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Writing is Therapeutic

Dean Dauphinais
| February 4, 2015

Before I was a lead advocate for Heroes in recovery. Before I started blogging about my son’s addiction and recovery. And before I became passionate about helping to break the stigma associated with addiction and mental illness. Before all of those things, I was just a father who had a son who abused drugs.

When I first began my journey, I wasn’t aware that self-care was such a key component for any parent dealing with a child’s addiction. I was a newbie, and I was just trying to survive. But I needed to get things off of my chest, too. I resisted traditional therapy and support groups for a while (we all make mistakes!), but I found a therapeutic outlet in writing.

I started keeping a journal in January of 2007. I had so many thoughts bouncing around inside my head that I had vent to someone. And, for a long time, that someone was myself. I journaled about my son’s addiction and depression, his behavior, my feelings, and the effects all of those things were having on my family. These were stream-of-consciousness thoughts, typed into a Microsoft Word document that wound up growing to hundreds of pages. The thoughts were very personal, too. In fact, to this day no one besides me has read the journal, except for the few small excerpts that I’ve posted on my blog.

From time to time, I’ll open up that massive Word document and peruse it a bit. As I’ve written here before, I don’t look back on my experiences with my son to remember how bad things were; I look back to see how far we’ve come. Doing so helps me appreciate where things are today, and allows me to live with gratitude and thanks. I don’t dwell on the past, but I certainly do acknowledge its existence. After all, what I’ve lived through has helped shape me into the person I am today. And—although I didn’t realize it at the time—that journal was my first act of self-care, because it made me feel better.

Two years later, that journal eventually gave birth to a blog I’ve been sharing with the public for more than six years, and that blog has led to having my writings published by other media outlets. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to express myself through the written word. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that people actually want to read stuff I’ve written. And when someone tells me that something I’ve written has made a difference in their life? That’s icing on the cake.

Every once in a while, someone will tell me that I should write a book about my experiences. I have to admit, it’s crossed my mind on occasion. But it seems like such a daunting task. Besides, there are already a slew of terrific books written by parents who have gone through a child’s addiction. But, who knows? Maybe someday.

One of the first entries in my journal, from January of 2007, includes this passage:

“I feel really down. It’s because [my son] is so down. It pains me so to see him that way, when I know he’s such a great kid deep down inside, behind all that angst and self-pity. Damn, I love that kid. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have him be happy. Is that too much to ask?”

I never did find a magic wand. But I did find a magic “pen” that has allowed me to share my stories with others, and that exercise has become such a positive part of my life. If you like to write, even a little bit, I urge you to do so. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re good enough, or about making mistakes, or about what other people might think. (Remember, I didn’t write for anyone but myself for almost two years.) Just pick up a pen or sit down at a computer…and write. It’s great therapy.

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.” –Anne Lamott

If you are in recovery, or if you have a loved one who is in recovery, please consider sharing your story on the Heroes in Recovery website. By sharing, you can offer hope to others while doing your part to help BREAK THE STIGMA.

You can share your story in one of two ways:

1.) Go to the Heroes in Recovery page, share your story directly, and let them know Dean sent you.

2.) Contact me on Facebook (Dean Dauphinais) and I can help you through the process. Or we can talk on the phone and I can help you write your story.

Also, please feel free to share this blog or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have.



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