Why I’ve Felt Unable To Write

white paper on brown wooden table
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Well, hello Mental Magazine readers, it’s been a while. I’m not sure if you’ll remember me – it’s been a long time since my head has been in the right space to write. For that reason, I think it’s best I introduce myself once more.


Who am I?

My name is Emily and I am the founder of Emily’s Eyes Explore, my online ‘diary’ depicting the reality of backpacking the world with mental health issues. I started writing in September 2018 when I decided to go travelling the world by myself. Having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression, following a breakup, the hospitalisation of several close family members and the loss of one particularly special person. 

Until the Covid-19 pandemic, I lived in Spain learning Spanish, travelled South America, India, south east Asia, Indonesia and lived briefly in Australia before I was forced to come home when the world turned upside down. My online diary was born of a desire to help myself, and help others.

I needed an outlet to explore my emotions, in a calm, non-judgemental way, having walked out on my previous therapist in a fit of rage. Writing has been my safe space, during a time where despite major highs, I have also experienced relative lows.

I am grateful to have used my travels to explore new places. Challenge myself to be alone in new environments, meet people from around the world and hear stories, which have in turn helped me feel less isolated.

My online diary was a place of honesty where I could write freely. I covered everything I was experiencing at the time: the enjoyment of meeting cool people, yet sometimes still feeling alone inside, gaining the confidence to take long public transport trips by myself, yet spending the best of the ten hour journey being convinced I would be kidnapped.

Or being in a dreamworld thinking I would have some cool travel relationship and realising I wasn’t really worth much at all in the end. Now, after a pandemic and amidst life changes, I’ve felt too nervous and uncomfortable to put pen to paper. I have felt, by all intents and purposes, useless. 

Overwhelmed by writing

I have, especially over the last few months, noticed myself feeling literally suffocated by the idea of writing. With the explosion of new bloggers, writers and content creators, I have felt trapped in a mind bog, unable to come up with ideas I feel haven’t been accessed before. Amidst the ‘top 5 things to do when….’ or ‘the top 19 places to visit in’ posts I’ve seen time and time before, I have felt unable to contribute.

If it’s been done before, then what is the point? If a mental health writer has written some cool tips on managing a depressive episode, then I’m not going down the same route, especially when I feel like my mental health has had its highs and lows with writing.

Similarly, if a travel blogger has written about a cool place to visit and the top coffee shops to sip espressos in said city, then I don’t want to be copying that either. I have always written opinion or advice pieces at the time when I felt like I was giving ACTUAL good advice, and not just click worthy bait – which I feel like is what I would be doing, if I had given the top tips a go.

In the past, when I’ve written advice articles, they’ve been from the bottom of my heart because I’ve learnt what would help me and in turn wanted to impart that ‘wisdom’ – for sake of a better word – upon them. Now, I feel like I’d be lying to both them and myself, if I wrote an article like that simply for the sake of creating new content. If you ever do see a tips article, know that it has been written because I’ve meant every word of it, and not for the clicks.

So, what now? Well, quite honestly I’m not sure. I think the first step in me breaking this is by acceptance of where I’m at, and I think I’ve done a good job of analysing it above. The next step, I think, is to work out when I can dedicate an hour per day to my website, whether that’s adjusting the layout, brainstorming new article ideas or writing pieces.

Making a positive change

The reason why writing my blog worked so well for me in the past is because I had no pressure to do anything with it. Thoughts came naturally to me, whether I was sitting in a coffee shop alone, people watching, or speaking to others about their lives. I thought to myself, that’s something the world should know, and set about writing it on long trips on night buses or when I had set aside some ‘me’ time. It was not a chore, it was a hobby and I think that’s what I’ve missed. My hobby.

Making positive change. All hobbies at this stage of my life have felt like a chore – exercise, learning a new language and writing. But they shouldn’t, because prior to this period in my life, they were what kept me going. And that’s what needs to change.

I’m going to attempt to create a new narrative for myself. One which doesn’t involve judgement, in all senses of the word. I’m going to apply that, not to just this part of my life, but to all sectors. I’m going to try and find that joy I had when I first started these hobbies and explore that passion once more. But, most importantly, if I do start overthinking them, I’m going to give myself a healthy space to feel that – rather than to berate myself for feeling that in the first place.

Have you ever felt stuck? What have you done to help yourself?

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