I began writing when I was around the age of 13. The words seemed to pull at me in a way the world did not. I found myself escaping into them, withdrawing from my life. And, unlike the lines that criss-crossed my wrists, the words did not hold any physical trauma.
At first, I wrote about myself. I wrote about who I was, what I looked like, what I saw when I looked in the mirror. An ugly grotesque monster that I did not recognise. I wrote what it felt like when I walked outside, when I was with my friends who all looked better than me, how it felt when everyone was watching me. Pages filled with my words, the letters looping off. I hid them from people, worried that they might read them, worried that they might explore what they meant. Worried that they might mock me for them.
Slowly, I began to write about more things. I began to explore myself in different characters. One day, I was an old man who was revisiting his youth on his deathbed. Another, I was a girl who was looking to the future whilst she stared into the reflection of the river that would become her watery grave. I switched from one to the next, jumping into their skin, feeling the way it slipped over mine, the way it became more comfortable. I was no longer simply myself. I was a multitude of people, a horde of them, an entire world of them.
And, without realising, my world became better.
There is a catharsis to writing that I feel most people feel. To put pen to paper, to carve out an entire world for yourself, to be the one making the rules, to be the one breaking them. The power to do so can be therapeutic.
After a long day, where perhaps things haven’t gone my way, where a reflection in a mirror I did not see coming has made me see myself from an angle yet to be explored, where a co-worker has made me feel as though I have done something wrong, when everything seems set against me, to dive deep into my own world is exactly what I need. To just forget for a moment. To just be someone else.
I write every single day now. It has become as easy to me as eating and breathing, as sleeping. I carry a notebook everywhere I go so that I can note things down. My phone has endless notes of little sentences, of paragraphs, of thoughts and ideas that occur to me spontaneously throughout the day. I write, and I write, and I write. Because to not write would be as alien to me as not existing. It is not an option for me, not a choice I can take.
I remember when a close friend asked me if I was simply hiding away from my problems through writing. I didn’t know how to answer that, because it had never occurred to me that what I was doing was hiding. It had always seemed to me as though I was simply changing. Becoming someone else. Becoming someone better. Someone who could deal with the things I have to deal with.
The same friend asked me if I would ever write about myself.
I told them no.
Because writing is only cathartic for me as long as I never write about myself.