Children’s mental health week: writing for therapy
It’s Children’s Mental Health Week this week so I thought I’d share something writing related…
As part of my therapy a few years ago, my counsellor asked me to write a metaphorical story about me, as a child, and my struggles. So this is a little story about anxiety as well as the upbeat parts of my personality that I wouldn’t give away – the excitable parts (my mum told me I was so excited about getting a bike for my birthday I was sick).
Would I swap my excitability if it would take away my panic? I’m not sure I would.
Anyway, below is the piece of writing I took with me to my therapy session back in 2017. It’s an interesting exercise to do…and it gives you self-compassion for the little girl you once were…
She opened her eyes. They were still sticky from sleep and she struggled to make out the shapes of her teddy bears sitting in a neat row at the bottom of her bed. The dust was floating calmly in the sunshine as it shone through the gap in the floral curtains. The mass of teddy-like shapes gradually sharpened up and she could make out her favourite bear.
It was morning.
But wait. What was that? Was that a dark shadow lurking behind her purple woollen bear?
She couldn’t be sure. It vanished in an instant. But the image hung heavy in the air, weighing down on her shoulders and causing her toes to curl tightly into an awkward stretch.
She needed to be sure. She had to find it. Where had it gone? It was definitely there, wasn’t it?
One by one she lifted all of the teddy bears from their resting place at the foot of the bed. It was time they got up anyway. She placed her favourite bear on the laundry basket next to her bed. There was nothing there. It must have left already. But what was it?
A feeling of unease rippled over her. She clenched her jaw and leapt up out of bed, determined to find the shadowy thing lurking beneath her bed before it found her. She took a deep breath and peered cautiously between the gap of the cream berber carpet and the varnished pine slats. There were shadows everywhere, morphing into the darkness behind Buckaroo and Hungry Hippos. The darkness created shapes that appeared to move and dance in a menacing rhythm.
Wait! What’s that Knight Rider car doing in the middle of the carpet!? She was sure she hadn’t played with it in weeks. Had she? Had the shadowy thing moved it? Had it created a dark force that could change everything. Buckaroo and Hungry Hippos became ugly. The car took on a life of its own. Her life was in peril.
With her fingers trembling she reached out to pick up the car. It was her favourite car. She loved Knight Rider. But now it was tainted. It had been at the mercy of the shadow. There was something terribly, terribly dreadful about it.
She opened the wardrobe with the wooden slatted doors and threw the car so that it hit the back of the wall, fell, and made an eerie sound with its wheels clanking and buzzing as it collapsed awkwardly into a heap of discarded toys. She closed the door. She walked away. But the pull of the shadows drew her back…
Peering through the slats she searched out the shadows. They seemed to be everywhere now. All around her. They felt threatening. But she couldn’t make out for certain exactly where or what they were. She couldn’t make out a definite outline. But she knew they were there. Taunting her, jeering at her. They felt deathly and heavy and she was sure she could hear them whisper. There was definite danger. It was imminent. She felt sick.
She took a deep breath and walked down the stairs. Her mum was in the kitchen. She was glad she was safe. The kitchen felt brighter and smelt of toast. Her mum had the round ends of the toast and her dad had the square ends. Lucy liked her toast to be light. But it wasn’t quite light enough today. She rejected half a slice pulling her nose into a sneer and pushing away her plate. It wasn’t quite the toast she loved.
She walked into the lounge and felt a little tap on her shoulder. She turned in shock. In horror. Had it followed her down the stairs? Her mum was behind her.
‘Did you see that?’ she gasped.
‘Yes I did.’ said her mum with a smile. ‘It was Mighty Mouse’.
Oh wow! Mighty Mouse. She KNEW he had to be real. He was her favourite ever mouse. She liked Danger Mouse, Mickey and Minnie were fun and she thought Jerry was a hoot. But Mighty Mouse was THE BEST MOUSE.
She couldn’t sit still. She felt another tap on her shoulder.
‘Mum, mum, Mighty Mouse just tapped me again’.
‘Yes he did’ said her mum.
Every time she wasn’t looking Mighty Mouse appeared behind her, teasing her. She imagined him giggling and winking at her mum. She loved that her mum could see him and knew she must be special or he wouldn’t have visited her house. He was in HER HOUSE! How could something this brilliant happen.
She wandered back up the stairs, full of hope at the thought of encountering a super hero of the mouse variety again.
The bedroom was light and the dust particles were dancing happily in the rays. There was anticipation in the air bobbing through the light and twirling around her in excitement.
But wait? What was that? Did she just see her teddy bear move? She was sure he was sitting up straight on the laundry bin when she went downstairs. She’d placed him there when she was looking for that shadow thing.
How had her bear moved?
She knew what it had to be. She was so excited she could burst. Her house was coming alive with teddy bears and super hero mice and all the wonderful types of things she watched Emily enjoy in Bag Puss. And it was happening to her. It was magical. It was amazing. This was the BEST DAY OF HER LIFE.
She left the room and hid in the bathroom. When she sloooowwly, quietly crept back in, she knew she was going to see her teddy bears dancing and picnicking and partying in her room.
Her heart sank. Her teddy hadn’t moved. There was no Bag Puss party. There was no Mighty Mouse. Reality hit. She wasn’t that special. She hadn’t been visited by real live teddy bear creatures after all. She had nothing to report to her friends at play group.
She collapsed on her bed. And looked up to the ceiling, deflated and sad.
Wait! What was that? Did a dark shadow just dart across the room?