June 24, 2017 by Samantha
Journaling & Mental Illness
Journaling can be an important and beneficial factor in mental illness. It can help improve your overall mental well-being because it can create a healthy outlet to express your emotions. A lot of people that struggle with any type of mental illness, or addiction, tend to stuff their emotions deep down inside of themselves, or they try to release them or cope with them, in unhealthy manners.
I’ve been there, and every now and then I still resort to unhealthy means to release my emotions, but journaling is what has been one of the best coping mechanisms that have ever been suggested to me. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people, but journaling is something that has worked for so many people that I have come into contact with, and I highly recommend it to people that struggle with getting their feelings and emotions out and suggest that it should be tried at least once. What could it hurt, right? It’s literally just putting a pen to a piece of paper, or even your hands to your keyboard.
When a person journals, they can let out their innermost thoughts that they wouldn’t dare share with another soul. You can be your true genuine self, and never feel judged by anyone because you are not writing for anyone else’s enjoyment. You are solely writing to be able to get out whatever it is that you are holding inside. Whatever you are writing doesn’t even have to make sense. It could be incomplete thoughts or just random words. It’s whatever you are feeling at that particular moment in time.
I have heard people say that they don’t want to journal because they are worried that someone else in their household may find their journal and read their private thoughts. I get that. When you write something that is meant for your eyes only, you want to keep it that way. There are a few different forms or means of journaling that can be done if you are worried about the traditional diary style due to lack of privacy.
Here are some options to try instead:
If you fear that prying eyes might see a traditional journal you can always sign up for an online account somewhere. This is one I have used in the past, and they even have an app you can download on your smartphone.PrivateDiary.net and with this one, it is username and password protected so no one but you can access it. You can even sync the app and the online site so you can create entries either way and never lose track of anything. It also allows you to upload pictures to your entries as well. If you decide you really don’t like the way this journal is set up, just type in “online diary” into a search engine and tons of results will pop up. Just keep searching until something catches your eye.
If your computer is password protected, and you never have to worry about anyone going through your files, you can always create your own journal using something like Google Docs, MS Word, etc… and just saving the files right to your computer. Maybe create a specific folder like, “My Journal” or “My Thoughts” and saving your entries in there.
Create & Trash:
If you are severely worried about someone seeing what your private thoughts are, then you can always physically write out all your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Then after you are done just rip up the paper and throw it away, burn it, shred it, or discard it however you see fit.
If you have a smartphone then you automatically have a journal or diary at your fingertips. If you have an Android device, all you have to do is go to the Google Play Store and search for “Diary Apps” and hundreds of them will come up. Just look for one you will like. Another option is just to create journal entries using your memo or notepad within your phone.
You could always create a folder and label it “My Journal” or something of the sorts, and create journal entries in your personal email account, send them to yourself and then save them in your designated saved folder.
There are obviously lots of creative ways to create and manage a journal without having to keep a physical copy in today’s day and age. Almost everything is digital now. As for myself, I still love to have a physical copy because I enjoy putting a pen to a piece of paper.
Every means of mental health and addictions treatment that I have ever come across, since 2001, has suggested that I journal, and I have been doing it ever since. I go through phases where I will journal rigorously every day for chunks of time, then I will go periods of time where I won’t journal at all, then I will journal in moderation. And what I have come to the realization of, is that during the periods of time when I am the most routinely active in my journaling, is when my emotions are the most manageable. I seem to have less frequent crying spells because I am not bottling up as much inside of me.
Now, what I mean by routinely active, is that I am not obsessively writing, but I am also not infrequently writing either. When I am not at either extreme is when I am at my best, which at times that gets hard to come by since I am bipolar, and what is bipolar other than polar opposites.
So, if you have never tried journaling as a way to get your emotions out, give it a try. Just one time. Learning a new coping skill mechanism is always a thing of great value because you never know when life may throw something new your way that your current coping skill may not be suitable for. What works for you one day, may not work for you the next. That’s the thing about mental illness, it’s not always predictable and neither is life.