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Writing with Anxiety

Updated on October 2, 2013

Anterograde amnesia and how it affects my writing

If you're wondering what anterograde amnesia is, it's the inability to form new memories. Perhaps you've seen the movie "Memento". That movie deal exactly with this problem. I'm not nearly as far gone as he is, however it definitely affects the way that I write. Mine mainly affects me at night, and I have medication to thank for that. However, my day isn't that much easier. At least during the day I can kind of 'train' myself to know what I need to do and all that. I might not remember your name or your face for a week or so, but I'll get it eventually. I would say that mine is more of a delay in creating memories during the day, but at night I can just forget about it. It doesn't happen. I've tried, and I've tested myself on numerous occasions. It's rough.

I can write multiple things at night, read them over and over again until I'm blue in the face, and wake up and have no recollection of what I've written. I can remember bits and pieces (usually titles), but that's it. As far as subject matter goes, I couldn't even begin to tell you what was written the night before. This is one of the main reasons why I stick to poetry and short prose. I am in the process of writing my second novelette/novella, but it is very very hard for me to do because I have to continually re-read everything to make sure that I am not repeating myself over and over again.

This might not seem like a big deal, but when I write it is mostly at night. That's when I have down time from my life. I've been diagnosed with everything from generalized anxiety disorder to PTSD, and I have terrible, terrible insomnia. So I understand that the medications I take play a huge role in my amnesia. However, without them I would get even less sleep than I do and I simply cannot afford that. This affects my writing because I need to get everything out, and quickly. That is one of the biggest reasons why a lot of my writing is raw, and almost unrefined. Don't get me wrong, I'm not drugged out of my mind or anything, and I do a great job organizing everything into folders and such while I'm writing it - I just don't know what it's about the next day. And I hardly ever go back and read it, for a couple of reasons. One is that I trust myself enough as a writer and I know that I'm coherent enough not to make spelling/grammatical errors. Another reason is that it's never the same. You can't manufacture the same emotions as when you first write something down. To me, that is very important. I want my writings to be truthful and honest representations of who I am.

Below, you'll see a picture of some titles of some stuff I've been writing lately. They don't make any sense, I will tell you that much. Why have I named them that? Your guess is as good as mine. I haven't gone back and read any of them. The modified date you see is when they were written. Again, this is just a small sampling but it's just to give you an idea of where my head is when I'm writing versus where I would be the next day - obviously two different places. For all I know, I very well may have written the same exact poem two days in a row. I wouldn't know. When I'm ready to self-publish them, I simply copy and paste everything into a document and that's it. No reading, no editing, nothing. Luckily, as I said, I am coherent enough while writing that I format everything correctly, save it correctly and put it into the correct folders. It sort of amazes me how organized and chaotic my mind can be at the same time.

Example of Titles

These are a few of the titles that I give my writings. The title may or may not have anything to do with the story. I haven't the slightest clue.
These are a few of the titles that I give my writings. The title may or may not have anything to do with the story. I haven't the slightest clue. | Source

How Anxiety Affects My Writing

Anxiety fuels my writing. I know this. Without it, i think I would be a boring run of the mill writer who writes about flowers and trees and things of that nature. (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I am much more into abstract writing). When I write, it's almost as if I'm scared of what I'm writing. I get a sense of dread normally, and so it leads to my writings being a little darker than normal. I've tried to write happy little poems, but it just isn't me. It's not what gets my creative juices flowing if you will. When I try and do that, in the words of Bubbles - something's a little fucky.

My anxiety couple with my medication have almost opened me up to a side of myself that I didn't know existed. I'm not necessarily proud of it or bragging about it, but it allows me to write. That's what is the most important thing to me. Without either of those, and without the balance they somewhat give me, I probably would write about how beautiful a flower is and it would be boring and vanilla. For example, the newest novelette I'm working on is about murder. That's all I can say without giving anyway any details, but it involves a lot of murder. And not in just a let's get gory and nonsensical way. But it serves a purpose, and is a central theme of the book. It's not a whodunnit type book either. Hopefully it is something that is original and someone can relate to.

Sometimes I feel as though my writings help me get out my inner crazy, if you will. I'm able to write things down without being judged (immediately anyway), and I can distribute it to people outside of my inner circle which helps relieve my anxiety about writing and what people will think of it. I understand that you should ask your peers and close friends to review your writing, but for someone who has anxiety that's like asking someone who is afraid of heights to go mountain climbing - it's just not a good idea. I like the way I write and the process I use, and that's mostly because it's how I've come to accept what I do. I'm okay with it. Is it weird and does it drain me sometimes? Absolutely. Does it make me feel crazy? Yes. But then again, what exactly is normal nowadays anyway?


Writing with anxiety disorders and insomnia and everything else I have going on, can definitely lend a different perspective to most things. Take a look at the image below. What do you see? The moon and a star? Jupiter and a star? Or do you see what it actually is, and my insomnia dazed attempt to take a picture of something through glass in the dark with a flash? It's hard to tell sometimes, but it's all about perception and how we perceive things. This picture can be anything you want it to be. Hell, some people may think it's a UFO! But I know the truth about it, and you do now too. Again, when we are in different states of mind, we perceive things differently. As I said earlier, this is why I prefer my writings to be extremely raw and unedited. Otherwise, everything would have a very simple and boring explanation!

What do you see here?
What do you see here?

Anxiety and other mental health issues

Does anxiety or any other mental health issue drive your writing?

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