Sofia Fortino’s “Catharsis” gives relief to those searching for release

Photo by Luke Sarazin

Catharsis: a noun used to describe the process of release thereby providing relief from repressed or strong emotions.

Catharsis is also the name of the progressive poetry book regarding experiences of mental health which Sofia Fortino, fourth-year psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University, is currently writing.

For Fortino, the idea to write the book stemmed from her personal experiences with mental health.

“The idea all started when I had my first panic attack which was really scary for me because it happened out of nowhere and I started feeling all these weird emotions that were really scary and confusing,” she said.

After realizing that the feelings she had experienced were common reactions to stress and trauma, Fortino began to feel a sense of relief.

“After reading that it happened to other people, I started to feel much better and that’s when I started to open up and tell my family about it and speak about it more to friends.”

The sense of relief that Fortino felt after being able to open up reminded her of the term catharsis.

Fortino felt that being able to share experiences of mental health with others through the form of poetry would allow those who read it to feel a similar feeling of catharsis and potentially help them throughout their own experiences with mental health.

“I just experienced catharsis in writing about what I’m going through and I want other people to experience that, too,” Fortino said.

In order to share a wide variety of experiences, Fortino created a website that allows individuals to send her submissions which entail their experiences or struggles with mental health. 

“They’re all different mental health issues ranging from anxiety and depression all the way to personality disorders and eating disorders,” she said.

“I hope that they experience a cathartic release too, by getting everything out and talking about something that they previously haven’t spoken to anyone about.”

After that, Fortino will take the story or experience and turn it into progressive poetry. Each poem is anonymous, descriptive and honest. 

“Some of them have happy endings, they show the person getting help and working through their problems. But there are people who have sent me stuff who are still struggling every day,” Fortino said.

“I’m just telling them honestly how they are because I think that’s what will be the most helpful thing to people.”

When Fortino is finished writing, she plans to self-publish the poetry book and distribute them amongst high schools, mental health clinics, rehab centres and more.

All the proceeds from the sales of Fortino’s book will be donated to the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

So far, Fortino has written 25 poems that provide insight to readers about unique mental health experiences. She plans to accept submissions until December and intends on writing poems as she receives submissions. 

“They’re all very different from one another, so I hope that a lot of different people can relate to them,” Fortino said.

“I encourage readers to get a cathartic release and to search for their own catharsis and talk about something that a lot of people are afraid to talk about because they’re afraid of being judged.”

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