Writers With Mental Illness

Writing To Cope As A Highly Sensitive Person

As a highly sensitive person, I’ve been told since I was a child that I think too much and I’m too sensitive. If I wasn’t playing outside or watching Olsen twins movies with my sister, I was reading. As I got older, I learned that I was not only a highly-sensitive person, but I was also an introverted empath. My high school had almost 4,000 students roaming its halls. I picked up on the emotions of my peers, unaware that the overwhelming emotions I felt weren’t entirely mine.

As Doctor Elaine N. Aron puts it,

“The highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”

Without Self-Care, Our Highly-Sensitive Traits Can Negatively Affect Us

When I developed a mood disorder in high school, I thought I had done something wrong. I felt ashamed and broken. I used writing to cope with those feelings, but no one seemed to understand my writing or my mental illness. They thought I was strange and maybe even a little screwed up for writing about my life. It wasn’t until I found like-minded writers that I finally understood my weaknesses are also my biggest strengths. 

After years of trying to dull my intensity, I found a community of people who liked me just the way I am. These people identified as a highly-sensitive person (HSP) and/or empaths… Some of it sounded hippy-dippy and bizarre at times, but it described me perfectly. And here’s the kicker: every single highly-sensitive person I met was creative in some way. I began to realize that creativity and health go hand in hand. If I’m in creative drought, you can bet I’m not doing well emotionally. Writing helps us cope with the overload of sensory input we receive. It helps us cope with our intense feelings and express them in a healthy way.

Using Writing To Cope As A Highly Sensitive Person

Increased Creativity As A Highly Sensitive Person

Because the highly-sensitive person has increased sensitivity and higher intuition, we can become overwhelmed. At times, we may even feel unable to cope with all the signs and emotions we pick up on. To put it simply, our minds do not filter out as many signals as the average person. We notice things even if we don’t want to. While this trait can cause problems, it also can lead to increased creativity. We have powerful minds that we may need to grow into. Expressing ourselves by writing out our feelings helps us use our highly sensitive traits to our advantage. We notice more often the infuriating scratch of that sweater against our skin or the warm breeze that caresses our cheeks on a Spring day. The process of putting those intense feelings into words can help us cope and create a work of art.

It can be hard to share our writing, especially in a culture that encourages us to hide our feelings, but there’s nothing wrong with us. Writing helps us understand ourselves and vent frustrating emotions. As a highly sensitive person with mental illness, I began writing to cope with my feelings. Over the years, it grew into so much more than that. Now, writing is my passion and my job. It’s become a way of life.

How Do You Know If You’re A Highly Sensitive Person?

  • Sounds may be louder, lights may be brighter, and smells may be unusually strong.
  • Even the texture of certain fabrics can infuriate us. Too soft or too rough can be both be terrible.
  • We can quickly tell how a person is feeling and may even take on the emotions of others without meaning to.
  • We need time to recharge after socializing and may prefer to hang out in smaller groups.
  • Violent mass media can negatively affect us, so we tend to avoid it.
  • We pick up on tiny details and subtle changes in our environment.

About The Author:

August Blair is the blogger behind Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer and student who is passionate about writing and psychology. She studies at The University of North Georgia. You can find her writing online and in print. Connect with her on Instagram and Goodreads.

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