Writing Heals My Brain



This post was originally published on Stigmama last week.  It was my answer to Stigmama’s founder Dr. Walker Karraa’s question, “Why do you write?”  For some silly reason I wasn’t able to reblog it, so I’m doing the old copy & paste instead! 

Each time time my writing is featured on Stigmama.com, I’m honored.  I witnessed this website’s “birth”, so to speak.  Stigmama’s thriving Facebook page now has a whopping 9000 likes, & there are many talented contributors!  

I’m including Dr. Karraa’s comment to my piece at the end because it’s an incredible, insightful comment – it really moved me.  If you’re interested in contributing to Stigmama, please visit Stigmama.com and check it out. Have a wonderful week & see you Friday!




Writing Heals My Brain

I write because I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine-years-old.

I write because my mother gave me wonderful books to read as a child, and
she always believed in my writing ability – she still does at age 80!

I write because it grounds me.

I write because the act of writing restores me to the self I was
before a mental illness almost destroyed me.

I write to prove to myself that all the soul-sucking medications I’ve
taken didn’t kill my creativity after all.

I write because writing has given me the opportunity to interview extraordinary people.  Before I was diagnosed with bipolar, I interviewed Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of “An Unquiet Mind”.  My topic was about women, depression and exercise.  Thanks to her input, I sold my first magazine article. (Little did I know I would share the same diagnosis with Dr. Jamison a few years later – at least I was in good company!)

I write because I can write, even after I had electricity pulse through my brain over fifty times during electroconvulsive treatments (ECT).  My long-term memory is still intact. I write because it stimulates some mysterious part of my brain and makes me feel better.

I write because it’s free therapy.

I write to share and connect with other people worldwide who have suffered like me.

I write to help other moms know they aren’t alone with their postpartum mood disorders.

I write because no one, not even bipolar disorder, can take away the fact that I’m a Writer.


*Photo: Dyane with the Newbery Award-winning author Madeleine L’Engle at her writing workshop in 1997.  L’Engle wrote “A Wrinkle In Time” and over sixty other books.  Madeleine L’Engle is one of Dyane’s all-time favorite
authors, and Dyane counts spending time with this amazing writer as one of the most meaningful highlights of her life.


Dear Dyane

Your piece here speaks to I write something so hard to get at.  But you get there…the mystery of writing.  You write, “because it stimulates some mysterious part of my brain and makes me feel better.”  This is so true. Writing does activate a part of ourselves that we can’t identify, but we know like the back of our hand. That is the mystery, the paradox.

Through the #WhyDoIWrite Series, I am growing in my understanding of how writing resets us. And how women in particular write as an action in the world. Not a reaction, not a reflection as much as an action like walking, blinking, moving. Less an activity, more an action. I am reading Virginia Woolf’s diary (at least the parts her a-hole DH Leonard would allow published) and she gets to this as well. It is a verb for women. Writing is an “ing”. I have been thinking a lot about my maternal grandmother as well–who had the psychic skill of automatic writing. She could sit and channel others and it flowed through her pen–or jury rigged Smith Corona type writer! She too suffered from depression and mania, as did her mother who was bipolar and a Quaker minister, and I am told spoke in tongues. Their gifts were their channels to the automatic. The mysterious part of the brain that free flows higher consciousness. No matter WHAT is done to it. ECT, brain injury, stroke, death–it is still there. That part.  That part that automatically channels Spirit.

Thank you for being one who does just that. I too am overwhelmed by the growth of this community.  But I am not surprised. Women are wonders. And with a pen in our hand?  

We are free.

Dr. Walker Karraa

23 thoughts on “Writing Heals My Brain

    • Your wonderful comment made my day – they always do, Wendy! Many thanks! I’m sooooooo looking forward to your book about writing!!!

  1. Good job, Dyane. I like the irony that you interviewed KRJ before your diagnosis. Have you read her book “Touched with Fire” (about creativity and bipolar disorder)? It’s fascinating.

    • Thanks so much, Laura! I have heard about “Touched with Fire” for years, and I even checked a copy out of the library….but I never read it! One of these days I will! 😉

      I saw her speak at my hometown library. We even attended the same high school, but different classes, as she’s a tad older than I am. She’s a brilliant writer – one of the very best!

  2. Hi Supermommyoftwins, your comment makes me feel awesome!!!

    Let me state for the record that YOU inspire ME to no end! Any mother of twins (or more) should get a Congressional Medal, or even better, a free month at the best spa in the world!

    xoxoxoxoxoxo to you and your incredible family!

    • I love your sweet comments! Remember what I wrote the other day – you are beautiful, no matter what the mood! I’d kill for eyes like yours! (Kitt, if you’re reading this, I know I need to love my cow eyes and I’m working on it! 😉 I love the fact they allow me to read all these awesome blogs….)

    • Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my post. Writing has been a major way for me to grieve, especially concerning the death of my father. It acts as a safe, contained channel for catharsis, doesn’t it?

      Your comment brightened up my morning so much. Thanks again – I wish you a wonderful day!!!

  3. I write because I can write, even after I had electricity pulse through my brain over fifty times during electroconvulsive treatments (ECT).

    A shame Hemingway couldn’t say the same.

    • I didn’t know E.H. had ECT, let alone that ECT destroyed his writing ability.

      My Dad had ECT and while it didn’t damage his talent (he was a world-class professional violinist), it didn’t help lift his bipolar depression like it did for me. I will always be thankful that my creative spark wasn’t just intact post-treatments, but actually stronger than it ever was before. Who knows what truly happens with “Edison’s Medicine”? I was desperate, so I didn’t care.

      Thanks for reading, as always!!!

      • Hard to say whether it was the hemochromatosis, alcohol, depression or ECT that did in Hemingway’s writing, but he shot himself in despair over his lost talents just after his last series of shocks.

  4. Writing is so therapeutic for me. It is why I named my blog Write into the Light. I can relate to so many of the reason why you write. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thank you so much for this comment, WiL. I’ve always loved your blog title & image too! Writing has been tough for me lately, but even when it’s difficult, I’m still 100% glad I did it!

      My best to you always!

  5. I love this. Life doesn’t always let our writing hold high priority–your daughter’s pneumonia, for instance. Sometimes Life overwhelms so much we tend to forget why writing is on the to-do list.
    Now I remember. 🙂

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