Creative Writing vs Writing as Therapy

A Writer's Path

by Sara Kopeczky

I had a rough childhood and adolescence (but hey, who hadn’t?), and often times found consolation in making up stories. I would write short, gothic stories with monsters and witches that helped me cope with my everyday issues. Later on, when I became more serious about my writing, I realized that creative writing is so different from writing to soothe your soul, because you have a responsibility towards your readers (and towards yourself) to deliver something a bit more concise than fumbling notes about how your dad doesn’t love you and all the other kids are stupid. Here are some of the main differences between creative writing and therapeutic writing:

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What Happened When Frank Died: Family Reunion

FLASH-365

frank_drag_me

Frank died.

He walked. Well, floated. It wasn’t so much a tunnel as a black bed sheet with a hole punched in it, attempting to smother him. Then, he was through the hole.

There, gathered at the end of a cloud, his parents waited. Their arms were open.

“Oh thank god!” his Mother cried. She put her arms around him. Held him tight. His father stood back, smiling.

“My baby!” his mother began to cry. Frank looked around. There were more people there. Recognizable noses, eyes, chins, receding hairlines. His family.

He stepped back.

“We didn’t know if you’d make it here, because, well.” His mother’s voice trailed off as she placed both hands around his wrists.

“But,” she smiled, “it seems it’s not so big a deal. Come!”

She turned, but Frank didn’t move. He was looking around.

“Where is Sara?” he asked. His mother turned. It was the…

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of several types of sleep disorders. People who have sleep disorder sleep poorly at night because they stop breathing many times during the night.

It is associated with snoring during the night and ongoing fatigue, even when you have had a complete night’s sleep.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

• Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. The throat muscles relax during sleep, blocking the air passages.
• Central sleep apnea. This happens when the brain fails to send signals to the breathing muscles and you stop sleeping.
• Complex sleep apnea. This occurs when you have a combination of central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms of the two major types of sleep apnea often overlap so it can be hard to tell what kind of sleep apnea you have. The major signs and symptoms include the following:

• Episodes where you stop breathing during the night. Others around you can often notice the problem.
• Snoring loudly, especially in obstructive sleep apnea.
• Waking up with a headache.
• Waking up with a sore throat or a dry mouth.
• Having problems with insomnia.
• Irritability during the day.
• Problems maintaining attention during the day.
• Excessive sleepiness in the daytime.

Causes Of Sleep Apnea

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you are usually overweight and have excessive tissue in the back of your throat that relaxes during sleep, blocking off your airway causing you to stop breathing. The oxygen level in your blood goes down and you gasp, waking up a little and catching your breath. You usually don’t remember waking up.

This pattern can happen all night long, up to 30 times per hour or more. You don’t get enough sleep and you become tired during the day. Because you don’t remember waking up at night, you believe you have slept well.

If you have central sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t sent enough signals to the muscles of breathing so you simply quit breathing during the night. This can lead to having problems getting to sleep or staying sleeping throughout the night.
Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can happen to anyone at any age, including children. The major risk factors for developing the disorder include the following:
• Being overweight. If you are overweight, you have four times greater risk of having sleep apnea when compared to people who are of normal weight. You can still, however, have sleep apnea and not be overweight.
• Having a thicker neck. If your neck is overly thick, your airways are likely to be narrower. The doctor will measure the thickness of your neck to see if you are at risk.
• Having a narrow airway. You may have been born with an airway that is naturally too narrow. You may also have enlarged adenoids or tonsils, contributing to a narrow airway.
• Your gender. Sleep apnea is twice as common in men, although women have an increased risk following menopause.
• Your age. Older people have a greater risk of having sleep apnea.
• You have a family history. If others in the family have the disorder, you are at a higher risk.
• Using alcohol or sedatives. These things contribute to relaxation of the throat.
• Being a smoker. Smokers have a threefold risk of having sleep apnea.
• Having nasal congestion. If your nose is constantly plugged, you breathe through your mouth and this leads to having a blocked airway.
Treatment Of Sleep Apnea
If you have mild sleep apnea, you may be able to quit smoking, take allergy medication or lose weight in order to improve your symptoms.
CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is the main treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. It is a device that is placed over your nose during sleep that delivers air to the air passages, keeping them open all the time. That way the muscles don’t relax and you get air throughout the night.
In some cases, the CPAP does not work and you need surgery. Surgery involves removing some of the excess tissue in the back of the mouth and on the soft palate. The uvula may also be removed as part of surgery to correct sleep apnea.
You stop snoring and you can sleep better throughout the night. Other types of surgery for sleep apnea include repositioning the jaw or putting in plastic rods in the soft palate. In rare cases, a tracheostomy needs to be performed, which involves putting a hole in the front of the neck for air to pass through.

