Writing & Mental Health

Nelly Charlemagne


I always liked Lauryn Hill – and then she retired from music. I still listened to her music. Physically disappearing from the music scene didn’t make her body of work any less valuable. It didn’t stop artists from sampling her work in 2018, and it hasn’t stopped her from touring on the back of the forever beloved ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’.

I’m not sure if I always like writing, but I decided to ‘retire’ from that too. At some unknown point, between 2012 and 2013, I began to write. Poetry that is. It came quite naturally as well. It was an outpouring of unbridled and raw emotion. It was unrefined, unedited and hidden. I hardly ever went back to them, and it was even rarer that I would show anyone. It was in ‘in the moment’ activity, that stayed just there – in that moment.

Writing became a safe means of venting. Pen and paper could not judge or question you. The only person that might have questioned you was yourself, looking back after the moment. Balling up and throwing them away was a symbolic way of throwing away whatever you felt. Writing often feels like therapy. Years later, a certified psychologist would confirm that, and would recommend it as a means of coping and healing.

In the Caribbean, mental health is often overlooked and passed off as demonic spirits, and a cause for prayer. You may be able to pray away pain if there is some special tenacity when it comes to those prayers, but chemical imbalances are just a little more difficult. So when you’re in the moment, and there’s no other choice, you might as well write.



  1. Writing doesn’t mean just poetry. As long as pen meets paper and forms words, then your writing is worthy. Poetry, monologues, rants, letters and fiction all count. By the way, fiction is an amazing way of cleverly inputting your issues without being extremely personal. If it helps, you may as well write an entire book.
  2. Expressive writing is amazing for supplementing coping methods. It is a free flow of emotion onto paper. It is uncensored, uninhibited and feelings ‘pour out like water from a tap’
  3. You never have to show anyway. You never have to tell anyone. You can throw the paper away. You can burn it. You could keep it under your bed.
  4. If expressing feelings by speaking is difficult, then present what you have written – which is (most times) how you truly feel.
  5. Your mind will almost always feel free after you write. It does a great job at clearing up space in your mind. It creates the opportunity for good thoughts to be substituted in.

i shall not never

Write for lovers or

Dream makers


And moon shine romance


Unless they are me



– Call me No Poet or Nothing Like That – Mutabaruka


Leave a Comment