Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

At the end of your rope? Write about it

(Courtesy of Jeffrey James/Flickr)
(Jeffrey James/Flickr)

When you’re feeling upset about something, it’s easy to become trapped by your own thoughts. Maybe there was something you could have done better, something that you shouldn’t have said or some choice that you regret. The infinite possibilities of what could have or should have been can overwhelm you. You can box yourself in with your own worries.

Everyone fights their own inner battles, but we’re not always willing to share our troubles. Close friends, family or community members may reach out to you and tell you, “I’m always here.” But it’s hard to believe that. You might worry that you’d be burdening them with your problems when they already have their own things to deal with. And then you’re stuck, left again to your own demons. So what do you do?


When you feel like you have nowhere else to turn, turn to a blank page. Whether your notebook has a spiral binding or an aluminum unibody, it’s the freest space for expressing your uncensored thoughts. Within the space of a journal, you can say anything. You can release all anguish. Just let the sentences flow. Your worries may be shackles, but your words are the key. Let them lift you up from your despair.

Writing is a cathartic act. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart, your head and your soul into what you write. Be brutally honest with yourself. Concentrating everything that torments your headspace into a single medium results in an incomparable feeling of relief. Music and visual art offer an abstract means of depicting the massive emotional and psychological spectrum, but writing is a direct, focused method of introspection. You can understand your state more when you’ve anchored it in words.

And those words can be as private or public as you need them to be. The intimacy of a physical journal shelters the writer from all outside judgment. Blogging will ostensibly attract more attention than journaling, but the extra exposure can be helpful. Depending on what you write about, the readily accessible format of a blog can benefit readers who might be enduring similar circumstances. An altruistic path to self-help is mutually beneficial.

Writing allows total freedom, and prose is unlimited in form. I have found that the particular subject matter informs how I record it. Certain conflicts need to be dealt with immediately, and I believe a common journal entry to be most helpful in those cases. Anyone can keep a journal, and I suggest everyone should.

Writing a personal testimony does not carry the pressure of actively trying to produce art. That said, such a well of emotional tension could provide ample inspiration for creative writing. Fiction and poetry are tremendously flexible modes. Life’s hard truths can be bent to fit a plot, and can inspire one as well. Stories meditate within specific issues. If you write, you can address anything that hurts you. You can inhabit your characters and confront your problems through them. Narrative, fictional or not, is an open space to explore loneliness, depression or the damages caused by abuse. Vicariously dealing with personal challenges is not a true substitute for directly facing them, but finding any outlet is better than keeping everything bottled up.

Darkness should be faced. A tortured soul should be healed. Write to liberate yourself from what plagues you. Write for your own good. Write for the good of others. Write because you hold the power to better yourself. We are more than our pain, but we need to acknowledge pain and channel it into something productive. Language is a beautiful, powerful tool. Embrace it. The pen is mighty, and its ink can mend the broken heart.

Nathan Frontiero is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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