Does your journal/diary do you good?
Updated: Jan 22
Over the last few weeks, as my medication levels have settled, I have yet again been reminded of just how useful a diary can be.
I know people journal or write in diaries about how they feel but the kind of diary I am talking about is a Joy or Gratitude Diary.
For years I wrote in journals about how I felt and all the misery in my life. It was believed that this was a constructive way of dealing with low mood or depression. I must have been writing for 8 years before I realised that not only was I not feeling any better but I became aware of patterns. I would think I had dealt with a particular problem only for it to arise in a another relationship or situation. Needles to say, misery followed.
At one time I had beautiful leather journals bought for me and I wanted to write all my poetry in them but as I wrote them out I noticed how depressing a lot of them were.
There was very little talk of hope and healing. Happiness was seen as something only other people had and even then it could be taken away in the blink of an eye.
Another negative point of these old diaries were the way they acted as written reminders of what I had been through; 2 failed marriages, relationship difficulties and the anxiety and depression within them. Why would I want reminders of this?
Once the epiphany of being responsible for my own healing kicked in, these diaries were burned. All the words of fear, negativity and failure gone up in smoke. I didn't need help to remember these desperate times, they were etched in my memory and it was time to let them go.
Over the last 6 years this has been a huge part of my anxiety recovery. Learning to see situations as lessons, showing me what I need to let go of.
You can't enjoy the present and feel optimistic about the future if you are always looking behind you.
Blame is of no benefit either.
I wonder how many of you will stop reading after that sentence?
Ooooh I know I could list plenty of people that I could blame for my unhappiness - my birth mother who gave me away, my birth father for not wanting to know me, the first boyfriend who ditched me, my body for not being stunning, my face for not being pretty enough, my brain for not making me uber employable and the list could go on.
Blame benefits no one really; unless you're a lawyer lol
Just days before Christmas, as I dealt with the withdrawal symptoms I was experiencing, I was asked to leave my job.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I am not going to go into details as that would be disrespectful but I will say I was hurt. Panic and tears were quick to grab me and the fear of being unemployable or to be left with no income was overwhelming. But here's the amazing thing, even though the initial feelings were horrid my recovery was quick. I was left physically shattered but that was as much down to the medication withdrawal as anything else. I felt calm and reassured. I had gone into myself and found that safe place of love and comfort.
When I went to bed that night and picked up my Joy(smile/gratitude) diary I felt I had something to write in it. In fact I filled the section for that day in no time. I listed all the blessings that were present in my life. Some were profound and some were a bit odd. I was able to turn so many situations around and see the good in them. Heck I even wrote about my wonderful body and how it does its best for me. N.B this is not something I would normally say as I am uncomfortable with the extra weight being in my 40s has brought.
As I went to sleep I felt reassured that I would be OK. I believed that the withdrawal would balance out as I increased the dose for a few months and that I would get another job. Job opportunities in such a remote place are few and far between but with the internet there are endless possibilities and my new job was out there.
I rate my mood out of 10 every night and that night it was an impressive 7 out of 10. Most nights it's around the 9 mark so this was a good sign.
Finding something good in everyday helps to reset a negative mindset. Some people accuse me of being unrealistic and I understand that but I also know the effects of not allowing yourself to see the good stuff in your life. If being realistic means being hugely unhappy, depressed or anxious then I would rather be unrealistic and happy. Choosing not to be a victim but to learn from things as they show up helps the 'little grey cells' rewire and create a default setting of joy rather than depression.
I like my diaries (pictured) to be colourful and bright as I love the way different colours make me feel. I suppose I want the outside to reflect the inside and all the wonderful thing i write in them.
So is your diary a place of doom or your journal a place of joy?
It's your choice.