How does writing affect mental health? MYKEIRA Williams

Many find inspiration in music and poetry, while other choose to create poetry and write songs of their own. Throughout adolescence, I've struggled with mental illness. Through song writing and poetry, I found solace in my battle with depression. Poets like Sylvia Plath related to the problems that I dealt with. Music Acts such as Halsey and Twenty One Pilots pen lyrics about mental instability that resonate with me. Being exposed to lyrics that spoke to me on an emotional level and inspired me to write, caused me to wonder if others feel the same impact that songwriting had on me.

(Top) Halsey, The Bell Jar(Left), Twenty One Pilots(Right)

Being the psychology enthusiast that I am, I thought that I could find the reason why myself and others find comfort in writing. Apparently, the act of writing creatively activates certain regions in the brain. If it weren't for my class on neuroscience, then this information would puzzling to me, but a study with recently unemployed engineers show that consistently writing thoughts regarding their recent job loss, resulted in the engineers feeling less negative emotions towards their employer.

"I sat alone, in bed till the morning I'm crying, "They're coming for me" /And I tried to hold these secrets inside me/My mind's like a deadly disease /I'm bigger than my body, I'm colder than this home/ I'm meaner than my demons, I'm bigger than these bones" - Halsey

While adults are positively affected by writing, adolescents, particularly those who are victims of abuse show signs of an improved mental state after writing song lyrics of their own. Adolescents suffering from mental illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, show signs of improvement after writing daily for a couple of weeks.

"Am I the only one I know? Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat, Shadows will scream that I'm alone" -Twenty One Pilots

Adolescents are a demographic that is largely affected by music lyrics, because of this, numerous bands and musicians write lyrics geared towards young adults. There are entire music genres that have been a staple of teenage angst, most notably "emo" music, which has garnered a massive following from its conception in the early 2000s to now.

"Emo" musicians tend to write lyrics with teenagers in mind.

I've interviewed others who benefit from the effects of expressing themselves through writing. The interviewees agreed that writing has a positive impact of their mental state. Writing for them is a way to clear their mind and alleviate stress.

Studies have shown that the act of writing affects the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that is responsible for motor skills, thinking, decision making and social Interaction. The parietal lobe's main function is to process sensory information regarding the five senses. The parietal lobe also interprets words and language.

Writing has been proven to have many positive effects on the brain:

  • Improved mood/affect
  • Greater psychological well-being
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms
  • Improved Memory

Although I mainly write song lyrics and poetry, writing stories has been a hobby of mine since middle school. I've found that my song lyrics tend to reflect the mood that I'm feeling at the moment.

Can I go back to sleep?/ Can I go back to sleep? I'm tired of you interrupting me/Can I breathe? Can I breathe? You're suffocating/ You're suffocating me
Moving through my mind Clocks don't just tell time/TV screens will tell you how to see/The sky distracts me from the terrors at sea/ Nothing left to give, nothing left to gain Silent Rain
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Keira W.
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