Journaling is therapeutic. It helps me share what is in my mind, and even finding a solution behind specific thoughts and feelings. Journaling has become an essential strategy to help my mental health improve on some of my darkest days.
When a lot of people find out that I like to journal, they immediately assume that I use a diary. But that is incorrect. Putting words into paper is a tool that not many take advantage of, and honestly, I wasn’t a fan when I first started.
You see, my therapist advised that journaling could help. I took her advice.
I had a bad habit of keeping my emotions bottled up. I was afraid of making myself look weak and scaring the people I love away with my mental health baggage. So while I was building up the courage to talk about my emotions to others that weren’t my therapist, I was forced to write in my journal.
It wasn’t working at first. My need to make everything perfect affected my journaling. I thought I had to fill the pages with well-written prose, find time to journal every single day and write for hours. I would even make an outline of what I could write and how I would organize that information.
Obviously, that didn’t work.
My therapist made me realize that I was overthinking the whole journaling process. I was worried about my journal getting ugly from folding. I didn’t like scribbling on the pages, and I hated how my handwriting looked.
She told me that I was pressuring myself on something that should be simple and that I am not being honest, real, and vulnerable with myself. I was censoring my own writing, and I knew I had to stop.
And eventually, I did.
At first, I struggled to find words to write. Soon enough, I wrote whatever came to mind. I wrote about my emotions. I wrote about being depressed, having anxiety, and how I felt like I couldn’t control my feelings. Tears filled the pages as I wrote about feeling fat, not being good enough, and wanting to find my purpose in life. My journal started to be filled with words and scribbles. I uncensored my mind and opened up to my journal and myself.
I finally started to benefit from journaling. Going back to read what I wrote allowed me to gather my thoughts and understand myself better. I began to find common triggers within my depression episodes, anxiety attacks, and binge eating. It helped avoid those triggers, which has helped reduce my symptoms so far.
I also felt like all the weight from my emotions was lifted from my shoulders.
These days, I journal about everything that comes to mind. I write about happy memories, moments that made me laugh, and things that triggered me. Some pages are filled with scribbles and doodles, and other pages are filled with the top 3 moments of that specific day. I have made my journal into my safe haven, and in return, I have been able to reconnect with myself. And most importantly, while I still suffer from depression and anxiety on occasion, it has been much more controllable than before.