I’m thinking of having a segment talking about certain things which have had power in helping me cope over the past two years. This time I thought I would talk about keeping a journal. This has to be the biggest tool I have in coping recently.
How I started:
After I started having panic attacks and I felt too nervous about going to see my therapist that’s when journalling became really powerful for me. It was around September/October time and so I was using my many empty notebooks to plan for NaNoWriMo. As I was going through making a plan of action and world building I think someone I was subscribed to on Youtube had posted another flipthrough, I figured I had nothing to loose if I let off some steam and just put my thoughts and frustrations on the page.
In all honesty I felt like a real numpty at first. Writing about my day or how I still felt over past situations just didn’t feel natural for me, even as someone who has wanted to be a writer for 20years! I stuck to it none the less and probably felt a bit daft for 3 or 4 months but then something clicked and I couldn’t stop after that. It took me a year and a couple of days to finish my first journal and I’m onto my second now and after only 2 and a half months I am more than half way through already because I realised what worked and what didn’t in my first journal and worked with that.
How it’s helped me:
At a time when I was too scared to see my therapist, when I felt I couldn’t or shouldn’t open up to people in my everyday life and I felt enclosed in darkness I found a little light in writing. Sometimes it might been deep dark secrets and worries, other times it might be a simple list of things I need to buy. Either way getting the thoughts onto a page always makes me feel like it’s taken a little of the noise from my mind.
Jounalling has been especially powerful when writing about past experiences that feel I haven’t really stopped hurting me. Writing letters, memories and rants in my private book helps me feel like I have a place to go. A place where there is no judgement and no expectation for me to talk more or less than what I need. More importantly though I can read over whenever I feel ready and really see what I’m actually trying to say. I can hear in my words where my anger or sadness peaks and this has become a big tool in trying to change my attitude because looking back I can see what I really feel is more deep rooted than what I think I’m feeling.
From the age 7 I have always wanted to be a writer so creating worlds, plots, characters etc has always come somewhat naturally to me. Writing down how I feel though, that’s a minefield. Using my journal to be 100% honest with myself really challenges me to take responsibility for my actions and attitude. Depending on how you use your journal it can be the most powerful and useful tool in getting you back onto your path after a really dark period.
Pros & Cons:
I’m going to do a few posts in the future about my tips for keeping a journal, picking your first journal, the different ways of journaling etc but for now I will leave you with the pro’s and cons from my point of view.
Free Space Doodling!
I hate Only writing half way down a page and it feels weird to me starting a new page of writing straight after. Sometimes I do carry on with my next writing piece but a lot of the time I use the free space to practice my doodling! I like to draw little pictures next to the titles of my writing pieces so free space doodling lets me practice and keeps me sharp. It doesn’t matter if it’s not fantastic or if it’s a bit goofy it livens up the page and stops me getting bored 🙂
Kicking Butt? Put it in the book!
When I’m having a day where I feel like I’ve made some head way with my anxiety I like to write it in the book, just for me. I know if some others read it they’d think the things I’m celebrating are silly little things but for me they are a struggle and I deserve to pat myself on the back! These are also so good to look back on when I’m feeling low to remind myself not every day is bad, it’s a journey not a destination! Also I like to make the good day pages look pretty to really emphasise it!
Super-mini Bujo Spread!
I am subscribed to so many Bullet Journal folks on Youtube and I’ve always wanted to do this for myself. I live for organisation, stationary etc but whenever I have tried to do it I have failed because I don’t have a lot of meetings and I don’t go to school (I work full time) etc. Every week though I do like to write a weekly review and then do a one page bujo-esque spread for the goals and tasks I want to get through in the week ahead! It’s nice to make the page pretty and give myself a bit of purpose and something to work on!
- Bag space: Okay so the actual journals I use are A5 I believe so they don’t take up that much space but if you’re like me and like to write in different colours with different pens (ball point, gel, fountain) then you need a pencil case and that’s just more space used!
- Failed Ideas: I don’t usually mind if what I write sucks, if my drawings are a little crumby that doesn’t bug me too much either but when a spread idea fails it really annoys me. I’ve seen some people press flowers in their journal and so I tried it – EPIC FAIL! some people do some cute or powerful pages dedicated to a lyric or quote they like, again most my attempts were rubbish – think it just bugs me because it’s a total waste of page!
- The Questions: I don’t tend to tell many people that I journal but people at work know because they’ve seen me do it on lunch and most my family know. The more people that know the more it opens you up to questions though. my work colleagues have asked quite a few times if they’re in there, or if something goes wrong or I get stressed I’ve heard one woman at work say “oh watch out that will be in the journal.” it shouldn’t really bother me but it does. This is my safe place not something for you to mock, judge and question!
My DMs are open across the board, you can also email if you ever need a friend firstname.lastname@example.org