Writing as a “Righting” Journey
THROUGH WRITING WE CAN:
Ø Explore the ways illness effects our lives
Ø Find courage to go deeper, discovering new meaning or affirming values we already hold
Ø Have an opportunity to share our lives with others and find community
Ø Provide parents structure for giving voice to their experiences of having a child living with a chronic illness, e.g. changes in emotional, physical and social life
Ø Provide immediate and on-going options for writing on one’s own and in a group
Ø Provide books, readings, (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) that speak to a variety of issues surrounding illness, healing and caretaking
“One of the more common challenges parents face when managing the care of their chronically ill children is that they simply may not have the ability to cope. Generally, the research shows that when moms are depressed, adherence [to the child’s medical needs..] will go down…”
Research also shows that emotions are centered and experienced by the part of the brain known as the amygdala. This is part of the early brain, the limbic system. Trauma and highly charged emotions can keep us centered in that area of the brain and not allow us to use our higher centers of thinking, the frontal cortex. In order to assess and move on from being stuck in feeling, to thinking about our feelings and then move into action or decision-making, we need to connect feelings to thinking, the amygdala needs connection to the frontal cortex. Judy Willis, a neuroscientist and writing teacher has shown that writing can do just that.
From both personal experience and observation, I have seen that writing can ameliorate feelings of depression, thereby increasing a parent’s ability to, cope with daily life and care for, their child. Writing in a group can also allow one to realize they are not alone and gain support for their struggles.
One participant of the first WARJ group had this to say when asked what she got out of it at the end of our 6 month sessions:
“…feeling understood and not alone…[it was]…much better than a support group for me as instead of commiserating we were putting our energy and feelings into art that heals and allows for release as well as a powerful way to share with others.”
WHO & WHEN:
Ø This group will be open to parents of children with a chronic illness. Any family dealing with Rheumatic diseases (JM, JRA), Diabetes, other Endocrine diseases, Gastroenterological diseases, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia are welcome to join.
Ø We will meet 5-6 times over a 5 month period.
Ø Each session will last 1.5 hours in Seattle, Washington
The workshop is led by Suzanne Edison, MA. She is a psychotherapist, poet and mother of a child with Juvenile Myositis. She is also the Family Support Director for the Cure JM Foundation. She has led workshops and given presentations on the Effects of Chronic Illness on Families and Coping with Chronic Illness to parents and medical professionals. She also was awarded grants to write and publish a chapbook of poems based on her journey with her child. A recent poem, Bloodwork, was awarded an honorable mention in the Charles Prize for Poetry contest. For more information please see her website, www.seedison.com.