When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was truly terrified. I’ve always been anxious anyway but when everything closed down (including my business), I was scared that I was going to lose cherished people in my life, and even my own. I couldn’t see how I could NOT lose them.
During that first wave a beautiful, creative and talented cousin of mine died of COVID in London, leaving his loved ones devastated. Another cousin died of COVID this summer. My father was in hospital for many, many months during the pandemic. My highlight was if I could wave at him through a window from the hospital car park. It was so, so painful. We’ve all been through such difficult times. Each of us in different ways. The loneliness of it bit into me, the disruption to my business and not being able to see my father when he was so unwell. I tried to write my way through it, but my publisher rejected my second children’s book. I felt like nothing was ever going to go well again. I can be like that. My mind catastrophises.
The reason I’m writing about this now is because I want the experience of the pandemic to mean something. I don’t want to carry on as I was before. I want the experience to have changed me, and it has. As there was absolutely nowhere else to go during the pandemic, eventually I went inside. And it turns out there’s a whole world inside of me that I didn’t know existed. It is inside all of us. I’m a different person because of the pandemic and I want to do different things. Therefore, as well as my usual creative writing classes, I’m offering courses on journaling to help with mental health. I’m doing this because I hope it will help some others who were terrified and traumatised by the pandemic. I want to help people recover.
One of the ways I recover is to journal everyday. I often do it in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. The phone lines to the Samaritans were jammed during the pandemic. (I know because I tried to get through many times.) So, with no one else to talk to, I turned to my journal to get me through the early hours. Journaling helps me figure out what I am feeling. When I’m not concerned about punctuation and sentence structure, I can let my feelings pour onto the page. It’s also a wonderful place to envision things I want for myself: relationships, outcomes to problems, work/life balance.
I journal about my dreams and goals. I ‘feel’ into them. I even write stories about them, so I can ‘live’ the dream through the experience of the character. I want to share these journaling tools with children, teenagers and adults who feel they might help them. I have exercises that ease my mind of whirring nagging thoughts, help me discover how I truly feel, and envision how I’d like to live. I’m really excited about this workshop.
In the words of the Rock Star genius Prince: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life.” I want to share the journaling tools I use to help us “get through this thing called life.” I offer online interactive workshops (for children/ teens or adults)and I’m also offering this workshop in schools.