Emma (18): it’s amazing what words can do, they are the things we use to communicate every day but their power goes so much deeper than that. Have you ever listened to a song that had a lyric speak to you? Have you ever read a book and found a character that knew you better than you knew yourself? Have you ever found a poem that said everything you couldn’t?
This is the power of words.
When things get bad and the walls are closing in, sometimes they are the only things keeping us going. Throughout history people have used literature to help them through bad times, there are countless books, songs and poems that address every problem in the world.
Whether you’ve had your heartbroken and find comfort in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, grieving with Hamlet or just trying to stay afloat like Eleanor in All The Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin. There’s a great comfort in knowing that others have been through it before you and here is the literary evidence that if they can make it why can’t you?
I know that whenever I need that safety, I always go back to a favourite of mine - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. To me that book is like coming home after a long day, I can read and fall right back into a world of magic, with characters I’ve grown up with in a place that feels like home. It’s all about what you love, it doesn’t have to be some old classic, it can anything from a story you loved as a child to fanfiction. If you ask me, you can’t beat reading your favourite characters/people getting into new adventures, you can be lost back in their word or bring them into yours. There’s something about reading characters you see yourself in and with fanfiction you have the ability to literally be there with them or you can finally see your OTP together and you can’t beat that.
Personally I know what a help fanfiction can be, not only because people write with very much their own experiences there’s no shortage of stories discussing all variety of mental illness but it’s also a great outlet. My best friend who suffered very badly with depression a few years ago found writing a huge help, she was able to pour all her emotions and feelings into it and it’s one of the things that truly helped her.
Others prefer poetry they find a wonderful sense of belonging in the rhyming words of Emily Dickinson to William Wordsworth. They’re saying you’re not alone and that it can be okay, that no matter the 100 years between the words being written and your reading of them, the connection is still there. A poem that comes to mind is I Am! by John Clare
“I am the self-consumer of my woes.
They rise and vanish in oblivious host.”
When I showed this to my best friend she said it felt like someone had taken every feeling she’d ever had with depression and written it out. It’s the work of pain and joy and love and heartbreak. They say there is a poem for every mood and I agree, no matter what you’re feeling someone has been there before. Again it’s a great thing to try and write, to let everything out. I’ve tried and though my poems are nothing worth repeating it was a great way to play with words and feelings, to try and get everything out but to try and keep a rhythm going at the same time. I know it can be hard to find the words, sometimes it’s near impossible to say what’s going on in your head but someone, somewhere has. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” - John Keating - Dead Poets Society.
For Ema's list of great, inspirational books, please see recent article here