Is Self-Care Eluding You?

Do you take good care of yourself? Of course you do, or at least you think you do. However, you may not realize that the level of care you give yourself is far sub-optimal, in many cases even being regarded as neglect. Yes, circumstances may force you to spend less time on yourself than you would like, and there are usually dozens of reason why.

However, before you can make a conscious effort to improve the level of care you give to yourself, you need to realize the areas you are deficient in. Self-care may be eluding you if you find yourself doing any of the following things.

You Are Selfless

If you find yourself putting the needs of every single person ahead of your own, you are exhibiting a classic sign of self-neglect. By prioritizing the needs of everybody except your own, you find yourself being burnt out or resenting doing things altogether.

Though nobody likes a selfish hog, let’s be realistic- you have to put yourself first sometimes. You may end up unable to do anything for anyone if you continue at this rate, not to mention resenting all the people you give up things for. A totally unhealthy cocktail.

Your Appearance Is Subpar

If you feel guilty for fancying up yourself, again, self-care may be eluding you. You have the right to spend time on yourself, if that means indulging in a bubble bath for an hour, or moisturizing and doing weekly pedicures, it is a necessary part of your overall care.

Another typical symptom of this is the chronic habit of dressing in “wash and wears,” which makes your appearance as cheaply dressed and not classy. Take some time every weekend to arrange your outfits for the coming week. This involves picking out accessories, shoes and steam ironing your clothes if needed. You are special- dress for the part.

You Don’t Have Friends

Not having a small circle of closely knit friends is another obvious symptom of poor self-care. Good friends are there not only through the good times, but also the bad and can be an invaluable part of your well-being. Whether this is your choice (or excuse) or something forced upon you by family, it is not healthy and ultimately affects your wellbeing.

You Feel Unfulfilled

You may be grown, have a home and money in the bank, but still have the sinking feeling that you have achieved nothing or not enough in life. This could be the result of personal un-fulfillment, because perhaps you never got the chance to complete your college education, to pursue a passion or you maybe you simply do not find your career to be rewarding.

Well guess what- there is no better time than now to get up and go after whatever it is that would fulfill you. What needs to be kept in mind is the fact that no other person can achieve this for you, so go get it.

You Don’t Exercise

This is one of the more serious symptoms of poor self-care, as it directly affects your well-being on an emotional and physical level. Lack of exercise boosts the likelihood of negative health effects developing, reduces quality of life, and harms your appearance.

Exercise performed just 3 times weekly can help you maintain a healthy bodyweight and body composition, and is one of the best things you can give yourself.

You Feel Life Is A Chore

The final symptom, that sums up the disdain you have for yourself is your lack of joy. Living brings you no real pleasure; you’re just going through the motions of life, without truly finding joy in the day-to-day moments.

You don’t stop to take in the views on your way to work, you don’t experience joy from little things your kids or grandkids may do, and only look forward to going to bed. Feeling as if life has no real purpose for you can be not only sad, but kick starts a cycle of negativity and can spiral into depression.

Conclusion

Though self-care should be second nature, many of us have de-trained these instinctual behaviors and replaced them with “politically correct” habits and a robotic pursuit of daily living.

You need to be selfish sometimes and to think about yourself, so you can meet your needs and desires, it can only serve to make you happier and more content.