The Joys of Journaling

I apologize for posting on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week. Life happens.

***

Several years ago I found myself sitting in a bright office with a therapist whose name I cannot remember. What I do remember was the sense of desolation and sadness I’d felt before entering that office. I won’t go into the details but in sum, I felt as though I’d lost control of my mental stability and was suffering regular breakdowns. So for a few months I’d take the bus down to Fernwood and sit on a tawny sofa, staring at a potted zebra cactus and nervously sipping water while my therapist led a conversation prompted by personal and painful questions. We established early on that while I felt out of control, I was still incredibly attuned to my emotions so we looked for outlets that might help me to linearize or organize these emotions. She advised journaling.

What helped me, in a time where I felt paralyzed by anxiety on a weekly basis, was journaling. Journaling and routine. I’ve never been any good with routine but I know, now, that it’s important for me to maintain some kind of regular activity. In my second year of university, living in Victoria, I attended school full-time in addition to working approximately 30 hours a week. I was obsessed, completely consumed by a desire to succeed financially, intellectually and academically. In the midst of all this craziness I began to fail emotionally. Journaling gave me a reason to sit down and remember where my priorities were at.

Ultimately, the act of writing helped immensely, but just the other day I found myself feeling lost. I could see the shadow of a certain self-loathing creature lurking around the corner. No, I thought, I’m so tired of this. I’m tired of feeling stalked by a creature that drains my energies. So I turned to my journal and not only did I write, I re-read my previous entries and discovered in them a kind of wisdom. I was able to ground myself, remember how I arrived at this point in life and could look to my past self for advice. Patience, I’d written again and again. Love and patience.

I suppose I’ve avoided talking about the “anxiety” part of my tagline “on books, writing, tea and late night anxiety.” Everyone, I do believe, struggles with some form of anxiety and yet despite this universality it’s incredibly stigmatized and the number of people who allow themselves to feel “broken” as a result of this is dispiriting. So I like to be honest. I enjoy maintaining a presence online but I refuse to pretend that life’s a basket full of cherries. We all know it’s not. Therefore, I’m willing to share my experiences. I am not ashamed to say that I’ve been to therapy and that I plan on going again. Nor am I ashamed of my brain. Instead, I try to work with myself rather than against myself. Journaling is one way I’ve attempted to do so.

Lastly, my love of writing and my anxiety overlap in a myriad of ways. Writing is the only thing that can get me out of a funk, but it’s also thrown me into a few. Journaling, for instance, helps me to feel calm and rational. Meanwhile, the thought of failing as a writer is enough to leave me sleepless and panicked. So to avoid more restless nights, I plan to make journaling a part of daily life once again. There’s something special about giving yourself time to reflect no matter how busy or overwhelming life might seem. It’s also a wonderful way to tame memory, since we all know how unreliable memories can be.

If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences please leave a comment below. Happy Thursday everyone and thanks for reading!

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