“The pen is mightier than the sword,” I’m sure you’ve been exposed to these words at some point, but have you ever given the quote any real thought as to what means? How could a pen possibly be mightier than a sword? I’d love to picture a knight in shining armor rejecting his weaponry in favor of a cut feather quill. The sword is far mightier than the pen in one specific task: taking life in battle. That is the epitome of a sword’s existence as it has few other practical purposes. How silly it seems to compare a pen and a sword at first, well, it did for me too until I realized that one of them can only take life, whereas a pen… Do you think words can be powerful enough to give a life? They can and they have, and more than once, but I can only attest to the story of one life being saved, and that is of my own.
I didn’t realize it back when I was eighteen years old (a decade ago) that my written words could not only be used as an outlet for a darker side of my mentality, but also that I was free to write whatever I wanted without recourse; it’s a powerful freedom we have to be able to speak freely. Back then, I didn’t comprehend the power of words, I hated reading and writing, I received a D in high school English, and I certainly didn’t think that my words would ever carry any weight. I had only used language at a lazy a rudimentary level, filling in many of the sentences with four letter words that had no place or necessity.
Your writing doesn’t have to communicate a single thing to anyone if you don’t want it to. It can be all yours and you can write whatever you like and hide it on a thumb drive or handwrite a journal you keep hidden from the world. Within those documents or pages, you can construct a table of contents and index for your brain for the various topics that go through your head, or a better way to think of it, is to let those pages be an extension of your mental canvas.
I’ve never written a journal entry in my life, I’ll admit, but I did publish an Amazon best-selling book on my life story in the form of a motivational memoir titled Mental Violation: One Man’s Journey from Rock Bottom to Ivy League. I wrote it all in hindsight in the first person, struggling at times to recall specific details—you can bet that I wish I had journal entries to reference during my four and a half years of creating it. Through my writing I relived each and every one of my most painful experiences over again, but in order to do so accurately, it required me to analyze the events in a way that made me feel like an aspiring reporter, trying to be the first to gather all the facts from different perspectives to form a truthful story. What once started off as a suicidal departure gift to the world for my mistakes, transformed me into everything I am today. There were no doctors who could help me at the time, I was too hard-headed to admit to them any topic of discomfort. Suicide… Yes, I now openly address such topics, even though just seeing that word may have brought on some feeling inside you. I told stories in vivid detail of the mental trauma I endured when I had to be a grown-up at age eleven, and stories of my delinquent behavior, barely graduating high-school, becoming addicted to drugs and steroids, and working in the adult entertainment industry…
I believe you can reasonably deduce from the title without further explanation that the person typing these words to you today—and perfectly comfortable doing so—Is a very different person than who I once was. Until now, I never spoke much publicly about my writing, the “when?” or the “why?” of it. I started writing back in 2013 when I was in the military, when my depression was at its peak. I concluded that suicide was the only viable option to escape the negative feedback loop that consumed me for years on end. But I wanted to leave something meaningful behind, something that could attempt to make right for my mistakes, maybe something that would go on to save others or prevent a teen from making a fatal decision unintentionally. I don’t remember exactly what my broken mind really hoped to accomplish other than to maybe soften the blow to my mother, I thought maybe I could explain it enough for her to understand. None of that is the point. At the time, I needed something to live for, and writing my story became a purpose for my existence. I couldn’t kill myself if the book wasn’t finished.
That suicide note transformed me, and as I transformed, so did the note. It transformed into a genuine motivational memoir that doesn’t end in suicide, but instead, to living a life and accomplishing things I never could have dreamed of. Not only did my therapeutic “journaling” prove to change my entire life, but my work is now out there making a difference in others’ lives, giving them strength to address topics they couldn’t previously, and encouraging them to get the help they need. I encourage you to pick up a pen or start typing out the things you struggle with, you might be blown away by how much you’ll learn about the person you thought you knew the most.
Philip Swensen is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor, Ivy League Business student, Author of the motivational memoir Mental Violation, and he’s an aspiring Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. Having spent more than a decade straight dwelling on the thought of suicide as his only way out, and after all that time of seeing nothing but a loser looking back at him in the mirror, he takes it upon himself to speak openly with an honest transparency, to share his personal experience in dealing with Mental Violations—a term he created to address the preconceived notions that people believe about themselves, which take on the role of becoming their own worst enemy, and standing in the way of their dreams.