, it makes you happier.
Your thoughts, the greater the intensity better they play it, play tit for tat game with you.
If you keep them caged, which is very tempting and likely, they cage you back four times more.
Write them down and hit the submit button (read it ‘Set them free’), which sounds like a horrible idea, like a really horrible idea.
Do it for not to ask bandages from random people but to give bandages to those who might be suffering the same.
Do it to break stereotypes, to rebel the injustice, to be the change you want to bring, and to make the art proud of you.
Eventually, you’ll end up healing yourself.
You’ll feel freedom from yourself and not pleasure but happiness.
You’ll feel more alive.
I recommend it to everyone, to you.
Edit: This answer is selected for Quora Digest.
Thanks for asking, Shelley.
Thanks, I think.
Personal writings…deeply personal writings, that is, end up in journals, hopefully never to see the light of day.
But they do act as a release, and for that I’m thankful.
Those are my “true self” entries.
I’m not good at writing about sadness.
In the journal I may write something that on rereading (emotions recollected in tranquility, a la Wordsworth), may READ as sad but I do not enjoy the feeling.
I’ve observed those who appear to revel in the drama—maybe it’s their personal catharsis trigger— and I’ve seen people at the mercy of overwhelming sadness.
Neither is pretty.
Sometimes being human is a handful.
In writing fiction, I admit to working aspects of a “true self” moment into characters.
When I do, I go numb: not sad, not happy, not anything save an almost flat affect.
Perhaps the unhappy moments, once written into the journal, are a done deal for me.
I’m not much of a support group type either.
I don’t like verbalizing my sadness, tough days, or the deaths in my life.
I have writing instead.
Writing exorcizes my demons.
Don’t worry, I have a therapist.
I’m considering firing him in favor of the Quora community to whom it’s apparently so very, so dangerously easy to spill my guts.