Writing as therapy: Teen pens her own struggles in hopes of helping others

By Alley Morris
Times-News correspondent

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Teen writer Lizz Matthews has penned books about her own struggles. [Michael DeCristofaro

   Lizz Matthews began writing as a way to cope with the trials of adolescence.
As she wrote, she realized how therapeutic writing could be and decided she wanted to share her struggles in hopes that it may help someone else going through similar experiences.
Matthews, a senior at The Hawbridge School, started writing books during her freshman year.
“Writing was never really an interest of mine until I started struggling from severe mental health issues in middle school. I hid them for a very long time, and my way of getting them out there was by writing. That’s how I began writing my books,” she said.
Her first book, “Boiling Water and Bleeding,” features 100 poems about mental illness. While writing “Boiling Water and Bleeding,” she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Matthews then began working on the sequel, “Nostalgia and Night Terrors.” This book focuses on her struggle with PTSD.
“My favorite part about writing the books was that I could be completely honest and that maybe, out of my honesty, it could help others that have the same struggles as me, or even people that don’t know anything about what I am going through,” she said. “Talking about mental illness — there’s a big stigma around it. Since I wanted to keep it completely honest, I didn’t edit any of my poems other than using spellcheck. I never altered any of them, because I wanted them to be very raw and really capture what I went through.”
Matthews realizes that some readers may not be comfortable with reading about mental health issues and has experienced some negativity from people who knew she was being published.
“I have faced issues with people claiming that I was publishing the books for attention, which never was my intention. I had a lot of trouble being honest, since I had hidden so much for a very long time, but I knew that if I wasn’t honest it wouldn’t help me,” she said. “’Boiling Water and Bleeding’ took about a year or less, then about another year of editing and just figuring out my publishing options. ‘Nostalgia and Night Terrors’ took a few months to a year because I would find myself writing something new every day, so the ideas would come pretty quickly.”
“Most of my life is spent writing. I think a lot and whenever I think I tend to write things down,” she said.
Matthews also participates in a lot of community theater productions locally and is the vice president of The Queer Fish Center, the first LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Queer) youth center in Alamance County.
“I’ve received many good compliments about my books but the ones that mean the most are people telling me that my poetry has helped them to overcome their issues, or get to know themselves better. I really love hearing from other people who have suffered and have found a way to overcome it. Knowing that I can be a part of that process is very encouraging,” she said.
Matthews said that her third book will be released in 2019 or 2020.
Lizz Matthews’ “Boiling Water and Bleeding” is $10 at both amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com; “Nostalgia and Night Terrors” is $17 at amazon.com.

Alley Morris is a home-schooled eighth-grader and a Teens & 20s writer.

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