Writing Your Way To Good Mental Health

20131015_081509 (2)I freely admit that I love pens and notebooks and journals. I don’t think I am a hoarder (really, I’m not) but I do love them and have more of both than I can count on my toes, fingers and the paws and claws of all the pets in my household. Why do I have so many? I have no good answer. If I find a pen that writes well, I buy it. If I am in a store that sells a notebook I really like (I am currently enamored of stone paper tablets) I will buy the shelf-ful. When I visit a bookstore I am drawn to the journals that grace the shelves.

I have been a journaler (yes, I believe I just made up that word as I did when I turned journal into a verb below) , a keeper of a diary if you will, for decades. There is something about sitting down and putting pen to paper to truly let your feelings flow. While I compose my blog posts I do so at the computer. Prior to my sitting down and writing a post though I have thought about it, “plotted it out,” penned some handwritten notes about it and the headline I will use. I just think better on paper for some projects.

I have to admit I hadn’t journaled for quite a while ┬ábut once I was diagnosed I knew that I needed a place where I could write my hopes and fears. Where I could swear and vent and scream at the Gods that afflicted me with cancer. I needed a place where I could make my plans “in case” I didn’t survive the surgery or cancer itself or the treatments I would undergo. My journal was a safe place for me. I didn’t feel ridiculous nor did I feel I had to apologize to anyone for anything about what I was feeling. They were my thoughts and my thoughts alone.

In my journal I could chart how I was dealing, or not, with the stages of grief. I kept track of treatments, what doctors and oncologists said to me, of questions I needed to ask of them. I prayed to God in my journal and I cursed God for what He’d “done” to me and then I thanked Him and the surgeons who brought me through it all. I vented about the amazing care I received in the ICU and about the nurse who dropped a pill on the floor then offered it to me… I mean, really? I’m in the ICU and you offer me a pill that you dropped on the floor… sigh.

In my journal I can go back and look at how far I’ve come. In my journal I note how I was able to still serve my clients even through doctor visits, oncologist appointments, radiation treatments, recovery from my mastectomy… from it all. In my journal I can see how awesomely brave I truly am. In my journal I can see how awesomely afraid I truly am.

My journal will help me remember dates that I am likely to forgot. Milestones I will likely not remember. Emotions I would like to forget. My journal and its blank, forgiving pages brought me out the other side.

What can your journal do for you?

Leave a Reply