There is scientific evidence to support that a particular intervention benefits the following conditions:
- Lung function in asthma
- Disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis
- Pain and physical health in cancer
- Immune response in HIV infection
- Hospitalisations for cystic fibrosis
- Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain
- Sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers
- Post-operative course
That particular intervention is – Expressive writing.
The body of literature that demonstrates beneficial effects of expressive writing has been growing over the past 30 years. One of the earliest studies conducted by Pennebaker and Beall in 1986 compared 2 groups of students. Both groups were asked to write for 15 minutes on 4 consecutive days. One group put down their thoughts and feelings about the most traumatic or upsetting event of their life while the other wrote about something trivial, like their shoes or room. The first group self reported fewer visits to the Health Centre and fewer days off due to illness for up to 6 months after the writing exercise, as compared to the second group.
Meta-analyses show that while the improvement in physical health is clear, the results for psychological health are mixed. For a small group of trauma survivors, writing was even found to be detrimental. Although further research is required to clarify populations for whom writing is clearly effective, there is sufficient evidence for clinicians to use expressive writing in therapeutic settings with caution. Indeed, some experts noted that a drug intervention reporting medium effect sizes similar to those found for expressive writing would be regarded as a major medical advance.
For me, writing is life-saving. It gives me a reason to get through the day. It gives my days a focal point inseparable from my love for Saagar. It gives me the strength to carry on. It is the thread that connects so many of us in a beautiful mesh. It helps me discover the joy of writing and the pain of expressing true emotion. It forces me to confront reality, however horrible. It gives me a sense of control over my life, however false. It is my daily meditation, my refuge, my ritual, my learning. I write to heal. I write to write.
Thank you for entertaining the ramblings of an old woman.